Strikeforce Los Angeles Preview: Tim Kennedy, Trevor Prangley Clash in Middleweight Showdown

Kennedy_vs_prangley_mediumOne of the more interesting battles taking place at Strikeforce: Los Angeles will be a middleweight showdown between IFL and Strikeforce veteran Tim Kennedy (11-2, 2-0 Strikeforce) and South African-born UFC veteran Trevor Prangley (22-5-1, 3-1-1 Strikeforce). This will be Kennedy's third fight after returning to the sport following the call of duty to the 7th Special Forces group in the U.S. Army, and it'll be the third fight since beginning the process of training full-time as a MMA fighter.

Kennedy is currently riding a three-fight win streak as he submitted Zak Cummings at Strikeforce Challengers III in September, knocked out Nick Thompson at Strikeforce Challengers II last June, and knocked out Elias Rivera at the IFL World Grand Prix Finals back in December of 2007. His last two performances have been even more impressive due to to the obvious increase in skill he's attained due to being able to train full-time.

Prangley has remained highly-active in the last few years as he's fought in ten match-ups in the last three years. His most recent fight took place at Strikeforce Challengers VI against Karl Amoussou, but the bout ended in a technical draw due to an accidental eye poke. Prangley was on a five-fight win streak before the draw with wins over Emanuel Newton, Dennis Reed, Marcus Sursa, Isidiro Gonzalez, and Anthony Ruiz.

Stylistically, both fighters match up rather well. Prangley has NCAA D-I wrestling credentials while Kennedy has improved immensely in his skill in the wrestling department. Both men have submission ability on the ground, and both fighters can punch with power.

That type of fight probably has the makings of an all-out war, but I think Kennedy's improvements over the last year are what we should be focusing on. His striking has become far more crisp and accurate, and he's been a dominant force on the ground. Nick Thompson was overwhelmed by Kennedy, and he's a highly-experienced grappler and decent striker with length.

Prangley is a bit of a different animal. He's very tough to knockout, and his gas tank has always been something that opponents have had to worry about when taking him on in a ground fight. Oddly enough, Prangley looks rather tired after the first few minutes of fights, but his "drunken" stammering around the cage has always been a style that he's used in fights. Surprisingly, he's been able to fight rather effectively in that manner.

There are some concerns however. Prangley isn't exactly the most explosive puncher, but he has the skill to land on the button and end someone's night rather quickly. Kennedy seems to have gained some spring in his punching, and the strength he's gained is a real problem for opponents on the ground. Prangley should be able to neutralize that on the ground, but I worry that Prangley may be in for a rude awakening on the feet if Kennedy's progression as a knockout threat has continued.

I might pick Prangley if this were a five-rounder, but I think Kennedy will be more explosive in the stand-up game and batter Prangley while threatening with agile takedown attempts. Historically, Prangley is tough as nails and hard to finish, so I'll go with Tim Kennedy via decision in this contest.

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