In welterweight action, DREAM Welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis (13-4, 0-1 Strikeforce) will make his second appearance on U.S. soil as he battles Chute Box-bred, PRIDE veteran Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos (17-13, 0-1 Strikeforce). Zaromskis was recently the recipient of a brutal beatdown at the hands of Nick Diaz at Strikeforce: Miami in which Diaz won the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title. Santos was also on the losing end in his Strikeforce debut as he dropped a split decision to Joey Villasenor at Strikeforce Challengers II back in June of last year.
It hasn't been all that disappointing for both fighters however. Zaromskis ran through a field of solid competition last year on his way to being crowned the DREAM Welterweight champion and Grand Prix winner. He crushed PRIDE veteran Hayato Sakurai and UFC veteran Jason High with head kicks to win the tournament in spectacular fashion, and he followed the Grand Prix win with a head kick victory over Ho Bae Myeon at DREAM.12
Santos has regularly been on the losing end of fights, but it can't be said that he's taken on weak competition. He's lost to Joey Villasenor, Siyar Bahadurzada, Gegard Mousasi, James Zikic, and Kazuhiro Nakamura in the last four years. Not exactly a sub-par list of opponents by any means. He'll enter this contest with a recent win over Daniel Zarate at an event in Curitiba, Brazil in December, so perhaps he can ride the confidence gained from that victory.
Zaromskis should be the better fighter in the striking department. While Santos can provide some punishment from his Muay Thai base, Zaromskis' strong kickboxing in combination with his southpaw stance can produce some real havoc for opponents. Santos isn't the quantity puncher that Nick Diaz is, but Santos does have some dazing power in his fists, at least on a limited basis.
I think what we will see in this fight is Santos trying to close the distance to stop Zaromskis from bombing him with kicks from range. Santos will probably want to try to work the clinch and possibly a takedown while Zaromskis will need to fight off the clinch and crush Santos with strikes. In theory, it should be a pretty entertaining clash of offensive styles.
While I think Santos' Brazilian jiu-jitsu credentials could spell disaster for Zaromskis, I think Zaromskis has the strength to keep Santos at bay in the clinch. His wrestling isn't phenomenal, but he's powerful enough to stuff takedowns and counter quickly with kicks and combinations.
I'm taking Zaromskis. I think he has the power to be very dangerous in the stand-up game, and I think he's good enough to maintain his feet and produce offensive for three rounds. If Santos can't take him down, Zaromskis should have this fight wrapped up.