The upcoming fight between Ronaldo "Jacaré" Souza and Tim Kennedy on Saturdays Strikeforce: Houston card will undoubtedly be a great one for the vacant Strikeforce Middleweight Championship. Both men in this contest are worthy of the title they're fighting for.
Regardless of whose hand is raised on the night of August 21st, one can almost be assured that the same person is going to being called out by either of the future champions.
Yes, you read that correctly. Mayhem, as in Jason "Mayhem" Miller.
Mayhem was the one who, in the eyes of many, put up the best fight against former champion Jake Shields. In a fight that many called a boring display of lay and pray techniques, Mayhem and Shields actually put on quite an entertaining grappling battle (which would have been made all better by the addition of elbows... but that's a different story :D).
Mayhem obviously wanted a rematch, and was suspended from competition for some time due to the post-fight brawl which took place following the main event of Strikeforce: Nashville. If those events hadn't occured, Mayhem would most likely be fighting for the title on the Houston card. Last time i heard, Scott Coker didnt have access to a DeLorean and a Flux Compacitor, so history can't be changed.
While some believe Mayhem is the current #1 contender, others believe that a tournament at 185 is the only fair way to decide who gets the next title shot. tOne can't help but to have the feeling that this tournament might be canceled again, much like it was before. If that's the case, then my predictions work out fine. If the tournament does happen, lets just say Mayhem pulls of the victories necesarry to gain a title shot. The two men entering this Saturdays title match both have some history with Mayhem that they probably want to clear up.
Jacarés history with Mayhem started at DREAM.4 during their 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix. The match was quite exciting, the little stand up exchanges which happened were exciting, but for the most part it was a great grappling battle which had Mayhem playing defense for a majority of the two rounds, Jacaré walked away with the unanimous decision victory. Jacaré moved on to the next round of the tournament, defeating his next opponent (Zelg "Benkei" Galešić) by armbar. In the tournament final, Jacaré lost to Gegard Mousasi via a vicious upkick. Despite losing, Jacaré would get the chance to fight for the DREAM Middleweight Championship once again. Mousasi had moved up in weight, vacating the title. DREAM decided that Mayhem vs. Jacaré II was the appropriate match.
3 weeks short of a year later at DREAM.9, Mayhem and Jacaré found themselves standing across the ring from one another once again. This fight wouldn't make it out of the first round however, ending controversially via a massive cut on Jacarés head caused by an illegal soccer kick by Miller. The fight was ruled a no contest, and a DREAM Middleweight Champion has yet to be crowned. Both sides have stated interest in a rematch. Over a year has passed since Jacaré vs Mayhem II, and if all goes well for Jacaré, Strikeforce can offer to have the rubber match that will finally establish who's the "better man". The controversial ending to their last fight has created some bad blood between them, and the sparks would fly once the cage door closed.
Tim Kennedy doesn't have the bad blood with Mayhem that Jacaré has, but they do have an extended history with one another. Early on in their MMA careers, way back in 2003 (i was 14 people... just doing this to make you older guys feel..... old :P) Miller lost to Kennedy via unanimous decision. Fast forward four years and these two men would meet once again. Going into this fight, both men had nothing but good things to say about eachother and knew that it would be an all out brawl. And it was! The result was different however, with Mayhem pulling out the unanimous decision this time.
Two notes about the fight between these two: That was the last time Tim Kennedy lost, and (if the Jacaré fight doesn't reach the judges scorecards) Mayhem has been the only one to make it to the judges cards with Kennedy (he's done it twice!) Since then, Kennedy has gone on 4-0 (leading into the Souza fight), 3 by submission and 1 by KO. Mayhem has gone 3 - 2 -1. The two are evenly matched and highly respective of the others capablities. Their first two fights have proven to be entertaining, a third could be a masterpiece.
Strikeforce has the opportunity to put on an extremely interesting match up for whoever their new champion is, and the fact that it's the same person for each only makes things better. Mayhem is highly marketable and not afraid of the cameras. Putting him into a title match with someone who he has an extended history with could highly benefit the up and coming champion, as well as Strikeforce itself.
Regardless of who wins Saturday, keep an eye out for Mayhem. He'll be around the building somewhere, and if my line of thought is anywhere near correct, he could even end up in the cage post-fight.... again.
Here are some links for some of the fights mentioned for any interested::
(Note: This is my first article ever! Feel free to criticize me, article was written spur of the moment. Hoping to bang out more of these!)
Extra: A look at the current Strikeforce Middleweight roster off the top of my head. If i'm missing someone let me know.
Dan Henderson (LHW & MW) - just lost @ 185
Cung Le - Just won against Smith, Keep the title away from this guy, he held it up long enough with his acting BS..
Melvin Manhoef - KO'd by lawler Robbie Lawler - Decisioned by Sobral
Jacare- Fighting for Title, Beat Villasenor
Mayhem- Just beat Tim Stout, serving suspension
Nick Diaz (MW & WW) - According to Coker, entering Triathalon season, so a jump to 185 is unlikely. In talks to fight Cyborg.
Frank Shamrock - Retired
Scott Smith - Lost to Le
Joey Villasenor - Lost to Jacare
Siyar Bahadurzada = Fighting in Shooto
Karl Amoussou = Drew to prangley, DC'd by Nakamura @ DREAM15
Matt Lindland - TKO over Kevin Casey on SF Challengers
Benji Radach - Loss to Smith over a year ago
Trevor Prangley - Loss to Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy - Fighting for Title, just beat Trevor Prangley
Paul Bradley- Last SF fight was against Luke Rockhold, Last fought in KOTC
Luke Rockhold = Beat Paul in Feb
Cyborg Santos (Male) = In talks to fight Nick Diaz, most likely permanently at 170
Somehow related to SF, possibility of seeing them in their cage in the future:
Paulo Filho: Not worth the risk
Jorge Santiago : Introduce him to American casuals first
Mamed Khalidov: Repeat above