One of the things we pride ourselves on at Bloody Elbow is that we're fans first. But the combination of being a fan and still being a member of the "MMA media" makes it hard to simply let go and enjoy events sometimes. Sometimes I lose focus of what makes this sport so great and every fight on a card comes with some sort of huge negative. Today I'm going to run down Saturday night's Strikeforce card while letting my jaded side take over. Tomorrow I'll balance it out with some relentless optimism.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson
The big question with this fight has always been if it really and truly matters in any way. This is a question that Nate tried to answer on MMA Nation earlier this week:
Henderson may be Strikeforce's best at 205lbs (which means he's the 8th best LHW in the world per the USA TODAY/MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings) but this fight is being contested at heavyweight. That makes it essentially a gimme for Henderson. If he loses, so what he's not a heavyweight. If he wins... damn, he just beat a legend.
Except Fedor, the legend in question, is coming off two straight losses and hasn't looked like the same invincible Russian cyborg that terrorized Pride since he mauled Tim Sylvia at the first Affliction show.
So basically, it matters, but mostly because Fedor is clinging on to the last vestiges of greatness. But even if Fedor wins, it'd be a win that rings somewhat hollow in a way that so many in his career have. The talk of questionable competition has dogged Fedor for years, if he beats a light heavyweight (who has also competed successfully at 185) what doubts does that really erase about his ability to still compete at heavyweight?
A win by Henderson would be big though. It would also make a return to the UFC more likely, and let's not fool ourselves...everyone is Strikeforce is fighting to land a spot in the UFC after the eventual Strikeforce closure.
Women's MMA...blech. To be fair Marloes' fight with Liz Carmouche was tremendous. But who gets excited about women's MMA, really?
Every Robbie Lawler fight comes with a few articles talking about how great Robbie could have been. But Robbie is Robbie. There are plenty of very talented fighters who never worked out to be more than pretty good. Lawler probably did about as much as he could have with a game that was never built for greatness. There are plenty of fighters who have more interesting stories of wasted talent than Robbie Lawler.
As for Kennedy? He has four wins in Strikeforce and those men have gone a combined 6-13-1 in their last five fights. The only one to be above .500 is Zak Cummings. Is Kennedy talented? Sure. But there's nothing about his resume that strikes me as proof that Kennedy is a major part of the future of middleweight.
Both men have already proven that they can't beat Ronaldo Souza, which means this is a battle for runner-up status in the Strikeforce 185 division.
I've fawned over the game of Paul Daley plenty in the past. I find him tremendously fun to watch fight. But, as of right now, Dana White shows no signs of backing down from his talk that Daley will never fight in the UFC again after his post-fight cheap shot at Josh Koscheck. If that does hold up, what do fights like this mean?
Tyron Woodley deserves his status as a prospect to watch, but we also need to remember things like the Nathan Coy fight. Woodley showed in that fight and during portions of his last fight against Saffiedine that he has a long way to go before he becomes the complete mixed martial artist he is going to need to be to compete against the top level guys at welterweight.
This could be a fun striking match on paper. In Strikeforce, that just means that someone is going to get poked in the eye thirty seconds in and this ends up as a draw. Smith also hasn't learned to cover up to the body and tends to react to every body shot like Virgil Hill against Roy Jones Jr. So, best case we probably see Scott folded over with a kick to the body, worst case we see an eye poke stoppage. That's a Scott Smith fight for you.