Leland Roling: Jardine is a tough man to beat, but Rockhold should have this on lockdown, especially if he can bring this fight to the ground. Luke Rockhold via decision.
T.P. Grant: This match up left my scratching my head. Jardine, while an able and respected fighter, has never made the cut to 185 lbs in his MMA career. Luke Rockhold is coming off an impressive win over ‘Jacare’, the biggest of his career. I don’t think there is anything Jardine can really do to Rockhold that is going to slow him down for long and I expect the cut to hit Jardine hard. Rockhold takes firm control of this fight when it moves to championship rounds. Luke Rockhold via Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Let it be said that I suck at Strikeforce predictions. I think it’s a combination of there being a lot of untested fighters, plus fighters with some real down time between fights, so there end up being too many variables, and I get all muddled. Case in point: this fight. Jardine’s first time at 185, plus he’s getting up there in years, plus Rockhold only has 1 fight in the last 2 years. See what I mean? I think the key to beating Jardine is to rush him and knock him out, which Rockhold won’t do. Still, the champ has enough striking skill to outpoint Jardine. I think. But don’t rule an upset out here. Luke Rockhold by KO, round 3
Tim Burke - I actually figured Jardine might have a shot here, until the press conference yesterday. Rockhold is still inexperienced and doesn’t have a lot of power in his hands, which is Jardine’s obvious weakness. I figured Rockhold definitely held the edge, but Jardine didn’t deserve to be a 4-1 dog. But at the PC yesterday, he said the cut was tough and he was still "big" less than 24 hours before weigh-ins. That’s going to be a draining cut even if he makes it, and I’m completely behind Luke now. I still can’t see a finish though. Luke Rockhold by decision.
David Castillo: Despite all the hate being thrown Jardine’s way, I’ve gotta be the one to put on the stupid cap and say that I think Rockhold will have some trouble. I think it was Subo who brought up on fight linker’s podcast how uinique Jardine’s ability is to drag opponents down to his level and make everyone in the cage look like crap. Which is true when Jardine is not being floored by a left hook. I don’t know if that principle will hold here, as Rockhold doesn’t have a lights out left hook, but he is the better fighter and I think his "unorthodox" striking will be the difference in contrast to Keith’s not-unorthodox but sloppy, awkward striking. Luke Rockhold by TKO, round 4.
Staff Picking Rockhold: Leland, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, Gould, David, Roth
Staff Picking Jardine: Dallas
Brent Brookhouse: I like Amagov a lot. He’s got very good technique for MMA striking and is actually exactly the right kind of guy to pick Lawler apart. Robbie has the chance for a one shot KO and you can never write him off, but I think he loses all three rounds here. Adlan Amagov by decision.
Leland Roling: I’m not sold that Robbie Lawler walks through Amagov. Sure, Robbie possesses a brutal one-punch style of fighting, but I still believe Melvin Manhoef wrote the blueprint for strikers. Maintain distance and batter Lawler’s base. Amagov can do that with precision. The question is whether he can avoid Lawler’s power to start and avoid leaning in too far later in the fight. I’m not convinced he can win, but I believe he’s a surprisingly good bettor’s pick. Robbie Lawler via TKO
T.P. Grant: Two strikes going into cage, Lawler wants to brawl and Amagov wants to box. Lawler’s camp has been adamant saying that his recent diagnosis with asthma will make all the difference with Lawler’s cardio problems. I still question how Lawler trains, he is infamous for skipping sparring sessions and preferring to lift weights rather than work on skills or cardio. I think Amagov stays on the outside, survives the early rounds and drags Lawler into deep water. Adlan Amagov via TKO, Round 3
Fraser Coffeen: Lawler’s loss to Tim Kennedy looms heavy in my mind. Though only 29, he’s an 11 year veteran, and those years are catching up with him. Lawler grew more patient in his fantastic post-UFC run, but as of late, he seems to be moving back towards that one punch KO style he used to employ, and not with great results. I think he relies on the Hail Mary here. And I think it fails him. Adlan Amagov via KO, round 1
Tim Burke - If Robbie Lawler could remember that he used to be a wrestler, he’d probably be able to take this without a ton of difficulty (despite Amagov’s improvements on the floor). But he’s purely a standnbanger now, and I don’t think that’s going to fly with a more technical striker like Amagov. He’s not throwing the hail mary in this one. Adlan Amagov by decision
David Castillo: Surprised by the amount love for a completely unknown Amagov. He is a technical striker, but I think of him as an incredibly poor man’s version of Mamed Khalidov. And he gets way too loose with some of the more "cute" tactics of his on the feet (like the roundhouse kick, which he seems to love). Inexperienced, and unrefined, I think Lawler catches him at some point. Robbie Lawler by TKO, round 2.
Staff Picking Amagov: Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, Gould
Muhammed Lawal vs Lorenz Larkin
Brent Brookhouse: I hate this fight. This is where the lack of depth in Strikeforce hurts them and their ability to bring along fighters correctly. I’m a huge fan of Larkin, but he’s not ready for Mo yet. That was made pretty clear in struggling in his win against "The Slim Shady of MMA" Nick Rossborough. Larkin is a lot of fun to watch but he has too many holes in his wrestling game and, as much as it pains me to say this, Lawal will exploit those badly. Muhammed Lawal by decision.
Leland Roling: Similar to the Mein vs. Woodley showdown, it’s a high-flying striker vs. wrestler battle that will likely hit the ground quickly. I think Larkin has a decent chance at catching Lawal with something crazy in the opening exchanges, but it’s difficult for a fighter who relies heavily on kicks to maintain his legs against a world class wrestler. Lawal shoots, gets a takedown, and batters Larkin to a victory. Muhammed Lawal via decision.
T.P. Grant: Gian Villante was able to take down Larkin without much effort, I think Lawal is going to have a field day with Larkin. The only way I think Larkin is able to stay competitive in this fight is if we see the see Lawal that wanted to box and showboat against Feijao instead of wrestle. And even then I think Larkin would have to get lucky to notch a win. Muhammed Lawal via Decision.
Tim Burke - See above re: Mo’s wrestling. The only difference to me is that I don’t see Mo being tentative on the ground like he was against Mousasi. I think he’s going to get a GnP finish. Muhammed Lawal by TKO.
David Castillo: Easy pick. If Larkin had more power, I might be inclined to consider him for an upset pick, but he doesn’t, so I can’t. Even so, Lawal has a pretty sturdy beard, and so I don’t expect him to get hurt at any point. It took Feijao a hurricane of strikes to finally put Mo down, and besides, Larkin won’t be able to avoid the takedowns. At all. Because I think Lawal is a student of the game, and is an underrated grappler, I see him passing guard and pounding Larkin out. I predict it’ll be the most dominating performance of the night, actually. Muhammed Lawal by Rear Naked Choke, round 2.
Staff Picking Lawal: Leland, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, Gould, David, Roth, Dallas
Staff Picking Larkin:
Tyron Woodley vs Jordan Mein
Brent Brookhouse: Mein is a good fighter but Jason High already showed how to take the decision against him. Woodley is very good at what needs to be done to get the win here. Tyron Woodley by decision.
Leland Roling: It’s hard not to like Jordan Mein. He’s exciting to watch and takes the risks necessary to win. But Woodley’s wrestling will take full advantage of that aggressiveness, plowing Mein into the canvas and controlling him from the top. Tyron Woodley via decision.
T.P. Grant: I’m going to side with Brookhouse and Rolling here. Wooldey’s wrestling is just too good for Mein. Crazier things have happened than Mein knocking out Woodley, but I don’t see it happening. Tyorn Woodley via decision.
Tim Burke - While I do think that Tyron Woodley is an excellent wrestler, people are putting way too much stock into the Mein loss to Jason High. That was a closer fight than people seem to think, and it was 16 months ago. Mein’s takedown defense has improved a lot since then, and I still feel that Woodley doesn’t take punches all that well. Mein at +280 is a joke, this a close fight. GO CANADA! Jordan Mein by TKO.
David Castillo: Mein has picked up some good wins, but I wasn’t too impressed. He beat a Zaromskis that was totally uninterested, and Santos is just not a good fighter at this weight (or any weight for that matter). Even if Woodley decides to stand and bang, I like his chances. Tyron Woodley by decision.
Staff Picking Woodley: Leland, Brookhouse, Fraser, Gould, David, Grant, Roth
Staff Picking Mein: Tim, Dallas
Tarec Saffiedine vs Tyler Stinson
Brent Brookhouse: Stinson’s reach may be a problem but I still like Saffiedine to get inside and outwork him to take two of the three rounds. Tarec Saffiedine by decision.
Leland Roling: At a glance, Saffiedine is the clear cut favorite in this match-up. He has the punching prowess to get the job done standing, and he possesses enough credible wrestling skill to maintain his feet or control from the top. There is a chance that won’t work against Stinson. At 6’3" tall, Stinson has a 6" height advantage on top of proven knockout power. His lone crutch is on the ground, and Tarec hasn’t been submitting opponents left and right. This could get interesting, possibly an upset in the works. Tarec Saffiedine via decision.
Tim Burke - I don’t even know why Stinson got this fight, to be honest. Quinn Mulhern or Jason High would have been much better tests for the Sponge. I guess 15 second KO’s will do that for you. It’ll probably be exciting, which is a good way to start a card. But Saffiedine will expose a lot of the holes in Stinson’s standup game, despite the height/reach advantage. Tarec Saffiedine by decision.
David Castillo: I could see this being a slugfest early ,and Stinson should catch Saffiedine early, who might be unsuspecting, but after that it’s all Tarec. He’s more technical, and more polished. Tarec Saffiedine by decision.
T.P. Grant: With everyone and their brother picking Saffiedine it seems crazy to pick Stinson. Well, challenge accepted. The huge height difference I think will give Saffiedine fits, and Stinson has legit KO power. Tyler Stinson by TKO
Staff Picking Saffiedine: Leland, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, Gould, David, Roth, Dallas
Staff Picking Stinson: Grant