Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy takes place tonight on Showtime at 10:00 p.m. ET from the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold defends his title against Tim Kennedy and Tyron Woodley meets Nate Marquardt to appoint a new Strikeforce welterweight champion.
Tyron Woodley (10-0) vs. Nate Marquardt - Strikeforce Welterweight Championship
The last time we saw Nate "The Great" was in March of 2011 at UFC 128. Unfortunately, Marquardt would both enter and exit the Octagon amidst positive drug tests. He debuted in the main event of the 1st Ultimate Fight Night show against Ivan Salaverry and under-performed in a forgettable decision win and then whizzed hot for steroids.
Despite an impressive 10-4 clip in the UFC over the next half-decade, he was flagged again, this time for a weird Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) fiasco. Marquardt is a 3x King of Pancrase, he's tackled a stiff assortment of competition, 15 of his 31 wins are by submission and he once clawed his way into an unsuccessful title shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 73.
Other Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy Dissections
Here's Mike Riordan lending his take on Woodley's wrestling:
I do know that Woodley was Mizzou's first ever Big 12 wrestling champion, an All-American as a sophomore, didn't qualify for nationals his junior year and then was an All-American again as a senior.
I will say that as an avid wrestling-in-MMA apologist, Woodley's tactics offend even me. I've noticed little finesse or guile in his MMA wrestling game. He just kind comes straight forward and grabs the guy and puts him on the mat. It has worked thus far because he is a freaking powerful beast and he hasn't faced anyone with anywhere near the wrestling prowess to stop him. It is a shame because I have to imagine he has all the athleticism necessary to quickly develop a diverse MMA game.
It is interesting to note that out of that whole Mizzou bunch in MMA -- Askren, Woodley, Mark Ellis, and Mike Chandler (I think I'm forgetting one as well) -- the one with the most complete MMA game is the least accomplished wrestler of the bunch in Mike Chandler.
Continued in the full entry.
Woodley's raw wrestling has carried him to a flawless 10-0 pace in the sport but also attracted the fury of fight-fans for being a little too raw. In fact, the specs on Woodley are just that -- wrestling, and only wrestling. Shades of improved striking were revealed in his tidy dispatching of Andre Galvao but are yet to re-emerge ... and in high demand. The audience is already stamping this match up with a long line of Z's and lambasting Woodley for his lay-and-pray outlook. While MMA's merciless criticism is usually superficial and excessively harsh, in this case, it's really not.
Woodley's intention is to distract with half-hearted strikes and drop levels to cling to the nearest limb until his opponent is underneath him. Then, he keeps them there and offers no apologies for prioritizing control and position over damage and offense. I mean ... I'm not mad at the guy or whatever, but that's just what happens.
While Woodley is basically a one-dimension threat, that lone proficiency has been unstoppable thus far. We've seen spurts of moderate success from guard players against Woodley, but they were generally escapes, which only restarts action on the feet -- where an endless stockpile of more relentless takedowns await.
As a Pancrase upstart, Marquardt's base is in submission grappling and thus catches account for about half his wins -- yet he's not a traditional guard player. Of his 15 submissions, only 4 were conventional subs from guard (2 armbars, 2 triangles) and, barring a heel hook on Yves Edwards, the rest of Marquardt's tapouts are guillotines, rear-naked chokes and arm-triangles. This reinforces that Marquardt is more of an offensive submissionist who's at his best in transitions, scrambles and from a dominant position more so than off his back -- which is where Woodley will put him.
The other outstanding wrestlers that Marquardt's faced are Sonnen and Okami, and those matches unfolded with Marquardt being unable to stop takedowns and struggling to mount offense or create scrambles off his back. However, it's imperative to keep in mind that Okami and Sonnen are considerably more experienced, technical and hefty than Woodley -- and Marquardt still fought tooth and nail and had his moments.
Despite the poor style match up that Woodley presents, I'd probably take Nate here if it wasn't for the extended absence and his first run at 170. He's still a decent wrestler, he's highly technically in every aspect and position, he can do damage with short elbows off his back and with knees in the clinch and he's an ever present sub-threat. Woodley will have to be mindful of his head position when shooting takedowns, as Marquardt's guillotine is phenomenal, and Marquardt can be a monster on the feet with uppercuts, tight hooks and straights, but he's been too cautious to commit against wrestlers for fear of the takedown.
I've been leaning Woodley all week but, the more I break down the specifics, the more of a chance I'm giving Nate. For as overwhelming as Woodley's wrestling is, he's inexperienced against a high-level technician with multiple weapons. I could see his painfully predictable game-plan fizzling out in later rounds, but that's where Marquardt's layoff presents a concern in the cardio department. This could be an action-packed scramble-fest or a monotonous tranquilizer.
My Prediction: Tyron Woodley by decision.