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Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine staff picks and predictions

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Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine

Brent Brookhouse: That you can get Marquardt for under -300 at most books is amazing to me. It’s like a Christmas present come late to gamblers. Nate Marquardt by TKO, round 2.

Tim Burke: Saffiedine’s going to be a contender in the UFC welterweight division. Tarec Saffiedine by decision.

Mookie Alexander: This fight is pretty indicative of the total purging of the Strikeforce welterweight roster. Marquardt is going to win, but the big question is will he become the latest fighter "never allowed in the UFC again" who ends up back in the UFC? Nate Marquardt by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Let me just start by saying that with the matchmaking on this event, the only interesting talking points are going to be "who can score the major upset?" and "who likely doesn’t get to the UFC?". I think Tarec is UFC level and deserves to be moved regardless of the outcome, but I don’t think he will upset Marquardt here. Nate Marquardt by late TKO.

T.P. Grant: Marquardt has all the options here. He can choose to stand with Saffiedine and will likely be just fine on the feet, but if things aren’t going his way he can take Saffiedine down and beat him that way. Short of a one shot KO, I really don’t see how Saffiedine wins this one. Nate Marquardt by TKO, Round 3.

Dallas Winston: Good to see some respect for Saffiedine as I think he has a bright future. Marquardt is indeed a terrible match up for him, though he’s never been finished and I’m not sure Marq can do it. I think Tarec’s only advantage is footwork and range striking. Nate’s hands are killer in the pocket so I expect Saffiedine to stay way out on the fringe and try to out-point Marquardt with a busy jab, long kicks and plenty of elusive footwork. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a round or be damn competitive in most, but Nate’s looking scary at 170. Nate Marquardt by decision.

David Castillo: I’m not sure it’s that obvious that Nate Marquardt wins this one. He’s always had success on the feet against guys who could get bullied physically and technically on the feet. I don’t think Tarec is the type of guy to be pushed around that way. I think the Woodley fights are interesting contrasts: Nate nearly lost despite a glorious finish, whereas Tyron nearly lost in a boring affair. Just food for thought. I’m gonna start my return to these predictions as a big fat loser and go with Saffiedine. I love watching Marquardt fight, and hope he wins. But I think he gets overzealous, and the prediction nobody is making because they’re sensible people relying on fighter history...comes true. Tarec Saffiedine by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Marquardt: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Marquardt, Fraser, Dallas, Chris
Staff picking Saffiedine: Tim, David

Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring

Brent Brookhouse: If Staring were new to the sport, we might at least think there was some sort of route for him to win. Cormier is as much as a -2500 favorite for a reason. Daniel Cormier by KO, round 1.

Tim Burke: Cormier’s going to take Staring down, but Staring is slippery underneath guys. I’m telling you, he’s gonna pull off the upset. Dion Staring by armbar, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: The only thing I am wondering is just how impressive can Cormier take this, and if he will drop to 205 after. Daniel Cormier by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: This is going to be a brutal beating. And if there’s ever an immediate red flag needed, Staring once lost to Denis Stojnic. Daniel Cormier by TKO

T.P. Grant: Both of these guys are on the smaller side of heavyweight, so I expect a fairly high action fight as Heavyweight bouts go. Staring is no rookie, the man has been fighting since 1999, and he is primarily a ground fighter which is not good news for him. He will not be able to take Cormier down and I expect Cormier to end this with some heavy leather. Here is hoping he doesn’t break his hand again. Daniel Cormier by KO, Round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: Staring has spent his career at Golden Glory, who are absolutely fantastic at training guys on their feet, but not great elsewhere. And even then, he’s not so great on the feet. Daniel Cormier by TKO, round 1.

Dallas Winston: Should be a classic power double followed by teeth-rattling ground strikes in the 1st. Daniel Cormier by TKO.

David Castillo: Cormier. This is a comically one-sided fight, but I’m not sure just how embarrassing. Embarrassing enough to betray Dana White’s "MMA is the safest sport in the world" claims? Probably. Daniel Cormier by TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Cormier: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David, Chris
Staff picking Staring: Tim

Josh Barnett vs. Nandor Guelmino

Brent Brookhouse: Get real... Josh Barnett by submission, round 1.

Tim Burke: This is the last fight of Barnett’s contract, and he’s sick. Once Barnett breaks his hand again, Guelmino will have his way with him. Nandor Guelmino by TKO, round 2

Anton Tabuena: Josh is facing one of the few HW’s out there who are older than him. The only thing going for Guelmino is that he has been more active than Barnett in the past year... although 2 of the 3 opponents he faced have losing records, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s going to be Josh Barnett by Domination.

Mookie Alexander: This fight sure is happening. Nandor Guelmino sounds like a PED. Josh Barnett by whatever he wants.

T.P. Grant: Guelmino is a big and beefy heavyweight. The kind of guy that looks great on the poster and really is a good athlete, but when Barnett takes him down I don’t think his gas tank will last maybe one round. Guelmino is pretty much a power grappler and not much to write home out in the wrestling department or from off his back. Even with the touch of illness he had this week Barnett should dominate this, expect him to ride on Guelmino a little to let the Austrian wear himself out first, ala the Rogers fight. Josh Barnett by Submission, Round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I’m beginning to suspect there may be something a little fishy about Tim’s picks. So, can we go ahead and count this towards our season scores? Josh Barnett by submission, round 2.

Dallas Winston: That Tim Burke is one saucy canook. Josh Barnett by catch-wrestling clinic.

David Castillo: PED? I think his name sounds more like Mexican-based sauce. Guelmino might have some success on the feet, where his quickness and agility will make Josh sort of respect him, but once the fight hits the ground it’s over. And even it doesn’t, it’s over. Josh Barnett by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Barnett: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David, Chris
Staff picking Guelmino: Tim

Mike Kyle vs. Gegard Mousasi

Brent Brookhouse: Kyle plays very much into Mousasi’s game. He’s strong and can hit hard, but he’s also a bit more wide open while attacking, which gives Mousasi the chance to really pick him apart. I figure round one is close, Mousasi takes over in round 2. Gegard Mousasi by KO, round 2.

Tim Burke: It’s pretty obvious that Kyle has better judo than Mousasi, so Gegard won’t be able to get him to the floor. Kyle hits really hard, and he’s bigger than Mousasi. Easy call. Mike Kyle by TKO, round 1.

Anton Tabuena: This would probably be more competitive than the other bouts, but Mousasi has the better skill set and it should be his fight to lose. Gegard Mousasi by TKO.

T.P. Grant: Really glad to see Mousasi fighting again, I think the year break he took will benefit him in the long run. He has a lot of fights for how young he is and I think we will see a refreshed Mousasi armed with some new skills in the cage. Shaking off a year’s worth of ring rust won’t likely be a huge issue because Mousasi is very experienced, but Kyle is not an easy out. He is large and will likely try to bully Mousasi, which means we might get to see some of Mousasi’s excellent judo. Kyle will likely try to take Mousasi down and replicate the success King Mo had against him, but I think Mousasi is able to fend him off and finish this on the feet. Gegard Mousasi by TKO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: I’ve come to respect Kyle a bit and I’m really impressed with how clean his boxing is looking, and it’s kind of interesting that Mousasi hasn’t really faced many legit strikers. At all. I think Kyle will cause some problems with his probing jab and follow up cross but he’ll eventually wander into Mousasi’s wheelhouse where his chin won’t carry him through. Gegard Mousasi by TKO in the 2nd-3rd.

David Castillo: Kyle has improved, and he’s not the longer the guy that bit Wes Sims in my view, but that’s not enough to take down Mousasi. Granted, Mousasi’s been out, and hasn’t looked good at all for the past several years, but he’s always dangerous and competent: two things that’ll keep him from losing this weekend. Gegard Mousasi by Decision.

Staff picking Kyle: Tim
Staff picking Mousasi: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David, Chris

Ed Herman vs. Ronaldo Souza

Brent Brookhouse: I like Herman but I just don’t see a path to victory for him here. He just doesn’t have a notable advantage in any area. I want to give him some credit though, so I think he can drag it to a decision. Jacare by decision.

Tim Burke: Jacare’s good, but he can’t wrestle like a Team Quest guy. Shields was better at wrestling than Jacare, that’s why Herman lost to him. Herman uses his Ginger Power to put Jacare down on the floor, and uses his superior sub skills to put him away. Ed Herman by submission, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: I expect both these guys to be in the UFC after this event, and while I do think Herman is gritty and talented enough to make this a close fight, I think Jacare can eek out a victory here. Jacare Souza by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Major props to Herman for stepping in on short-notice and taking this fight against a very dangerous opponent. Herman is far from a walkover for Jacare, although his fight IQ shown with fighting from close range against Jake Shields was pretty discouraging. While Herman is a good grappler with power in his hands, Jacare is on another level and I think that after a well-contested opening round, Jacare secures a takedown and finishes him like the jiu-jitsu wizard that he is. Now that I’ve said all of that, please prepare yourselves for a stand-and-bang KO for the ages. Jacare by submission, round 2.

T.P. Grant: The main event of my jiu jitsu fan night. Herman is a skilled MMA grappler and Souza, well he is one of the best BJJ guys of all time. Jacare is better everywhere but I think Herman is good enough to survive and give Jacare a good, entertaining fight. Jacare Souza by Decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Most competitive fight on the main card. Jacare is better at subs (duh) but Herman is capable of defending himself in this area. Meanwhile, Herman is better at the clinch, and at wrestling. Jacare’s the safe pick, but screw it, I like the upset. Ed Herman by KO, round 1.

Dallas Winston: I like Herman here and don’t really consider it that much of a longshot. His clinch and counter-wrestling are excellent and, while Jacare has made impressive strides standing, I think "Short Fuse" has more power and slightly better technique. I can see him poking away with retreat punches as Jacare frenzies his way into range and clinching and hitting throws when Jacare becomes overly aggressive -- as long as Herman doesn’t engage on the ground and backs out after successful takedowns. Jacare finishes this instantly if he gets on top though. Ed Herman by decision.

David Castillo: Herman is a good upset pick if we’re talking 2 years ago. But Jacare continues to not just improve on the feet, but be downright dangerous. Herman has always been mediocre standing, and I’m actually kind of expecting a slugfest: Jacare wanting to prove he can box, Herman knowing this is only chance. Jacare byTKO, round 1.

Staff picking Herman: Tim, Fraser, Dallas
Staff picking Jacare: Stephie, Anton, Grant. Mookie, Brookhouse, David, Chris

Pat Healy vs. Kurt Holobaugh

Brent Brookhouse: *sigh* Pat Healy by TKO, round 1.

Tim Burke: Fact - Holobaugh once wrestled a 650-pound drunk bear named Victor, and took him down twice before getting mauled. After recovering in hospital for two years, he couldn’t find a real challenge anymore so he entered MMA. And he’s now 9-0. Healy’s a helluva grinder, but Holobaugh’s seen meaner than that. He’s gonna put Healy into hibernation. Kurt Holobaugh by decision.

Mookie Alexander: There are so many clear mismatches on this card that I’m not even sure Brent Brookhouse has it in him to be the one dissenting vote. Pat Healy by submission, round 1.

T.P. Grant: I really don’t want to say anything bad about a fellow Gracie Barra grappler, but lets say there is a bit of a drop off when Healy went from fighting Melendez in a title fight to fighting Holobaugh on the undercard. Healy is the better fighter clearly. Pat Healy by TKO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Healy could hold his own against mid-tier UFC lightweights and I hope we get to see it. Pat Healy by submission.

David Castillo: Healy by the advantage of size, skill, and experience. Pat Healy by TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Healy: Stephie, Anton, Mookie, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David
Staff picking Holobaugh:Tiim

Roger Gracie vs. Anthony Smith

Brent Brookhouse: While there are some crazy wide odds on this card, there are some real gems. Like the Marquardt fight and this one. Some books have Gracie as less than a -300 favorite. Roger Gracie by submission, round 1.

Tim Burke: We all know that Gracie is okay on the ground, but people are constantly telling me that football players are the best all-round athletes in the world. And the Anthony Smith that I know didn’t take no crap in his six seasons as a safety in the NFL. Seven career INT’s is way harder to get than a few colorful belts. Anthony Smith by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: Takedown, pass, mount, choke. Roger Gracie by Submission

T.P. Grant: Smith is a tough guy, I give him all the credit in the world but I don’t think he has the power to put away Roger or the ability to stop his takedowns. And once on the ground... well its Roger. Roger Gracie by Perfectly Applied Rear Naked Choke, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Roger is a leviathan middleweight, will only strengthen the areas he needs to improve (striking, wrestling). Roger Gracie by submission.

David Castillo: Another fight that needs little to zero analysis. Smith stands no chance. Roger Gracie by submission, round 1.

Staff picking Gracie: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David, Chris
Staff picking Smith: Tim

Tim Kennedy vs. Trevor Smith

Brent Brookhouse: Wow...this card is garbage. I hope it has a lot of impressive finishes so that everyone can declare it "great." Tim Kennedy by wiiiide decision.

Tim Burke: Trevor’s nickname is "Hot Sauce". Kennedy’s got that whole military thing going for him, but where’s the fancy nickname? That’s right, there isn’t one. What would you rather enter the cage with - combat experience or a Frank’s sponsorship? No contest. This is Strikeforce, nobody’s foolin’ around here. Trevor Smith by submission, round 3.

Anton Tabuena: It’s getting weird picking all these huge favorites. Tim Kennedy by TKO.

T.P. Grant: This one could be a fun grappling match or a sloppy boxing match. In either event I favor Kennedy. Tim Kennedy by Decision.

Dallas Winston: Hot Sizzle! I’d much prefer this Smith to be fighting Roger. Trevor’s pretty legit but Kennedy has great sub defense and should be be better everywhere while shutting down Smith’s specialty. Tim Kennedy by GnP TKO.

David Castillo: Say what you want about Kennedy, but even though Smith is competent, Kennedy always shows up. Tim Kennedy by Decision.

Staff picking Kennedy: Stephie, Anton, Mookie. Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David, Chris
Staff picking Smith: Tim

Ryan Couture vs. K.J. Noons

Brent Brookhouse: How far has Noons fallen when he goes from beating Nick Diaz and then putting up a hell of a fight in a decision loss in the rematch, and now he’s only a very, very small favorite on the deep Strikeforce undercard against Ryan Couture? I still like KJ and I don’t believe that he loses this fight. KJ Noons by decision.

Tim Burke: Steven Seagal is going to be cornering Noons because he can’t get it on with any other Couture (Kim turned him down too), so that makes this a little harder to pick. But Couture’s boxing is coming along to the point where he’s thinking of signing with $kala and making a go of it on the pro circuit, so I’ll go with the guy who didn’t lose to James Countryman in Cincinnati in 2009. Ryan Couture by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: At least this one becomes more interesting because Couture is getting a huge step up in competition. I’m interested in seeing if Couture can take this to the ground and try to submit Noons, because stylistically, I don’t think he can hang on the feet. I hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s KJ Noons by Decision.

T.P. Grant: This one is an interesting match. Noons’ boxing tends to get overrated, but he is a problem on the feet for a striking as inexperienced as Couture. Noons has stood in with some excellent fighters, but Couture might have enough grappling to take Noons down and take two rounds. I’ll play it say and take Noons. KJ Noons by Decision.

Dallas Winston: I’m interested in this as well and very pleased with the way Couture has rounded out his game. His striking is coming along nicely and I could see him chipping away at Noons from a distance, especially if KJ tries to unload power from his pockets. Overall, Noons gets to follow his bread and butter strategy and it should propel him to a decision. KJ Noons by decision.

David Castillo: Couture’s still too raw for my liking in this one. In another year or two, he takes this, but I prefer Noons’ power, and ability to fend off the takedowns in this one. K.K. Noons by Decision.

Staff picking Couture: Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Noons: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David, Chris

Jorge Gurgel vs. Adriano Martins

Brent Brookhouse: I miss the days when people pretended that Gurgel should only grapple. Because the guy would NOT still be around if he wasn’t known for being an exciting brawler. Jorge Gurgel by decision.

Tim Burke: Are jokes about Gurgel’s man love for Rich Franklin still relevant now that he’s married to Zoila Frausto? No? Dammit, that’s all I had. These two are too evenly matched. I’m saying it goes to a draw.

T.P. Grant: Two Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts who like to brawl. I think Martins will be able to control range on the feet and can grapple with out falling into a guillotine choke, and will get the win. Adriano Martins by Decision.

Dallas Winston: I mean no offense to Gurgel, but his kickboxing is better attuned and more effective than his grappling for MMA. Martins is a Scouting Report entry who fights the same way, and I actually think this fight should be about dead-even. Jorge Gurgel by split decision.

David Castillo: Gurgel is never a sake pick, no matter who the opponent. He’s not a bad fighter. He just makes bad decisions. So much so that he’s become a symbol for it. Adriano Martins by Decision.

Staff picking Gurgel: Stephie, Anton, Mookie, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, Chris
Staff picking Martins: Grant, David
Staff not caring enough to pick either side: Tim

Mike Bravo vs. Estevan Payan

Brent Brookhouse: The fight with the closest odds on the card. Payan should take this. Estavan Payan by decision.

Tim Burke: Even I can’t come up with enough bullshit about this fight to make this sound interesting. No one’s taken Bravo yet. That’s all I got. I tap out. Mike Bravo by TKO (exhaustion), round 2.

Anton Tabuena: I’ll be honest, and I’m not trying to be a dick or anything, but since I don’t know who much or care about these last two guys, I’ll just use this section to thank Strikeforce for all the fun fights and memorable moments over the years. Their rise from a small regional promotion all the way to the big leagues is a great story, proving that they had a successful model that could be be followed by others. It’s been a good run, so thanks for everything and let’s all bid farewell to one of the best promotions in the history of the sport. Cheers Strikeforce, you’ve earned it.... Oh and I guess it’s Payan by TKO.

T.P. Grant: From what I’ve seen Payan is a solid striker for a Strikeforce undercard and will keep the fight standing. Estevan Payan by Decision.

Staff picking Bravo: Tim, Chris
Staff picking Payan: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas, David