Strikeforce: Carano Vs. Cyborg Main Card Preview
Tonight in San Jose, Calif. at the HP Pavilion a sport dominated by male competitors will be taking a backseat to the women as champion Gina Carano battles challenger Cris “Cyborg” Santos for the women’s championship in what is undoubtedly the most anticipated match in women’s MMA history. The card will also feature Renato “Babalu” Sobral taking Gegard Mousasi for the Light Heavyweight Title. In the Lightweight Interim Championship Bout Gilbert Melendez will take on Mitsuhiro Ishida. Rounding out the main event card Jay Hieron battles UFC 7 alum Jesse Taylor. Lets get to the predictions.
Gina Carano vs. Cris “Cyborg” Santos – 145 lb Female Championship Bout
Gina Carano is easily the face of women’s MMA and that shouldn’t come as a surprise to any who follow the sport. In a fan base dominated by men, it’s not hard to figure out how an attractive woman who can kick some butt became so popular. Carano comes into this fight undefeated while Santos has only one loss on her record which came in her MMA debut back in 2005. I was able to see Santos fight in person against Hitomi Akano back in May on the undercard of the Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz show. I have to keep in mind that Santos did not make weight but Akano and her camp still chose to proceed with the fight. After seeing Santos fight in person, I can tell you that she is absolutely huge. She used her size advantage to completely dominate the smaller Akano. Santos overpowered her as far as positioning and just overwhelmed her with strikes. While I don’t think she’ll have as easy of a time with Carano, I look for her to employ the same strategy and take the fight to the champion. I see Carano trying to strike with a “stick and move” strategy to frustrate Santos as well as take the fight to the ground where she can use her solid jiu-jitsu skills. In the end I think the aggressive strategy by Santos will be too much for Carano and the Santos will become the new women’s champion. My prediction is Santos by KO in the second round.
Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs. Gegard Mousasi – Light Heavyweight Championship Bout
This fight was supposed to happen two weeks ago at the ill-fated Affliction: Trilogy show. Strikeforce was able to add both fighters to their stable and bring the fight to tonights card. This match up features a complete contrast in styles. Mousasi likes to keep the fight on his feet and out strike his opponent while Sobral likes to keep the fight on the ground and use his submission skills to defeat his opponent. While Mousasi is a talented fighter, he is moving up in weight class for this matchup and that in itself could pose some problems. Sobral comes in with lots of experience with tonight being his 44th professional fight. When you get down to it, I look for Sobral to score some takedowns and earn points on the ground with his superior mat skills. My prediction is Sobral by split decision.
Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida – Lightweight Interim Championship Bout
This fight was originally supposed to be for the Lightweight Championship with Melendez looking to avenge a loss against Josh “The Punk” Thomson who currently holds the title but Thomson had to withdraw the from the match as he continues to recover from his leg injury. These circumstances give Melendez to try and avenge another loss in his career which came against Ishida back in 2007. When these two fought the first time Ishida was able to control Melendez with takedowns and wrestling. I look for him to do more of the same. If Melendez can somehow keep the fight standing up his chances of victory will dramatically improve. In the end I don’t see Melendez having an answer for Ishida’s takedown and ground game. My prediction is Ishida by split decision.
Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron vs. Jesse “JT Money” Taylor – Welterweight Bout
This matchup was supposed to be Hieron taking on Nick Diaz for the Welterweight Championship but plans had to be adjusted after Diaz failed to get licensed after failing to submit to a drug test. Because of these circumstances Taylor, who made his name on The Ultimate Fighter Season 7, steps in to give Heiron an opponent. Taylor comes into this fight having fought less than a month ago with little time to prepare for the experienced Hieron. Both men are good wrestlers but Hieron has the striking advantage. It’s that advantage along with the Taylor’s short time frame to prepare for this match that will lead to a victory for Hieron. My prediction is Hieron by second round TKO.