By: William Holmes
This Saturday, Strikeforce and M-1 Global bring a co-promoted card to Chicago, Illinois as heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko takes on Strikeforce’s light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson. Dan Henderson is on the last fight of his contract, and Fedor Emelianenko runs the risk of being cut if he loses, so it is a very important fight for both fighters. It is unlikely that Strikeforce will keep both fighters on their roster at the high salary they are currently paid after this fight is over. The following is a preview of Saturday’s stacked card.
Tarec Saffiedine (10-3) vs. Scott Smith (17-8); Welterweight
Scott Smith is one of those fighters who’s fights always gets televised, not because he is the most talented, but because he is one of the most exciting. Smith takes on the tough and durable Tarec Saffiedine, who only has one KO victory on his resume. Saffiedine’s biggest victory to date has been against Brock Larson, but lost his last fight against top welterweight contender Tyrone Woodley. Scott Smith represents a fighter with the type of KO power that Saffiedine has yet to face. Smith has been 1-3 in his last four fights, with the long victory being an upset KO over previously undefeated Cung Le. Smith seems to live by the mantra of “knock him out or get knocked out” and I expect nothing less than this fight. I’m picking Scott Smith to win this fight by KO in the second round.
Paul Daley (27-10-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (7-0); Welterweight
Paul Daley has a history of having trouble with wrestlers, and his opponent Tyron Woodley should be no different. Daley suffered a controversial 1st round TKO to Nick Diaz in his last fight, but prior to that he won four in a row including victories over Jorge Masvidal and Scott Smith. Daley’s standup skills are elite, and very few welterweights can claim to have the kickboxing ability that Daley has. Tyron Woodley is a prospect with a very high ceiling. His wrestling ability has carried him so far, as he has shown that he can take an opponent down whenever he wants to. His most notable victories so far have been over Tarec Saffiedine and Andre Galvao. Woodley’s chin will be tested in this matchup. Daley has shown improved takedown defense over the years, and it will be interesting to see if he can stop Woodley’s takedowns. If the fight stays standing, Daley wins it. If it goes to the ground, Woodley wins it. I think this fight will wind up on the ground, and Woodley wins by decision.
Tim Kennedy (13-3) vs. Robbie Lawler (18-7); Middleweight
With Jason Miller crossing over to the UFC, the winner of this fight will likely find himself in line for another shot at Ronaldo Souza for Strikeforce’s middleweight championship. Of all the fights on the card, this is the toughest one to predict. Both fighters are evenly matched, with Lawler likely having an edge in the striking department and Kennedy having an edge in the grappling department. Both fighters lost to Souza, and both fighters defeated Melvin Manhoef. Of the two, Lawler has fought the tougher opponents, and holds victories over Matt Lindland, Scott Smith, Murilo Rua, and Frank Trigg. In a tough fight to choose a victory, I tend to look at common opponents. Against Souza, Kennedy took the fight to a close decision loss, while Lawler tired out and was submitted in the third round. Against Manhoef, Kennedy easily dismantled him in the first round with a submission, while Lawler scored a KO after getting his legs brutalized by Manhoef’s kicks. I think Kennedy will win this fight by decision, and this should be a fight of the night candidate.
Marloes Coenen (19-4) vs. Miesha Tate (11-2); Women’s Welterweight Championship
It’s not often that I get to write about Women’s MMA, but it an opportunity that is welcomed. Coenen and Tate get a chance to show Dana White that Women’s MMA is a sport that can catch on with the viewers. Coenen is coming off a difficult victory over Liz Carmouche, which saw Coenen score a victory by submission in the fourth round. Prior to that submission though, Carmouche was taking Coenen down regularly and scoring some effective ground and pound. Miesha Tate won her last fight by decision over Hitomi Akano, and one of her losses is to Sarah Kaufman, who Coenen defeated by armbar. Even though Coenen showed a propensity to get taken down in her last fight, and Miesha Tate’s nickname is Takedown Tate, I think Coenen will be too experienced for Miesha Tate and will win this fight by a late round submission.
Dan Henderson (27-8) vs. Fedor Emelianenko (31-3); Heavyweight
Dan Henderson has long believed that he will fight anyone, anywhere, even at heavyweight. If it wasn’t for Fedor losing his last two fights at heavyweight, this fight might have never happened. Now we get to see the former Welterweight and Middleweight Champion of Pride take on the former Heavyweight Champion of Pride. Dan Henderson has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and he certainly has a big challenge in front of him. Henderson is coming off of two straight knockout victories, prior to those victories he lost on national television to Jake Shields. A victory over Emelianenko will be his biggest win to date, and will help him command top dollar in negotiations with the UFC and Strikeforce. Henderson has prior experience fighting a heavyweight, as he lost by armbar submission to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in 2002, but beat Nogueira and Gilbert Yvel by decision in 2000 at the Rings promotion.
Fedor Emelianenko needs a win badly in order to stay relevant in the American MMA scene. It has been rumored that Fedor has been looking thinner recently, and that a drop to light heavyweight is a possibility. A fight against Dan Henderson might be a test for Fedor to see how he does against the smaller but more agile light heavyweights. The closest fighter in style to Dan Henderson that Fedor has fought is middleweight Matt Lindland, who Fedor defeated by armbar submission in the first round. Even though Fedor has two defeats in a row, he is still a very dangerous fighter, but his aura may have been damaged. His loss to Fabricio Werdum was a submission that came out of nowhere, and his loss to Antonio Silva may have been due to the large size difference between the two. Fedor still possesses fast, explosive, and deadly hands.
This fight will be a brawl, as both fighters like to throw haymakers with deadly precision and accuracy. It is unlikely that this fight will go past two rounds. Emelianenko should come in as the heavier fighter, but I don’t think that will be a big advantage for him in this fight. Henderson will cement his legacy if he can become the first fighter to ever knock out the great Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor Emelianenko will look to reestablish his aura by becoming the first person to ever knock out Dan Henderson. Based on their fighting styles, I think one fighter will experience his first loss by knockout. Fedor should win this fight, because if he doesn’t, it will be the official end of the Fedor myth, and quite possibly, the end of the M-1 global organization in the United States.