By Jaime C. Feal
Longtime UFC veteran Keith Jardine makes his second Strikeforce appearance after fighting to a draw with Gegard Mousasi in April. This time, however, Jardine has slimmed down to 185 pounds to challenge for the Strikeforce middleweight title against Luke Rockholt. Also on the card are Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, three staples on the Strikeforce roster. Catch all the action live on Showtime this Saturday night at 10 p.m.
Welterweight Division (170 lbs.):
Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley (9-0, 7-0 SF) vs. Jordan “Young Gun” Mein (23-7, 1-0 SF)
Woodley, the undefeated American Top Team product, is coming off the biggest win of his career over Paul Daley. Woodley will square off with Canadian welterweight Jordan Mein, who is riding a six fight win streak, most recently dispatching of Evangelista Santos by TKO in September. Woodley is not a crowd pleaser, as the former two-time NCAA All-American wrestler is content to use his athleticism and speed to take opponents down, and ride out decision wins. Although his style may not be the most exciting for the fans, “T-Wood” has implemented his game plan perfectly and is undefeated for a reason. Jordan Mein, at 21 years old, has a wealth of experience with 30 professional fights under his belt already. “Young Gun” loves to stand a and bang, utilizing kicks and solid hands. Undoubtedly Mein will want to keep the fight upright so he can hurt Woodley on the feet. Woodley has run through strikers by simply taking them down and getting them out of their element. Expect more of the same in this fight, as Woodley grinds out a victory using top control and conservative strategy.
Prediction: Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley wins by unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (8-1, 3-1 SF) vs. Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin (12-0, 3-0 SF)
Muhammed Lawal looks to get back into title contention as he takes on prospect Lorenz Larkin in a light heavyweight tilt. Larkin rose through the ranks of ‘Strikeforce – Challengers’ to earn his shot at the big time, and he is rewarded with a main card fight against one of the best wrestlers in the division. This is by far the biggest step up in competition in Larkin’s career. “The Monsoon” will want to use his Muay Thai striking, particularly his knees in the clinch, to gain an advantage over Lawal while standing. The question, of course, is whether he can stop the fearsome grappler’s takedowns. Lawal, the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, has faced elite strikers such as Gegard Mousasi, who he beat for the title, and Rafael Calvacante, who he subsequently lost the title to. These experiences will prove invaluable for Lawal, as dealing with the striking of Larkin will be relatively easy for him. “King Mo” will quickly look to ground and pound his opponent, as he knows the only time he’s ever tasted defeat in the cage was when he got into a stand-up exchange with a striker.
Prediction: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal wins by TKO, Round 2.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (18-8, 2-4 SF) vs. Adlan Amagov (9-1-1, 2-0 SF)
The one-punch KO power of Robbie Lawler is infamous. “Ruthless” always looks for the kill, and usually wants to land a big right hand to knock his opponent senseless. When fighters wind up on the wrong end of a Lawler punch, they often are laid out flat on the canvas, as was the case when Lawler knocked out Matt “The Law” Lindland. Lawler takes on a relative unknown in Adlan Amagov, who won two fights on ‘Strikefore – Challengers’ and has not lost a fight in four years, but faces a very stern test in Lawler. Amagov is fighting for the first time on the main card of a major Strikeforce event, and he is facing a formidable opponent, the likes of which he has not seen yet in his career. Amagov is a Russian kickboxer and grappler, but he would be wise to use his latter skill set against Lawler. Amagov needs to get this fight to the ground and take Lawler out of his game plan. This blueprint for success against Lawler has been demonstrated by grapplers Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Whether Amagov possesses the type of wrestling skills to counter Lawler’s upper body strength and aggression remains to be seen. Look for Lawler to bounce back from two straight losses with an emphatic knockout.
Prediction: “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler wins by KO, Round 1.
Strikeforce Middleweight Championship (185 lbs.):
Luke Rockhold (8-1, 7-0 SF) vs. Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine (17-9-2, 0-0-1 SF)
After dethroning Ronaldo Souza and taking his Middleweight strap in September, Luke Rockhold makes his first title defense against former UFC journeyman Keith Jardine. Rockhold is a kickboxer and BJJ practitioner from the renowned AKA camp, and Jardine trains with Jackson’s MMA and has an extremely unorthodox stand up style. “The Dean of Mean” has a habit of turning fights into scraps and making them ugly dog-fights, which suit him best. In his wins over Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell, Jardine used his unorthodox striking to land hard shots on his opponents. Rockhold is much more methodical, and will look to fight at a measured pace. Rockhold will likely try to take this fight down if he finds Jardine’s striking problematic. This is Jardine’s first fight at Middleweight, and the weight cut will be interesting. Theoretically, he could be great in this division as a big-framed middleweight, if he is able to use his size to keep the fight standing and defend against takedowns. This is exactly what he needs to do to frustrate and beat the once-defeated Rockhold. Fans should be treated to an entertaining main event; a championship bout that sees back and forth action, with two fighters leaving it all in the cage.
Prediction: Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine wins by TKO, Round 4.