It is refreshing to see that Strikeforce has taken to naming its events after Robert Altman films. I can't wait for Popeye. The great thing about this card is that I don't have much to discuss about the undercard as it is complete grabage unless you are from Nashville and your friends are on it.
Miller vs. Stout
Who is Tim Stout? I don't know. All I can say is that he is going to be Mayhem's sparring dummy for as long as Miller feels like getting his work out. If they were going to do this kind of things, they could have just done an exhibition. Miller will probably use this as a good opportunity to work on is stand-up to get ready for the Lawler fight. I imagine he can submit Stout pretty much any time he wants. Of course, in MMA, anyone can beat anyone. But the odds are against it. Miller by whatever whenever.
Melendez vs. Aoki
This fight interests me greatly. We will finally be able to answer the question, "How many times can a very simple name be mispronounced in one telecast?" I am guessing over 20. "Ow" like as in "Ow that hurts." Plus "Key" As in "I lost my key." It isn't hard. Nevertheless.... Aoki is such a phenom as a grappler that his skills are like a striker with absurd knock-out power, he can win the fight given the slightest opportunity. Melendez, who like to scramble, needs to be careful to never leave himself open when he establishes contact. Given that Melendez's striking is miles beyond Aoki, who will never be that good standing, Melendez would be better served using his wrestling to keep Aoki off of him and making contact as seldom as he can. That isn't his instinct, but it would be a good strategy. I don't know that Aoki's lack of tights in this fight make any difference, I do think the cage will. Melendez is solid and powerful. Aoki is known for being fragile. I can see Melendez just putting him in a corner of the cage and working on him until he breaks. However, as I stated earlier, all it takes is one small mistake, one wrong position or placement of a hand or foot and AOki can blow out a knee or wrench an arm. It is a very interesting fights and I want both fighters to do well. I think the cage and the 5x5 rounds bends the advantage towards Melendez and that he can hurt Aoki for a 4th round TKO. I would be just as stoked to see an Aoki sub though. They are both solid fighters. I should mention that I think Melendez training with the Diaz brothers prepares him for a lot that Aoki can do on the ground. A lot, but not all. Look for Melendez to establish the jab early.
Mousasi vs. Lawal
Another great, great fight. Has there been anyone else like Lawal who has come into the sport with such ridiculous talent paired with a great mind for fighting? I can't think of any. He is a rare talent both physically and mentally. I can't think of anyone who talks strategy and approach with as much knowledge and objectivity. Mousasi is also preternatural. He has the in-fight composure that we have only seen out of Fedor. I don't know how to call this fight and that makes me excited to watch it. Mousasi is such a technical striker with very good defense, which is rare in MMA. Lawal is also a gifted striker, although he has a bit less clean approach to punching. They both have real power. Mousasi has been impressive off the ground, however Sokudjo was able to take him down a little too easily. I have to think that Lawal will be able to get him on the ground. If he can threaten from their or stand back up, I think he can take the fight with movement and econmocial striking. I Lawal is routinely successful at take-downs and positions he will be able to get a TKO sometime in the later rounds. Do I have to call it? The only dividing line I can see is Mousasi's big fight experience. errrr... I think it is a great fight either way. Mousasi by decision.
Henderson vs. Shields
This is the easiest fight for me to call. I have said before every Henderson fight that I feel that he might be the best athlete in the sport. I also have said that while not being dumb, he fights dumb. He gets into the other guys fights. Why? To get into Jake Shields fight, he would have to throw himself on the ground and let Shields crawl on top of him. I doubt that will happen. Shields is too small at this weight and has no striking to back up his off the charts grappling. Shields is good with take-downs but not great. Henderson has absurd punching power, can't be knocked out and is very hard to submit. The lack of a striking threat from Shields will mean that Henderson won't have to put that much energy into the stand-up and can fight off sub attempts. If Shields can set a manic grappling pace then he might be able to wear Henderson down, but when has he ever set a manic pace? I like Shields a lot, and feel that he is one of the best fighters in the sport, but this is a terrible, terrible style match-up for him. Henderson by epic KO in the 3rd.
This is a great main card, enjoy it.