This Saturday on Showtime, Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Sobral will be live from St. Louis. The night will be headlined by a rematch over ten years in the making between MMA veterans Dan Henderson and Renato Sobral. The card has been ravaged by injuries leading up the Saturday, losing two fighters on the main card that forced Strikeforce to scramble for replacements.
At roughly the same time as the Ultimate Fighter 12 finale, Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Sobral will have its hands full pulling solid ratings.
OVINCE ST. PREUX vs. BENJI RADACH
This late addition to the card pits two fighters who’s careers have barely overlapped. Benji Radach is a 25 fight veteran who has fought all over the world, and had a two-fight stint in the UFC. But, the Castlerock, Washington native hasn’t fought since April of 2009.
A relative newcomer, Ovince St. Preux fights out of Knoxville, Tennessee and sports a record of 8-4. He’ll be looking to extend his five fight win streak, which includes two victories under the Strikeforce banner. St. Preux has power in both his hands and feet, but he has shown a propensity to get taken down. He also has a submission game, as he was Inside MMA s 2009 runner-up for Submission of the Year with his calf slicer win over Ombey Mobley.
Radach has only fought twice since 2007, going 1-1 in those bouts with a technical knockout win over Murilo Rua and a knockout loss to Scott Smith. Both fights were at middleweight and Radach has fought as low as welterweight in the past, this fight however he will be going up a class to light heavyweight.
Although Radach holds the experience edge over St. Preux, so did Jason Day when St. Preux put him to sleep in eight seconds. Radach also has a deeper bag of tricks than St. Preux, but St. Preux has more power, more size and more athleticism than Radach.
MIKE KYLE vs. ANTONIO SILVA
In this battle of heavyweights, Mike Kyle comes in as a very late replacement for the injured Valentijn Overeem.
Although Kyle has previously fought at heavyweight, his most recent battles have been at light heavyweight. As if coming up in weight isn’t enough trouble, Kyle is facing one of the biggest heavyweights on the Strikeforce roster.
Antonio Silva checks in at 6’-4 and routinely cuts weight to reach the 265-pound mark. His sheer size, coupled with his surprising athleticism has given fits to many of his opponents. Silva is a winner of seven of his last eight fights, with his most recent outing a unanimous decision victory over former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski.
Kyle has won four bouts in a row since his ugly no contest against Travis Wiuff in early 2010 when Kyle (for the second time in his career) struck his opponent after the bell had already sounded. The fight will also mark the return to Strikeforce Kyle, as his last match was under the XMMA banner.
Kyle has mostly struggled when he has stepped up the level of competition he has faced, and Silva is going to present his biggest challenge, literally and figuratively, to date. That, along with the fact that Kyle took this fight on a week s notice, should mean a quick night of work for “Pezao” as he moves closer to contention for the Strikeforce heavyweight championship.
SCOTT SMITH vs. PAUL DALEY
The Scottrade Center in St. Louis is bound to light up with fireworks when these two welterweights take to the cage.
Daley (25-9-2), the British striker most notoriously known for his post-fight punch on Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 earlier this year, is looking for his third straight win since being booted from the Octagon. Smith (17-1), meanwhile, is looking to rebound from a loss at the hands, actually legs of San Shou kickboxer Cung Le.
Smith is making his debut at welterweight after a career as a middleweight and light heavyweight, and although the cut may take a bit of wind out of his sail, he has never shied away from a fight, regardless of what odds he s been against. Both fighters have a habit of throwing their heavy hands and putting opponents to sleep, but the fight is going to come down to the technical aspects of the striking game.
Although both have proverbial dynamite in their hands, Daley uses it more effectively. Despite his reputation as a fearless striker, Daley has never had problems with other strikers. It s always been grapplers that have given Semtex problems. Smith, on the other hand, wades into battles recklessly at times, and has previously wilted under the heavy strikes of James Irvin, Robbie Lawler and Le.
ROBBIE LAWLER vs. MATT LINDLAND
In a classic striker vs. grappler match, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler takes on Matt “The Law” Lindland in the evening’s third main card bout.
Both fighters are in a bit of a slump, as Lindland has lost three of his last five fights and Lawler is a loser of two of his last three.
Overall, the 35-year-old Lindland has a 22-7 record and Lawler, sporting a 17-6 record out of Matt Hughes HIT Squad Gym, is seven years younger than Lindland at 28.
The key for Lawler in this fight is to strike fast and strike often.
Nine of his 15 stoppages have come in the first round, and many of them in brutal fashion, and the longer the fight goes, the more the fight favors Lindland.
The Law, on the other hand, needs to avoid Lawler s hands at all costs. The last time he tangled with an explosive striker of Lawler s ilk, Vitor Belfort put Lindland to sleep inside of one minute. Lindland’s bread and butter has always been his supreme wrestling pedigree. Lindland has never been known as the most dynamic fighter, and for him to win this match, he may need to disappoint those in attendance by playing it safe.
RENATO SOBRAL vs. DAN HENDERSON
The main event pits the namesakes of the event together as Renato “Babalu” Sobral takes on Dan Henderson.
The contest is actually a rematch of the 1999 final of the Rings King of Kings one-night tournament, in which Henderson came out victorious with a razor-thin majority decision in a two-round affair. Both fighters spent a considerable amount of time in top position, but with no strikes to the head of a downed opponent, neither was able to score much damage with the positions. Sobral stung Henderson with an onslaught of pelting leg kicks from the outside, while Henderson used the trademark Team Quest dirty boxing to get inside on the submission- savvy Brazilian.
It s been 11 years since their initial match, and the 35-year-old Sobral is now a seasoned pro, with a 36-8 mark, including winning six of his last seven fights, with his most recent outing a unanimous decision win over Lawler. Henderson is the always-game veteran, sporting a 25-8 record, but at 40 years old and coming off of his first loss since 2008, is Father Time catching up with the Team Quest product?
One would think when two superb grapplers pair up, it usually negates the ground game and results in a stand-up affair, but Henderson has shown a penchant for taking down even the top jiu jitsu guys that he has faced. He s been submitted three times, but it was by the Nogueria brothers and Anderson Silva.
Likewise, Sobral has never shied away from working from the bottom, including a triangle choke over Henderson s former training partner Chael Sonnen.
The fight will come down to Henderson s ability to control Sobral’s dangerous guard or Sobral’s effective use of his dizzying array of submissions. Sobral will need to surprise Henderson with a submission while he stays busy from the bottom, as there isn’t much the Temecula, Ca. native hasn’t seen throughout his 13 year career.
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