Strikeforce returns to its home base of San Jose, Calif. this Saturday night with an event billed as the greatest male and female fighter on the same card for the first time ever. A rematch of a strikers dream match and a former champion bolster the event live from the HP Pavilion on Showtime. Here are FIGHT!’s picks for Saturday night’s bouts with odds courtesy of bodog. We are 65-35 with our picks in 2010.
Consensus no. 1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko meets the most decorated jiu-jitsu player in the division, Fabricio Werdum. The Brazilian is a two-time ADCC champion and holds an arm-triangle win over Fedor’s younger brother Aleksander. Despite his accomplishments, fighting “The Last Emperor,” who has never been stopped, submitted or dropped a decision in 34 contests, is the tallest task in the sport.
Werdum’s best bet is employing his world-class jiu-jitsu to secure and maintain top position. Emelianenko has lightweight hips, but “Vai Cavalo” won’t meet his demise by submission. In 15-minutes, wearing the Russian against unfamiliar territory—the cage, ala Gabriel Gonzaga-Mirko Crocop—can be enough to eek out a decision; however, the former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion has the speed and takedown defense to dispose of Werdum standing before the final bell.
FIGHT! Pick: Emelianenko
Scott Smith is Captain Comeback. Although he handed Cung Le his first loss in December, he still enters the rematch an underdog because the beating he took prior to emerging victorious. With Le’s movie obligations on the back burner and a full training camp under his belt, the flashy striker is likely to bounce the brawler off cage walls again before “Hands of Steel” can connect flush.
FIGHT! Pick: Le
(“Hi, we’re the Cyborgs, and we like to hurt people.”)
Aggression is a key component to victory and Jan Finney knows that. Unfortunately, Strikeforce’s 145-pound female titleholder “Cyborg” Santos has the wrestling to dictate where damage is dished out and nothing we’ve seen from her or Finney leads us to believe that the challenger can hang with the Brazilian’s muay Thay, either.
FIGHT! Pick: Santos
Welterweight turned lightweight Pat Healy challenges former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson for the first time since “The Punk” dropped the belt to Gilbert Melendez in December. “Bam Bam” last competed against Thomson’s training partner, Bryan Travers, earning a unanimous decision.
Thomson is the sharper, speedier striker and stronger finisher—all of which can shine thanks to reemphasis on wrestling against a fellow UFC veteran.
FIGHT! Pick: Thomson
FIGHT! Pick: Emelianenko Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Cung Le (-270) vs Scott Smith (+210)
FIGHT! Pick: Le Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Cris Santos (-1500) vs Jan Finney (+750)
FIGHT! Pick: Santos Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Josh Thomson (-450) vs Pat Healy (+300)
FIGHT! Pick: Thomson Resulting Outcome: CORRECT