So, the past two weeks have seen myself and Peter covering the Light Heavy Weight and Middleweight divisions within Strikeforce in an attempt to make the organisation relevant in the world of MMA. This week it’s the turn of the Welterweight division. A division who’s champion – Nick Diaz – vacated the belt before moving to the UFC and challenging for the Interim Welterweight Championship and we all know how that ended!!
Whilst Strikeforce have an event planned for May 19th in which a rumoured Welterweight title fight will be held. It’s still a sad state of affairs that an organisation of Strikeforce’s size has taken 11 months to crown a new champion. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s get to the fights.
First up a title fight..
Nate Marquardt vs Tyron Woodley
This fight is already booked for Strikforce 40 on May 19th so it makes sense for this to be the first bout. Nate Marquardt is a world class fighter who has had a sensational fall from grace in the last 18 months. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Marquardt is the best fighter in this division. Woodley is a good, solid fighter who would provide a stern challenge for Nate and it would make for an entertaining fight over 5 rounds.
Jordan Mein vs Paul Daley
Both fighters have suffered from recent losses, however when these two step in the cage they go at it….hard! Daley is a slugger and quite possibly has the heaviest hands in the division. Mein is more well rounded than Daley and likes to finish fights be it by submission or KO. Either way this fight is ending early!!
Kazuo Misaki vs Tarec Saffiedine
Both these fighters are currently on two fight win streaks and would make for a solid fight between too good fighters. A win for either would help them up the rankings and only put the winner a fight away from a title shot.
BJ Penn vs Ben Askren
Okay, BJ may have said he’s retiring from MMA but I would love to see him against Askren. Askren is a world class wrestler who probably relies on this attribute a bit too much. His fights have a tendancy to be a bit dull but against BJ he would be going against a man who has one of the most active guards in MMA as well as some of the best takedown defence. For me this would make a great number 1 contender bout and just the motivation Penn needs to keep fighting. For Askren this gives him the chance to beat a living legend and add him to his growing list of conquered opponents.
Dan Hardy vs Yoshihiro Akiyama
Ok, so both these fighters are currently on losing streaks in the UFC and are so far removed from the title picture it’s unreal. So what better than to match them up in Strikeforce. Akiyama is a fantastic Judoka who’s takedown skills and defence had Jake Shields stumped for two rounds of their recent fight. Hardy is a striker, no if’s or but’s about it, he wants to take your head off with every strike. This would be a great fight for the fan’s as well as the fighters, as they look to get back to winning ways.
Over to you Chief…
Nate Marquardt vs Tyron Woodley
I’m going to continue the trend of agreeing with Dom in the title fight as its simply the fight that makes the most sense. Whilst the Welterweight division is quite deep by Strikeforce standards, its not the most talented and these two are certainly the standouts of the current crop. If the Nate Marquardt we all remember from the majority of his UFC career shows up, it could be a long day for Woodley. If not, I see Woodley taking this by decision.
Ben Askren v Rick Story
Ben Askren has the potential to be a top fighter in this weight class if he can get a better standard of fight than he’s currently getting as Bellator champ. Rick Storey definitely fills those shoes as he is a top level competitor on a bit of a slide. Lets not forget this guy his victories against Thiago Alves, Jake Ellenburger and Jonny Hendricks. Both a good wrestlers and are capable on their feet, which hopefully would make for a decent fight.
Bobby Voelker v Jay Heiron
Voelker has not fought anyone except Roger Bowling since July 2010 and is in need to move on after beating him back-to-back. Heiron’s last fight was a Bellator title defeat to Ben Askren that he earned by winning their season 4 Welterweight tournament. Both of these guys are good fighters who would add some talent and depth to the division.
Kazou Misaki v Mike Pierce
Kazou Misaki has been fighting since 2001 and has fought for the likes of PRIDE and Pancrase. He holds victories against Denis Kang, Phil Baroni and Dan Henderson, as well his last fight against Paul Daley. Pierce is another UFC fighter who is seemingly at the level just between the top tier guys and the rest. His only defeats in the UFC came against Jon Fitch, Jonny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck. There is no doubt that these two would go to war and I’d expect Pierce to make a mark on the Strikeforce Welterweight division.
Jason High v Jim Wallhead
Jason High has a 2-0 record since signing with Strikeforce, and a 6-0 record since his only UFC appearance in which he was beaten by Charlie Brenneman. Jim Wallhead is actually the second highest ranking UK Welterweight according to Fight Matrix, putting him ahead of UFC fighters John Maguire and John Hathaway. Currently fighting for BAMMA, he would make a good (British) addition to the division.