Robbie Lawler and Matt Lindland: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Sherdog.com staff put their reputations on the line with predictions of Saturday's Showtime-televised Strikeforce “Henderson vs. Babalu II” card.
Dan Henderson vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral
Jordan Breen: I'm happy to see this rematch after a decade, since their first fight was actually a majority draw, but somehow one judge giving the fight to Henderson allowed him to win the 1999 King of Kings tournament. I feel we're probably in for a tight decision, but think the ball is in Babalu's court: if he is dedicated to the takedown and sets it up moderately well, I think he has enough top game in to win. Henderson, for all his Olympic wrestling credentials, has been taken down many, many times in his career. Sobral can exploit it, so long as he's not haphazardly throwing haymakers as he did against Chuck Liddell and Jason Lambert.
Jack Encarnacao: Here, back at light heavyweight, Dan Henderson is less likely to suffer the cardio issues that cost him his last outing at 185 pounds against Jake Shields, which he’s partly attributed to an ill-advised medication he was taking before the bout. This takes away a key way I think Sobral could take the fight: on points with peppering strikes as Henderson’s dangerousness fades. I see Henderson corking the right hand and forcing Sobral into constant circling, preoccupying the Brazilian and hampering his ability to shoot for a takedown without telegraphing it. While underrated as a wrestler, Sobral won’t find the success he needs trying to take Henderson down, especially in the likely event he ends up in the clinch with the two-time Greco-Roman Olympian. Henderson was dominant in clinch striking against Sobral in their fight in Rings, and it’s not as if Sobral has made particular strides since in his dirty boxing. When Sobral was able to take down Henderson in that two-round fight, the former Pride champion looked comfortable, not in danger of being submitted. The bout was more than 10 years ago, but these aren’t two fighters who have really changed much, save perhaps for Henderson improving the timing of his overhand right. If Hendo doesn’t catch and stop Sobral with the shot, look for him to dictate the terms of the fight toward a decision win.
Tristen Critchfield: Through no fault of his own, Henderson hasn’t been as active as he should be since signing with Strikeforce. Barring any ring rust, he should be able to impose his will on “Babalu” in this matchup. Henderson has enough finishing power to threaten on the feet, and that should open things up for the Pride veteran to get the takedown. From there, Henderson will unleash some ground-and-pound, but Babalu will be game enough to go the distance. Henderson by decision.
Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Lindland
Tony Loiseleur: In true Robbie Lawler fashion, the H.I.T. Squad fighter is going to want to bang, so I’m confident that even if Lindland does force Lawler to the canvas, he’ll find his way back up and break away from the clinch where Lindland is best. Lindland won’t use Lawler’s kryptonite in chopping him down with leg kicks and will probably eat several hard punches trying to close the distance. Thus, I see it as a matter of time until Lawler lands the fight-ending punch, somewhere by or before round two.
Luca Fury: The two main questions I have in this fight are, A, how much does Lindland have left in the tank, and, B, can Lawler keep this fight standing? Lately, Matt has looked slow and uncoordinated, which will be his downfall against a striker of Robbie's caliber. While Lawler doesn't have elite takedown defense, he should be able to stuff a good amount of the aging Lindland's takedowns, and proceed to out-box the former Olympian. Ultimately, I see Lawler scoring a TKO win. After this fight, Lindland retirement talk could be a popular topic.
Brian Knapp: I think Lawler wins by knockout. Too much power for Lindland, and youth is not on the side of "The Law."
Antonio Silva vs. Mike Kyle
Lutfi Sariahmed: Kyle will show up and give Silva a fight. Will he be successful? No…but at least it'll be entertaining. Give me Silva in round two.
Tim Leidecker: Brazilian behemoth Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva went from a rumored fight against Fedor Emelianenko to taking on Alistair Overeem’s little big brother Valentijn to locking horns with notorious rule-breaker Mike Kyle, who took the fight on a week’s notice and fought his recent bouts at light heavyweight. While Silva was looking to keep the fight standing against his compatriot Fabricio Werdum a little more than a year ago, he will look to take Kyle down in this one. Prediction: Pezao will stop Kyle with punches from top position in the first round.
Jack Encarnacao: Kyle is enjoying a nice late-career renaissance, so it may be ill-advised to use his past shortcomings as indicative of how he’ll present against Bigfoot on Saturday. But the late notice for the fight won’t allow Kyle much time to drill against the kind of submission defense lapses that cost him fights against the likes of Wayne Cole and Fabricio Werdum, the latter of whom he had stung with punches before feeding “Vai Cavalo” a guillotine as he tried to rise to his feet. Despite Kyle’s improvements, the past will prove prologue when it comes to submissions, as Silva’s BJJ instinct will catch a steamrolling Kyle in the first or second round.
Paul Daley vs. Scott Smith
Loiseleur: Like everyone, I expect this bout to be fireworks on the feet, and if either fighter caves to that pressure, I see Daley as the one benefiting from it the most. Though Smith is known for his toughness under fire and his willingness to endure wars on the feet, that toughness is not an unlimited resource and doesn’t mean he won’t be out-struck either. He may have the inclination and enough grit left to weather through the Briton’s onslaught, but “Semtex” is a more accurate striker. Barring another miraculous Smith comeback in the final seconds, Daley should win the decision.
Breen: It feels just to see a mid-level journeyman like Smith find his niche as a never-say-die action fighter, and be able to make good paydays to swing for the fences. However, his competitive downfall at 185 pounds was not his size; it's that his ground game lacks and he is magnetic to his opponent's strikes. Even if he's bigger than Daley, and has the power to keep "Semtex" from just going crazy on him, he's going to end up eating too many strikes, from the head to the toes, en route to a stoppage or unnecessarily painful decision.
Critchfield: Call it a striker’s delight, with a combined 32 knockouts or technical knockouts between these two. Sucker punches aside, the talents of the British slugger Daley are hard to ignore. On the biggest stage since his release from the UFC more than six months ago, Daley rises to the occasion and finishes the fight in the second round. Daley by TKO round two.