Dan Henderson in 2003. | J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com
The Strikeforce “Feijao vs. Henderson” preliminary card is examined by Sherdog.com staff:
Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship
Dan Henderson vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante
Brian Knapp: I like Cavalcante and always have, but I still have some real concerns about his durability, especially if Henderson can draw this one out and make it ugly. Standing, Cavalcante has pretty significant technical advantage, and Henderson has never been known as a great game planner. I think the odds swing in Henderson's favor the deeper the fight goes, though I would not be surprised at all to see "Feijao" hurt him standing and finish him on the ground. I'll take Henderson by late stoppage or decision.
Tony Loiseleur: Where Cavalcante was able to capitalize on Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal's relative inexperience, he won't find a similar liability in Henderson. Less fatigued in that bout than Lawal, Feijao thus had an easier time putting his hands and knees on the internationally decorated wrestler, eventually putting him away when a gassed and battered Lawal could no longer defend. While an Olympic wrestler himself, wrestling will be the last thing on Hendo's mind as he's going to come out looking to skewer Feijao's head with his right hand. I think Cavalcante's best chances lie in taking Hendo to the canvas and stealing rounds there -- lesser wrestlers than Henderson have been able to do that with frequency, and Cavalcante should be able to replicate this successfully if that's what he's planning to do. Somehow though, I doubt this will be the case, and while both Feijao and Henderson have stamina issues -- exacerbated further by this being a five rounder -- I still have faith in that right hand of Hendo landing early. If Cavalcante indulges him on the feet, he's probably going to get laid out somewhere in the first few rounds. I'll take Henderson by KO or TKO to add yet another belt to his already burgeoning collection.
Todd Martin: Feijao is the more proficient striker than Henderson, and “Hendo” is likely to be as stubborn asÂ usual about not taking the fight to the ground. Even taking that into account, Henderson may have the best chin in the sport and has the type of knockout power that has stopped Feijao before. Plus, if Feijao is getting the best of the standup, Henderson has plenty of time to change course and utilize his elite wrestling game. Feijao's got a solid chance, but Henderson's the likely winner.
Rob King: At the time I am writing this, Henderson is hovering around -210 on most sportsbooks. Are you kidding me?Â At some point, you have to start to lose the battle with father time.Â Sure, he is still a good fighter, but not what he once was. His overhand right will always be a threat to anyone, but he telegraphs it so obviously.Â Cavalcante has a good sprawl and should be able to stuff at least some of Henderson's takedowns.Â Look for Cavalcante to land some shots on the feet and stay off his back in at least three of the rounds to take a decision and retain his title.
Lutfi Sariahmed: With Henderson once again fighting at light heavyweight the same questions seem to come up. Is Henderson finally over the hill? Will he be able to handle his bigger opponent? Time and again the answers have been no and yes, respectively. But I think this is a different bout for him. Cavalcante showed in the fight with King Mo that he can defend the takedown with regularity. So if Henderson isn't successful putting Cavalcante on his back, then it becomes a striking battle. I understand Henderson's wrestling is formidable to say the least, but so was Lawal's. Henderson won't go for takedown after takedown hoping it eventually works. He'll try plan B and that's to exchange with Feijao on the feet. Cavalcante has the weapons to deal with Henderson's overhand right: I like Cavalcante by decision.
Strikeforce Womens Welterweight Championship
Marloes Coenen vs. Liz Carmouche
Freddie DeFreitas: Carmouche, in only her second year as a professional, is taking a monumental step up in competition in meeting the crafty Coenen. “Girl-Rilla” earns some serious “cred” for taking the title shot on short notice and will likely push the champion into the later rounds. I expect Coenen to spend the majority of this bout working from her back, but I believe experience will carry the 10-year veteran to a late submission victory.
Guilherme Pinheiro: I think this fight is a little bit too much for Carmouche at this point in time. While I do believe that she has a lot of potential to grow as a mixed martial artist, I think Carmouche is not ready to handle Coenen, especially after taking the fight on short notice. This one ends early with Coenen coming out the victor by way of submission in the very first frame.
Jordan Breen: Carmouche is going to be a great 135-pounder at some point. However, at this point, she's just a largely superior athlete quickly taking out some established mid-level women with her physical gifts. Coenen's striking is more technically proficient, and she's pure class on the ground, even able to hit a nasty flying armbar. Carmouche might make a fight of it early on with her physical strength, but Coenen's superior technique on the floor should earn her a submission as the fight wears on. However, another impressive Coenen win should intensify the build-up to the more compelling bout with Miesha Tate.
Tristen Critchfield: Carmouche has had a promising beginning to her MMA career, winning her first five fights, including four finishes. She'll be swimming in much deeper waters against Coenen, however. In her last two bouts, the Dutch submission specialist has competed against two of the best the women's game has to offer. In-cage experience against the likes of Sarah Kaufman and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos trumps Carmouche's potential here. Coenen by submission in the second round.
Tomasz Marciniak: Coenen handled herself well in the clinch against Kaufman, who is one of the strongest women in that division. I think she can do equally as well in avoiding trouble against Carmouche and will have a significant advantage in striking and BJJ. I think this plays out similar to the Kaufman fight, with the Dutch champ getting a submission victory in the middle rounds.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Tim Kennedy
Breen: Kennedy may position himself as if he's excited to finally have somebody who will stand up and strike with him. However, Kennedy is always much more of an MMA fighter than he lets on, and his top position grappling skills are probably his finest. Manhoef's holes on the ground are obvious, and Kennedy will exploit him with underrated wrestling, put him on the floor, and tap him out. Ranger up.
Pinheiro: As much as he likes to think otherwise, Kennedy was outboxed by Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. Since I believe Kennedy is a bright guy, my guess is that he won’t choose to stand and trade with Manhoef. If he ever questions that idea, he should remember of what Manhoef was doing to Robbie Lawler before he was knocked out. With that in mind, I think Kennedy will choose the safest path and repeatedly take Manhoef down on his way to a victory by late submission or decision.
Marciniak: Anyone with a quasi-proficient ground game should have no trouble in tapping Manhoef and I'm certain Kennedy is equipped to do just that.
Critchfield: The manner in which Kennedy lost to "Jacare" left the former Army Ranger frustrated. In Manhoef, he will have an opponent that will no doubt be willing to keep the fight vertical. Kennedy has shown himself more than competent on the feet, but if things don't go his way there, he always has the option of exploiting the kickboxer's deficiencies on the ground. Having spent some time with master strategist Greg Jackson as part of his camp, it stands to reason that Kennedy will eventually play the percentages and submit Manhoef.
DeFreitas: Picking Manhoef in a fight against anyone with any semblance of a ground game these days should be considered a dangerous proposition. However, I simply can’t resist. Kennedy arguably lost a kickboxing match to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and would be smart to take the fight to ground immediately, but I think he lets his pride gets in the way of victory Saturday night: Manhoef by KO, round one.
Billy Evangelista vs. Jorge Masvidal
Martin: This has all the makings of a tremendous action-packed fight. Both guys push the pace with aggressive striking and almost always have exciting fights. Evangelista has the glossier record but I've been more impressed with Masvidal's skillset and finishing ability over the years. It should be a competitive bout, but I favor Masvidal to pick up a decision victory.
Loiseleur: I like Evangelista to take this fight on points. Of course, Masvidal is a more experienced fighter -- likely in and out of the cage -- is very well-rounded, and has pop in his hands, but I think his tactical shortcomings of late could handicap his otherwise notable MMA abilities. I like Evangelista to stay at range and potshot on the outside, and if Masvidal presses for takedowns, I see Evangelista scrambling back up to the clinch to rack up knees and elbows for a very by-the-numbers decision.
Knapp: Talent favors Masvidal, but he has been notoriously flaky throughout his career. That gives me some pause. Evangelista may be undefeated, but he has not set the world on fire, nor has he faced the competition Masvidal has. I'll take Masvidal by second-round TKO.
Sariahmed: The questions for me lie with Masvidal in this one. Will he be into it? With a Bellator tournament spot all but guaranteed, he slept walked through a warmup bout with Luis Palomino and lost a split decision. It cost him a spot in the tourney. His power is obviously unquestioned, and when he takes on some of the better names in the division he'll win his fair share. But will he get up for the bout with Evangelista? Assuming he does, Evangelista will put him on his back and win a decision.
King: I really like this fight.Â On the feet it's pretty much a wash, so this fight will be decided by the ground game.Â Evangelista has the better wrestling, but you got to give the edge to Masvidal in submissions and if he gets on top, he can pound you out for a stoppage.Â I don't think Evangelista is strong enough to just bully Masvidal to the ground and keep him there for 15 minutes.Â Look for Masvidal to score a late stoppage.
Tomasz Marciniak 34-22
Guilherme Pinheiro 32-24
Tristen Critchfield 32-24
Jordan Breen 32-24
Rob King 31-25
Todd Martin 31-25
Brian Knapp 30-26
Tony Loiseleur 30-26
Lutfi Sariahmed 28-28
Freddie DeFreitas 28-28