Sherdog MMA Pick’Em users view Luke Rockhold as a clear favorite. | Photo: Esther Lin
Luke Rockhold scored a major upset by wresting the Strikeforce middleweight championship from Ronaldo Souza in September, and now the vast majority of participants in Sherdog’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game favor him to defend his title against Keith Jardine at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Saturday in Las Vegas.
A whopping 89 percent of players have sided with the American Kickboxing Academy product against Jardine, who is making his 185-pound debut. Rockhold is unbeaten in seven Strikeforce appearances, with his five-round win over “Jacare” being the only time he has been out of the first round since joining the promotion in 2008. Six of his eight career victories have come by way of submission.
Jardine, meanwhile, is coming off a controversial majority draw against Gegard Mousasi in April. Prior to that bout, the longtime UFC veteran had won two straight fights on the regional circuit. “The Dean of Mean” owns notable career wins over Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, Wilson Gouveia and Brandon Vera.
The main event is not the only fight on the card with a big favorite: 88 percent of users favor the heavy-handed Robbie Lawler to end Adlan Amagov’s four-fight winning streak. Lawler has lost three of his last four in Strikeforce, while Amagov is 2-0 in the promotion, having bested Ronald Stallings and Anthony Smith on a pair of Strikeforce Challengers cards. Six of Amagov’s nine career triumphs have come by knockout or technical knockout.
Other Sherdog MMA Pick’Em trends for the Strikeforce “Rockhold vs. Jardine” main card include:
• Ninety-three percent of players believe Muhammed Lawal can use wrestling to impose his will on the dangerous striking of Lorenz Larkin. The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion was victorious in his last outing, knocking out Roger Gracie in the first round of their September meeting. Larkin is unbeaten in 12 career fights, including eight wins by knockout or technical knockout;
• Tyron Woodley is perhaps the most highly regarded welterweight remaining in the promotion, and voting has recognized him as such, as 88 percent of users expect him to top Jordan Mein, who already has 30 professional fights at the age of 21;
• Tarec Saffiedine rounds out the list of heavy main-card favorites, as 93 percent of players like the Belgian to defeat Tyler Stinson. Saffiedine beat Scott Smith in his last fight, while Stinson had an impressive promotional debut, besting Eduardo Pamplona in 15 seconds.