Ronda Rousey’s brash approach has clearly gotten under the skin of Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.
The two have engaged in a heated war of words in the weeks leading up to their main event bout at Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey” on Saturday at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Players in the Sherdog MMA Pick’Em fantasy game apparently like Rousey’s confidence, as 71 percent have chosen “Rowdy” to defeat Tate.
A judo bronze medalist in the 2008 Olympic Games, Rousey has transitioned nicely to MMA, submitting each of her first four opponents via armbar in less than a minute. Most recently, she elicited a tapout from Julia Budd in 39 seconds in November.
Tate, meanwhile, brings much more experience to the table than her opponent. A veteran of 14 professional fights, “Takedown” has not tasted defeat since a loss to Sarah Kaufman in 2009. The Team Alpha Male product earned the 135-pound title by defeating Marloes Coenen at Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Henderson.”
Despite a lengthy hiatus due to injury, 68 percent of participants believe Josh Thomson can shake off his ring rust to defeat K.J. Noons in a lightweight affair.
A former Strikeforce 155-pound champion, “The Punk” lost to Tatsuya Kawajiri on a New Year’s Eve K-1 card in 2010. Thomson is the last man to defeat current Strikeforce titlist Gilbert Melendez, although “El Nino” would eventually exact his revenge to become champion in 2009.
One of the sport’s most talented boxers, Noons defeated Billy Evangelista via unanimous decision in December. The 29-year-old owns notable victories over Nick Diaz, Yves Edwards, Jorge Gurgel and Conor Heun.
Other Pick’Em trends for the Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey” main card:
• A large majority (89 percent) of users favor UFC veteran Paul Daley in his welterweight clash with Kazuo Misaki. Daley has earned victories over Jordan Radev and Luigi Fiorvanti while fighting outside of Strikeforce. Misaki has defeated Mike Seal and Akira Shoji in his last two outings;
• Only a few brave souls have sided with the underdog, as 99 percent of players foresee Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza defeating short-notice opponent Bristol Marunde at middleweight;
• A solid 71 percent of participants believe Scott Smith will defeat Lumumba Sayers in another 185-pound tussle. Fourteen of Smith’s 17 career triumphs have come by knockout or technical knockout. Sayers scored a first-round knockout of Antwain Britt in his most recent fight.