It is time once again for Zuffa’s red-headed stepchild to take charge and create a bit of hexagonal violence for the amusement of that sweet premium cable audience. Strikeforce “Rousey vs. Kaufman” on Saturday is headlined by a titular women’s bantamweight title confrontation between arm-collecting champion Ronda Rousey and well-rounded Canadian Sarah Kaufman, who will attempt to reclaim her throne atop the 135-pound rankings.
Before the ladies throw down on the Showtime-broadcast main draw, a quartet of undercard contests aims to tickle your fancy on Showtime Extreme. Here are five reasons to peep those prelims, live from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: Strikeforce ‘Rousey vs. Kaufman’ Free Fan Pick’Em
Cutting for ‘Cat’s Eye’
Regardless of how Hiroko Yamanaka’s bantamweight debut transpires, it could not possibly go as poorly as her last appearance at featherweight.
The former Smackgirl open weight champion made her foray on American soil as the most recent challenger for then-Strikeforce featherweight queen Cristiane Santos. “Cyborg” made mincemeat out of the 33-year-old Japanese fighter, blitzing Yamanaka with a barrage of blows that ended her night in just 16 seconds. However, the Brazilian would later test positive for an anabolic steroid, resulting in the bout being ruled a no contest by the California State Athletic Commission.
Strikeforce matchmaker Sean Shelby did Yamanaka no favors by casting her opposite Germaine de Randamie for her first bantamweight appearance. While “The Iron Lady” cannot match Santos in the way of sheer power and aggression, she is nevertheless regarded as one of the smoothest and most technical strikers in all of women’s MMA. Can Yamanaka navigate de Randamie’s dangerous muay Thai attack and kick off her bantamweight run with a victory?
Ain’t Easy Beating Green
Look to your left. Now look to your right. It is a good bet that neither of those people could pick Bobby Green out of a lineup, and that is unfortunate.
Just 25 years old, Green already owns 23 professional fights to his credit and enters the cage riding a three-fight winning streak. The former two-division King of the Cage champion made his Strikeforce debut a little more than a year ago, dropping a controversial split decision to Gesias Cavalcante before submitting Charon Spain and James Reese to close out 2011. Most recently, Green pulled out a split decision of his own, topping Strikeforce staple James Terry.
Since a first-round submission loss to Dan Lauzon back in 2009 -- a bout notable for Green’s repeated accidental groin strikes and its inclusion on what would be the second and final show promoted by Affliction Entertainment -- Green has lost just thrice, falling to a much larger David Mitchell and then future UFC talent Tim Means before recently losing the aforementioned split decision to “JZ.” Can Green continue his winning ways and show Shelby he is ready to make a run up the Strikeforce lightweight ladder?
Ricehouse for Real
Standing in Green’s way of continuing his climb will be Matt Ricehouse. The 25-year-old is not a world-beater -- at least not yet -- but it appears the young man could establish himself as a solid lightweight commodity in the coming years.
This is obviously contingent upon Ricehouse continuing to post wins, something he has done exclusively since beginning his career two-and-a-half years ago. The prospect holds only one fourth of the professional experience of his upcoming foe but has yet to taste defeat, rattling off six consecutive victories to date. Ricehouse made his Strikeforce debut in just his second outing and competed thrice more inside the hexagonal cage, outpointing previously unbeaten fighters Ryan Couture and Bill Cooper in 2011.
If Ricehouse can upset Green, it should be a signal to Strikeforce brass and fans alike that the Washingtonian is ready to take the next step in his career.
So I guess Miesha Tate’s elbow is cool now.
If you were not aware, the last time “Takedown” stepped into the cage, she had her arm mangled by arguably the sport’s foremost arm-mangler in Ronda Rousey. The defeat likely proved doubly bitter because it cost Tate her Strikeforce women’s bantamweight title. Now apparently back to 100 percent, Tate will undoubtedly look to reclaim her belt down the road, a possibility that should make fight fans nod approvingly. This women’s 135-pound division might not look like the UFC’s lightweight pool, but there is no question that the lady reigning atop the category will have no shortage of viable contenders gunning for her gold in the future.
However, in order for Tate to earn an opportunity to win back her title, she must take a steady first step against Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts rep Julie Kedzie. A 26-fight vet, Kedzie will try to rebound from the unanimous decision defeat she suffered to Alexis Davis at Strikeforce “Fedor vs. Henderson” in 2011. Will Tate make a statement toward reclaiming the championship, or can Kedzie pull off the upset and add her name to the growing list of fringe title contenders?
Unfamiliar for Amagov
Adlan Amagov may not be used to losing, but that is exactly what he did against Robbie Lawler in January. The real question: how will he respond after suffering the first knockout of his career?
A Chechen-born middleweight now residing in New Jersey, Amagov holds some serious potential at 27 years old, as evidenced by his first-round knockout of Anthony Smith in November. Unfortunately for the Red Fury Fight Team rep, a mental error led to his recent knockout defeat. After taking Lawler to the mat, he managed to secure the American’s back briefly before controlling him with a front headlock. It was there that he launched an illegal knee that grazed Lawler’s skull, costing him a point and, more importantly, causing referee Steve Mazzagatti to restart the fighters standing. Lawler’s flying knee would come not long after, and Amagov’s unconsciousness soon followed.
Can Amagov put only the second loss of his career behind him and avoid similar mental errors against Keith Berry or will the “KO Kid” live up to his namesake and right his ship after losing four of his last five?