Tumultuous Card Topped with Showdown

Shamrock-Le Showdown

After a week full of last-second changes and the usual pre-fight message board hysteria, EliteXC and Strikeforce will put together another joint event this Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

While the Showtime-televised headliner (9 p.m. ET/PT) is the long-awaited middleweight title clash between Frank Shamrock (Pictures) and Cung Le (Pictures), we'll also get to see the stateside return of the man they call Tequila, MMA's answer to Vinnie Jones and plenty of Gary Shaw-approved action.

So read on and discover how MMA relates to Lara Flynn Boyle's weight, Howard Hughes' brain and the Amish.

No, seriously. All bases are covered, and I even remembered to do that whole prognostication thing this time around.

Frank Shamrock (Pictures) vs. Cung Le (Pictures)

Self-professed MMA legend Frank Shamrock (Pictures) and sanshou disciple Cung Le (Pictures) aren't fighting just to determine who will hold the Strikeforce middleweight title. Also up for grabs is the oh-so-delicious right to serve the loser heaping platefuls of Grade A crow.

Neither man has been particularly shy about ratcheting up the pre-fight smack talk, and on the rare occasions that they've remained silent, their vociferous fan bases have more than picked up the slack.

In Shamrock's case, his fans and self-promotion have been the only things keeping his once great career alive. At one time the sport's pound-for-pound kingpin, Shamrock (24-8-1) helped carry the UFC through its pay-per-view dark age but never caught any of the post-Zuffa windfall thanks to his difficult relationship with Dana White.

Long stretches of inactivity were exacerbated by Shamrock's diva-like behavior and excessive contract demands. Those requirements were ultimately satisfied by Strikeforce because of its need for a name attraction that could reel in the booming California MMA community.

Shamrock has certainly succeeded as one of Strikeforce's local meal tickets, but his in-cage exploits have left something to be desired. An utterly pointless knockout win over MMA neophyte Cesar Gracie (Pictures) set the table for a match with Renzo Gracie (Pictures) that Shamrock lost via disqualification.

To hear Shamrock tell the story, you'd think he was putting on the performance of a lifetime, but Renzo appeared to be on his way to debunking the Shamrock legend.

Regardless, a rematch never materialized and Shamrock instead went on to thrash Phil Baroni (Pictures) thanks to the "New York Bad Ass" once again forgetting the importance of conditioning as it relates to physical activity.

The task of knocking Shamrock from his lofty perch now falls on the shoulders of the lone Strikeforce acquisition who can challenge Shamrock's frenzied fans with equally rabid supporters of his own.

Of course, throwing double roundhouse kicks with regularity will endear you to many a fan, and Cung Le (Pictures) (5-0) has had no issues thus far incorporating his flashy and unorthodox sanshou techniques into MMA.

One of America's finest sanshou competitors, Le has managed the transition to full-blown fighting quite well. He has dispatched a rogue's gallery of MMA veterans, including Sam Morgan (Pictures) and Tony Fryklund (Pictures), with relative ease.

The days of careful matchmaking and star building are at an end, however. Against Shamrock, Le puts his undefeated record on the line against an opponent who not only holds an edge in big-fight experience but also is well equipped to test the effectiveness of Le's unconventional style.

Say what you will about Shamrock -- I certainly have -- but the man is a master strategist who excels at finding the holes in his opponent's style. When there are no holes to be found, Shamrock's willingness to ride out the action and rely on his conditioning to win the day is well documented.

Those are two factors that do not bode well for Le, who has shown in past bouts that his offensive grappling skills are about as strong as Liza Minelli‘s grip on reality. In other words, relying on spin kicks and the odd suplex here and there won't get the job done for five rounds against an opponent as versatile as Shamrock.

Even if Le can keep Shamrock at bay with those crowd-pleasing kicks and throws, we've seen MMA's Mr. Sanshou show signs of suspect conditioning in the past. Particularly against Sam Morgan (Pictures), who made it to the third round despite spending most of the bout flailing about like a subpar interpretive dancer.

The early going could be interesting while Le gets his Jean Claude Van Damme on, but it's a matter of time before Shamrock takes his undersized quarry to the mat and exposes Le's nonexistent grappling ability.

Expect to hear all about Shamrock's win during his post-fight interview, news conference, media tour and subsequent hijacking of every known broadcast spectrum in the world.
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