Strikeforce Weigh-ins: 3 Title Fights Greenlit

By Brian Knapp Apr 17, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Under an all but cloudless sky in The Music City, three champions and the men who would dethrone them passed their final pre-fight test.

Middleweights Jake Shields (184.75) and Dan Henderson (185), lightweights Gilbert Melendez (154.5) and Shinya Aoki (154.5) and light heavyweights Gegard Mousasi (204.5) and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (204.25) met their mandated weight requirements for Strikeforce “Nashville” this Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena. Jason “Mayhem” Miller (185) and Tim Stout (186) also made weight without incident at Friday’s official weigh-in for the event, which will air live on CBS at 9 p.m. ET.

Shields will defend his crown against Henderson in the headliner and will enter the cage as an underdog against the two-time Olympian.

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie, Shields will carry a 13-fight winning streak into the match. The 31-year-old Californian last fought in November, when he outdueled the charismatic Miller en route to a unanimous decision. One of the sport’s most feared grapplers, Shields has delivered 10 of his 24 career victories by submission. Wins over the world-ranked Yushin Okami, former World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight champion Carlos Condit and current UFC welterweight title contender Paul Daley anchor his resume.

Few in MMA have accomplished more than Henderson. Still the only man to hold major titles in two weight divisions simultaneously, he will enter his Strikeforce debut on a string of three consecutive wins. The 39-year-old has not competed since he knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Michael Bisping at UFC 100 in July. Henderson owns other notable victories against one-time UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin, Brazilian icon Wanderlei Silva, former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort.

Meanwhile, Melendez will put his lightweight strap on the line against Aoki, the reigning Dream champion and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.

The 28-year-old Melendez has not competed since he ousted Josh Thomson in a memorable five-round encounter in December. The Pride Fighting Championships and WEC veteran will ride a three-fight winning streak into his highly anticipated showdown with Aoki. Melendez, who has never been finished in 19 professional appearances, counts victories over 2009 Dream featherweight grand prix finalist Hiroyuki Takaya, Mitsuhiro Ishida and Clay Guida among his 17 career victories.

Aoki has posted six wins in seven fights and last appeared on New Year’s Eve, when his brutal hammerlock broke the arm of Mizuto Hirota under the K-1 banner. Widely regarded as one of the sport’s top two lightweights, the mercurial 26-year-old has secured more than half (14) of his 23 wins by submission. Based at the Paraestra Tokyo camp, Aoki holds victories over reigning Bellator Fighting Championships titleholder Eddie Alvarez, American Top Team ace Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante and Norwegian standout Joachim Hansen.

The third and final title bout on the Strikeforce “Nashville” lineup will pit Mousasi and his light heavyweight championship against Lawal.

One of the game’s brightest young stars, Mousasi has rattled off 15 wins in a row. The well-rounded and gifted Armenian has not competed since New Year’s Eve, when he barely broke a sweat in a 94-second rout of journeyman Gary Goodridge. Still only 24, Mousasi has proven a potent finisher, with 26 of his 28 victories coming by knockout, technical knockout or submission.

He figures to have his hands full with the unbeaten Lawal, one of the sport’s best showmen. Perfect in six professional bouts, the 29-year-old Murfreesboro, Tenn., native laid waste to UFC veteran Mike Whitehead in his promotional debut four months ago. Lawal was a collegiate All-American and conference champion at Oklahoma State University.

Strikeforce “Nashville” Saturday, April 17 Bridgestone Arena Nashville, Tenn.

Strikeforce Middleweight Championship

Jake Shields (184.75) vs. Dan Henderson (185)

Strikeforce Lightweight Championship
Gilbert Melendez (154.5) vs. Shinya Aoki (154.5)

Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship
Gegard Mousasi (204.5) vs. Muhammed Lawal (204.25)

Jason “Mayhem” Miller (185) vs. Tim Stout (186)
Zach Underwood (179.5) vs. Hunter Worsham (180.5)
Josh Schockman (205.25) vs. Cale Yarbrough (203.75)
Dustin Ortiz (125) vs. Justin Pennington (124.25)
Andy Uhrich (171.5*) vs. Dustin West (169.5)
Chris Hawk (205.75) vs. Ovince St. Preux (205.5)
Tom Campbell (145.75) vs. Cody Floyd (142.25)

* Uhrich has two hours to drop a half of a pound.
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