Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov LowKick.com Staff PredictionsPosted on September 9, 2011, 10:58 AM by Anton Gurevich
Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov
Top Prediction: Barnett via Submission in Round 3
Trent Reinsmith: On paper the winner of this one will most likely go on to win the tournament, whether that will hold true or not, who knows. Anyway, on to the prediction. Kharitonov is the better striker of the two, but I just don’t see him being able to take the catch wrestler to the ground. Once the fight is on the ground, this one goes to Barnett, so I see this one going the same way the Brett Rogers fight went, Josh Barnett by 2nd Round Submission.
Joey Santosus: With Strikeforce's days likely numbered, there's a lot on the line here for Josh Barnett. Though he is now the most high-profile name remaining in the tournament bracket, when you consider his history with ZUFFA, anything short of winning the Grand Prix could cost "The Warmaster" his spot on the UFC roster. Luckily for him, if he can avoid Kharitonov's heavy-hands and drag this thing to the ground, he will have a marked advantage over the Russian. Josh Barnett via 3rd Rnd Submission.
Anton Gurevich: Josh Barnett is widely considered as a favorite to win this fight, but personally, I feel like Sergei Kharitonov has every necessary screwdriver in his toolbox to unscrew "The Warmaster" from the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP. Russian's striking skills will be a major factor in this encounter, and if Kharitonov successful in maintaining distance from Josh Barnett, I see no reason why he can't win this fight via TKO. My pick is Sergei Kharitonov via TKO in Round 2.
Ryan Ventura: It’s going to be a tough fight between “The Baby-faced assassin” and “The Paratrooper”. Barnett is one of the best grapplers in the division and I’d say Kharitonov is one of the most underrated heavyweights in the world. If Kharitonov can keep his back off the ground, I can see him using his Golden Glory striking to finish off one of MMA’s elite catch wrestlers. Sergei Kharitonov 2nd round TKO.
Antonio Silva vs. Daniel Cormier
Top Prediction: Silva via TKO in Round 2
Trent Reinsmith: Without a doubt, the biggest fight as well as the biggest opportunity of Cormier’s MMA career. The key in this fight is Cormier’s Olympic level wrestling and his training at AKA with Cain Velasquez. Cormier knows what it’s like to fight against an elite heavyweight and he has a great team to get him ready for this fight. Cormier’s wrestling skills should allow him to keep Silva from taking top position, so with that in mind, Daniel Cormier by Decision.
Joey Santosus: Riding the momentum of a three-fight winning-streak, including a victory of Fedor Emelianenko in his latest outing, its tough to pick against the 6-foot-4 "Bigfoot" in this one. But, with that said, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Though the phrase "world-class wrestler" is thrown around much too often in MMA, Cormier is a true example of just that. With his eye on the prize, expect the AKA product to stick to what he does best and frustrate the Brazilian en-route to a decision victory. Daniel Cormier via Decision.
Anton Gurevich: This is an extremely tough fight to call. Cormier really impressed with his striking against Jeff Monson, and proved that he's a well-rounded Mixed Martial Artist. Bigfoot Silva has a huge size factor and explosiveness to his advantage, and an improved ground game that could give Cormier some problems if the fight goes into what is usually his comfort zone. Yet, I feel like experience is somthing where Antonio Silva has another huge advantage over Daniel Cormier. Bigfoot via Decision.
Ryan Ventura: Antonio Silva is riding the wave of momentum after beating Fedor Emlianenko in the first round. Bigfoot packs very heavy hands and a BJJ black belt. Daniel Cormier on the other hand is an Olympian and NCAA Division One wrestler who has adapted to MMA quite well through training at the American Kickboxing Academy. Bigfoot is much more experienced and size wise has an advantage, but I believe Cormier could pull off an upset and grind out a decision victory.
Jacare Souza vs. Luke Rockhold
Top Prediction: Jacare via Submission in Round 2
Trent Reinsmith: It’s been a long time (19 months) since Rockhold has stepped into the cage, so cage rust will be a factor for him. Another factor will be that he has never faced an opponent on the level of Souza. Souza is regarded as one of the top five middleweights in the world and he should have no problem extending his reign as Strikeforce Middleweight Champion in this bout. Jacare’s submission skills will prove to be too much for the overmatched Rockhold. Jacare Souza by 2nd Round Submission.
Joey Santosus: This match-up speaks volumes about the lack of depth in the Strikeforce Middleweight division. It's not that Rockhold isn't a bright prospect, because he is just that, a prospect. Jacare, on the other hand, may be the Champion of an almost non-existent division, but with his ever-improving stand-up and masterful ground work, he's grown into a big fish in a little pond. Expect Rockhold's strength to be his downfall in this one, as his attempts to submit the champ will go terribly wrong. Ronaldo Souza via 2nd Rnd Submission.
Anton Gurevich: Jacare Souza is not widely considered as one of the best 185'ers on the planet for nothing. The Brazilian improved over the years, and I can't see how Luke Rockhold, who's a fantastic fighter, can challenge "The Alligator" at this point. Souza will use his second to none BJJ skills to win this fight, probably sometime in Round 2. My pick is Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza via Submission in Round 2.
Ryan Ventura: Luke Rockhold is one of the best up and coming middleweights in MMA, but he’ll have his hands full against Ronaldo Souza. The man known as “Jacare” is considered P4P one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players in not only the world of MMA but pure submission grappling as well. Rockhold is a respected grappler, but if it goes to the ground Jacare will have no problem scoring a submission victory. Jacare 2nd round submission.
Muhammed Lawal vs Roger Gracie
Top Prediction: Roger Gracie via Submission in Round 2
Trent Reinsmith: Gracie needs to take this fight to the ground if he has any chance of winning, the problem with that is that he will be facing a former NCAA wrestling champ. Another problem for Gracie is that Lawal is a big step up in competition. True, Lawal has been out of the cage for some time, but I just don’t see Gracie being able to take this one to the ground. Lawal will keep this one standing, using his superior striking to earn the win. King Mo by 2nd Round TKO.
Joey Santosus: This fight is far more interesting than it may seem at first glance. While "King Mo" is a solid wrestler with decent enough submission defense, Gracie is - Well, a Gracie. The intriguing part, though, is how, or where, this fight will play out. For Gracie to implement his exceptional BJJ game, he must find a way to drag the wrestler to the ground. And if Mo is to utilize his wrestling, he'll be forced to close the distance and put himself at risk of being submitted. In the end, however, I like Lawal's heavy-hands and grinding style to give him the edge on the judges' scorecards. Muhammed Lawal via Decision.
Anton Gurevich: Being a well-rounded Mixed Martial Artist is a very important part of my predictions so far, and it's the same thing in this match-up between King-Mo and Roger Gracie. Lawal is great on his feet, and of course is one of the best wrestlers currently competing in Mixed Martial Arts, while Roger Gracie is a magician on the ground - but still has two or three years before he's ready to challenge the 205 elite. I'll take King Mo via TK-Mo in Round 3.
Ryan Ventura: Roger Gracie is another one of MMA and submission grappling’s best. He’s a threat to anyone who goes to the ground with him, but we have yet to see him tested on the feet. King Mo might have the skills to keep this battle standing with his world class wrestling background, but if he’s on his back or in the guard of Gracie he’ll be in big trouble. Something tells me though that “The King” won’t let this fight go to the ground. King Mo 2nd round TKO.
Maximo Blanco vs. Pat Healy
Top Prediction: Healy via Decision
Trent Reinsmith: Healy comes to this fight as a late replacement for Josh Thomson, add to that the fact that he just fought for three rounds on August 12, earning a unanimous decision over Eric Wisely and it seems like the cards may be stacked against him when he faces Blanco. Blanco, riding a six-fight winning streak makes his Strikeforce debut in this fight. Blanco is mostly known as a striker, but he also has a wrestling background that could negate Healy’s strong suit. Blanco by 1st Round TKO.
Joey Santosus: Initially scheduled to face Josh Thompson, Maximo Blanco will instead make his U.S. debut against Pat Healy, who took the fight on short notice when Thompson was forced out with an injury. Though Blanco has made his bones fighting in Japan up until this point, his wrestling appears strong enough to prevent him from going the way of so many other competitors looking to transition Stateside from overseas. This base, coupled with Maxi's uber-aggressive stand-up, will likely equate to a short night for Healy. Maximo Blanco via 1st Rnd KO.
Anton Gurevich: Maxi Blanco is one of the future 155 stars, but this time he has to prove himself against a very experienced and tough-as-nails fighter in Pat Healy. This will be a tough battle, but I think that Blanco's "young blood" will help him to get that "W". My prediction for this fight is Maximo Blanco via TKO in Round 3.
Ryan Ventura: I’d like to take a bit of credit for helping Maxi get his first fight on American soil back when I interviewed him back in March (if you want to read click here). Maxi is very fast, good striker, and has a well-respected wrestling background. The veteran Pat Healy is no slouch himself and will provide Maxi with a very good challenge in his Strikeforce debut. However, I believe Blanco will have a lot more to prove in this bout and fans in North America will be talking about that Venezuelan kid from Japan. Maximo Blanco 1st round TKO.