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ProMMA.info’s “Strikeforce: Evolution” staff picks

“Strikeforce: Evolution” takes place tonight, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The main televised portion of this card is stacked with stars. It is a card that any true MMA fan should be thrilled with.

It was even better until Robbie Lawler got pulled off, but even still, it is more than solid. I wish it were five fights on the Showtime card instead of just four but, whaddaya gonna do? At least it’s free, right?

Well, the ProMMA.info staff put our heads together once again to give our picks on who we think will win and why. We’re starting to develop some rivalries here, and from what I hear 2010 is gonna get downright competitive.

The one known as Richard Mann has called out Cageside Beat host Brian Furby and said, “Furby is going down this time.” As for Furby, he has remained quiet so far, and has preferred to let his intricate knowledge of the sport do his talking up to this point. He went a perfect 5-0 at UFC 107, and will be looking for a repeat performance. The Info co-host “Fast Eddie” has been sidelined for awhile but will be looking to bounce back with some correct picks of his own this time. Without further ado, let’s get it on fellers!

Josh Thomson vs. Gilbert Melendez

DUSTY ADAMS: I think he will come in with a better game plan this time. Josh outwrestled him last time and I think Melendez will change things up and catch Josh. Melnedez TKO 3rd rd.

BRIAN FURBY: I think Thomson will end up walking away with the “W” in the rematch. Melendez is tough, for sure, and both guys are hard to finish, so I see this one going similar to the first bout with Thomson winning by decision, but because I think Melendez will put on a better performance than he did in the last fight, I think it will actually be a split decision. (I love calling split decisions in spite of the fact they so rarely happen in upper-level MMA.) Josh Thomson via split decision.

DENNY HODGE: This one has been a long time coming with Thomson coming back for his first fight of 2009 against El Nino. That being said, this one will go to the ground, stay there for most of the fight, with Melendez walking away as the winner this time around via grinding out a decision.

EDDIE CONSTANTINE: I love Gilbert but I think based on the styles of these two guys, Thomson should be able to control Gilbert and take a decision. The key is how Gilbert reacts if josh is able to frustrate him and his takedowns.

RICHARD MANN: I still don’t think this fight is going to happen. Josh Thomson is going to pull a Kevin Randleman and pull out last minute. If the fight does happen Thomson is going to have the advantage. In their first fight no one had Thomson winning, but he was able to keep the distance and win with strikes. Melendez has improved, but he still can’t take Thomson down or strike with him. Thomson by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: It’s hard for me to imagine Thomson could be 100% for this fight. The ring rust plus dealing with the leg injuries I think could make him timid. Melendez has been fighting while Thomson has been out for over a year. Melendez has been looking better and better too, knocking out both his last opponents. I’m going to say Melendez via second round TKO.

Matt Lindland vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

DUSTY ADAMS: I do not like Lindland and hope he gets beat every time, but his wrestling skills can’t be denied and I think that’s where he will be able to control Souza even though Souza’s submissions are top notch. Lindland by unanimous decision.

BRIAN FURBY: I see Souza finishing this one inside the first, or perhaps early in the second. Lindland is an experienced, tough fighter, but he won’t be able to contend with Jacare’s speed. There’s a slight issue with both fighters having a bit of a layoff since their last fights – Lindland hasn’t fought since January, and Jacare since May, but I think that will take its toll on Lindland more than Jacare. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza by TKO in Round 1.

DENNY HODGE: I hope this one is not going to be as boring as I think it will be. Jacare’s stand up is suspect and Lindland is coming off a brutal KO loss to Belfort, but won’t have to worry in the least about getting caught by Souza on the feet. That being said, everybody knows Jacare’s resume on the ground, but Lindland’s vast experience will keep him out of trouble en route to a decision victory win over “Jacare.”

EDDIE CONSTANTINE: Souyza by TKO in round one. Lindland has always faired well against BJJ guys, but Jacare should be able to catch him on that glass jaw.

RICHARD MANN: Please do not email me to say “ADCC is not MMA.” I know this, but anyone who has seen Jacare dismantle Lindland in the grappling world would have a hard time picking “The Law.” Also, Lindland’s career appears to be waning. Recently, even his win was uninspiring. Souza by submission.

JACK BRATCHER: This is a damn interesting fight. Lindland is getting older and he’s been taking some punishment, especially in his last fight. I don’t see Jacare submitting Lindland, and I don’t see him knocking him out either. Lindland should be able to control Jacare and get the decision victory.

Cung Le vs. Scott Smith

DUSTY ADAMS: Smith always fights a stand up fight and there’s not many better in the stand up game than Cung Le. I think Le will use his kicks to keep Smith at bay and then KO him. Le should be wary of Smith’s power and the fact he’s never out of a fight.

BRIAN FURBY: As long as Cung Le is allowed to kick in a fight, I’d never bet against him, ergo, I won’t be betting against him now. I remember watching Cung Le in san shou competitions thinking to myself, “Man, it would be cool to see this guy in MMA,” and when he announced the transition, I, I like many, wondered if he could effectively use his devastating kicks in MMA as effectively as he had elsewhere. I think he has silenced nearly all of his critics, having a better kicking percentage than some fighters’ punching percentages. Smith has great hands, and definitely has KO power, but he has to get inside Cung Le’s reach to use it and I dont think he’ll be able to do that. I’ll think he’ll put up a decent fight in the first, but ultimately succumb to the relentless kicks from Le. Cung Le by TKO in Round 2.

DENNY HODGE: Who doesn’t love Scott Smith? He always puts on a great show and leaves it all in the cage. Unfortunately for him, he has tendencies to wilt under body attacks to the midsection, and that is where Cung Le, ring rust or not, is going to exploit him. Cung by TKO in Round 3.

EDDIE CONSTANTINE: I am going to out on a limb and say Smith. Cung has never had a strong chin and Smith is more than willing to take a couple of shots to find the range and connect. Once that happens, Le will fold.

RICHARD MANN: I don’t buy Cung Le’s full time return to MMA. In my opinion he is simply trying to stoke his flames of popularity so he can land another B-movie role. With that being said he is in line for a win here. If we learned anything from BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez, it is that quality striking is hard pick up and it is a determining factor. Scott Smith has some KOs, but Le’s striking is on another level. Le by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: Cung Le is the much more technical striker, compared to Smith’s brawling style. I don’t see Smith being able to hang with Cung anywhere. Of course he has a puncher’s chance to knockout Cung, but I don’t see it happening. There are strikers who can beat Cung but Smith isn’t it. Cung looked great at the open workout. Cung Le via pick-him-apart-with-kicks-and-punches-first-or-second-round-TKO.

Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Mike Whitehead

DUSTY ADAMS: Whitehead is a solid veteran but King Mo is a much better athlete and wrestler. Plus I like Mo’s explosiveness. Good fight for King Mo though to test where he’s at. King Mo by TKO 2nd rd.

BRIAN FURBY: Some of you may be surprised to know that Whitehead has a serious experience advantage. Maybe some of you knew this, but I was surprised to see that King Mo only has 5 fights. All five were wins, but only five fights. That’s less fights than Whitehead has losses, of which there are 6. However, Whitehead also boasts 24 professional wins, including his most recent decision win over Kevin Randleman where I didn’t think he would make it out of the first round. However, all that experience isn’t going to make King Mo’s multiple punches hurt any less. Unless Whitehead is somehow able to take Mo down and submit him – and Mo’s handspeed should make that too difficult – I think it’s going to be over quick for Whitehead. Muhammed Lawal by KO in Round 1.

DENNY HODGE: I say “King”, you say.. oh never mind. King Mo is coming, but has a pretty good test in the veteran Mike Whitehead who has quietly won 15 of 16 fights. Whitehead is coming off a decision victory over Kevin Randleman, but Mo is no present day Kevin Randleman. King Mo by GNP in Round 2.

EDDIE CONSTANTINE: Lawal should be able to take a shutout decision in this heavyweight battle. Good coming out fight for King Mo in the US. I do no like the fact that it is at heavyweight but King Mo is just a step ahead of Whitehead in every category.

RICHARD MANN: King Mo mania will continue. The word is out on Mike Whitehead. He is a diligent worker and a great training partner, but he can’t hang with top level fighters. On top of that Whitehead’s offense is based in wrestling. Lawal has shown that even against the best wrestlers in the world he is a brilliant defensive wrestler. Look for one of the top prospects in the sport to pick up another impressive victory. Lawal by TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: Although Whitehead is out-weighing Mo by at least 40 pounds going into this fight, it will mean very little. All it means is he’s going to be a lot slower than Mo. Mo is a student of fighting, a student of styles, he reads fighters, and might even know Whitehead better than Whitehead. Mo said his rhythm is llike smooth jazz or hip hop and Whitehead is like grunge rock. Hell Mo might even submit Whitehead for fun. Personally, I would like to see some of Mo’s wrestling put to work here, but then again, that wouldn’t be very hip hop – King Mo via first round TKO.

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