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Pro MMA Now “Strikeforce: Miami” staff picks – with special guest Danny Acosta from FIGHT! Magazine

SUNRISE, Fla. - Strikeforce will hold their first show of the new year tomorrow night at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The event will air live on Showtime starting at 10:00 p.m. ET. MMA fans around the world can tune into us here at Pro MMA Now (www.prommanow.com) starting at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night for live play-by-play commentary of the entire event, including the un-televised preliminary bouts.

As always, the ProMMANow.com staff has come together to share their predictions on each of the televised fights (and the Hieron vs. Riggs fight which will be streamed on www.EASports.com). We are honored to have stepping in for “Fast” Eddie Constantine this week, one of his best friends and BJJ protege, Danny Acosta of FIGHT! Magazine. In lieu of Eddie’s passing, we felt in appropriate to ask Danny, who is an accomplished MMA journalist in his own right, to fill in. So we welcome our friend Danny. Check out his work over at FIGHT! Magazine, and without further ado, here are our predictions for “Strikeforce: Miami”.

Jay Hieron (18-4) vs. Joe Riggs (32-10)

BRIAN FURBY: Riggs is stronger, Hieron is more technical. Hieron has better cardio and will be more consistent, but Riggs is explosive. Smart money might bank on Hieron pulling out a decision win or a late stoppage, but I think Riggs will come out on top and use his strength and explosiveness to overpower Hieron. Riggs by TKO in Round 2.

RICHARD MANN: Hieron gets a lot of love for being one of the best welterweights outside of the UFC. That doesn’t exactly make you a top fighter. Joe Riggs has shown flashes of brilliance, but has been unable to shake his personal demons. If this fight were in a vacuum Riggs would be an easy choice. However, less than six months ago he was forced to pull out of a fight due to health problems. Hieron wins this one, but Riggs will make it a lot closer than people think. Hieron by Decision.

DENNY HODGE: Jay Hieron is on a six fight win streak, and has been right on the cusp of getting a title shot. Riggs was not happy about being relegated to the undercard, and both guys will be looking to make a statement to the Strikeforce brass. I see Hieron running away with this one by really dictating the pace en route to a decision victory over “diesel”

JACK BRATCHER: Once again Hieron is relegated to a non-televised fight (remember Affliction). That has to put a king size sour-cream Pringles right on your shoulder. I’m going with Hieron on this one. Both guys are well-rounded with solid skills, However, I think Hieron is a  more consistent fighter and I also feel he really has more of a desire to prove himself in the cage. I feel he’s more hungry and will be more motivated. I could see Hieron finishing Riggs off via TKO if the Diesel’s not well-prepared. If Riggs has his game on, Hieron takes it by decision.

FIGHT! MAGAZINE’S DANNY ACOSTA: Joe Riggs has the power to put Jay Hieron out. With both feeling slighted by fighting in a preliminary bout after two bouts failed to materialize with Cesar Gracie fighters, Jake Shields and Nick Diaz respectively, look for Riggs to connect before Hieron, a more well-rounded striker, finds his rhythm.

Strikeforce Welterweight Championship
Nick Diaz (20-7) vs. Marius Zaromskis (13-3)

BRIAN FURBY: There are big stakes in this title fight as Diaz returns to the welterweight division after a somewhat disappointing run at 185. First, I would like to make my random prediction for the event – Diaz won’t make weight on the first try. He will on the second, but not the first. Regardless of that, he’ll come into the fight looking like his normal self, and spend most of the first round frustrating Zaromskis with his odd stance and perhaps some groundwork. However, Zaromskis will simply be biding his time and wait for the right opening to KO Diaz early in the second. Zaromskis by KO in Round 2. (Second random prediction? And I would almost bet the house on this one – we will see some middle fingers from the Diaz brothers after the fight.)

RICHARD MANN: Zaromskis has been on a streak, but it was not that long ago that he dropped a pair of fights to Che Mills. Yes, that is the same Che Mills who could not win his way onto “The Ultimate Fighter.” Diaz is not going to be knocked out. He might make it interesting by testing the waters on the feet, but ultimately he will take the fight to the ground and win by submission. Diaz by submission.

DENNY HODGE: Everybody that has seen Zaromskis fight, knows that he is an unorthodox striker with a nasty head kick. Diaz however, is on top of his game and will leave Miami with the title after outworking Zaromskis and utilizing his reach before submitting him in the second round once the fight hits the ground.

JACK BRATCHER: This is an intriguing fight. Zaromskis has the advantage on the feet but Diaz will stand and trade with anyone. If it gets too hectic for Diaz on the feet, I could see him pulling guard or getting the fight to the ground where he will have the big advantage. This is hard to predict how it will end, but just for fun let’s say Diaz by armbar.

FIGHT! MAGAZINE’S DANNY ACOSTA: *The Classic Eddie Homer Pick* Nick Diaz’s pace drowns Marius Zaromskis as he gets inside to fight a dirty fight while taking the DREAM Welterweight Champion’s lightning left high kick away from him standing and with his Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Strikeforce Women’s Championship
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (8-1) vs. Marloes Coenen (17-3)

BRIAN FURBY: I would rather step in the cage with Fedor than Cyborg. Fedor would just knock me out and go on with his day. Cyborg would knock me out and then continue beating on me until it woke me back up, only to knock me out again. This is also my prediction of what she is going to do to Coenen. Coenen is a good fighter, but Cyborg’s terminator-esqe approach to fighting will ensure that she stays the champ. Cyborg by TKO in Round 1.

RICHARD MANN: Coenen will have an advantage on the floor. In her last fight, Santos actually pulled mount. However, Santos will be too physical and win this fight by first round stoppage. Santos by TKO.

DENNY HODGE: Coenen is coming off a pretty impressive submission victory over Roxanne Modafferi after dropping her with a right hand. Coenen has 12 subs out of her 17 wins, but getting Cyborg to the ground is a whole different ball game. I have to go with Cyborg by TKO in the first round in this one.

JACK BRATCHER: Holy cow… our boy Acosta picked Coenen! While I respect showing faith in the underdog in spite of overwhelming odds (I often do that), this is one dog I can’t throw a bone. Cyborg by a Schwarzenegger pounding with a Rambo spirit, ending in a frst round overwhelming female testosterone amalgamation of pain.

FIGHT! MAGAZINE’S DANNY ACOSTA: Marloes Coenen’s technical ability in all facets of the game coupled with a good strategy should be enough to disarm Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos over the course of their five-round 135-pound title fight.

Robbie Lawler (16-5) vs. Melvin Manhoef (24-6-1)

BRIAN FURBY: I almost feel bad for Lawler. I’m sure all of his coaches are telling him to take Manhoef down and keep him down, but I’d be willing to bet there’s a voice in the back of his head saying, “Stand up with him, Robbie, your striking is totally as good as his.” However, that voice will quickly be silenced as Lawler succumbs to what I’m guessing will be a 17-punch combo from Manhoef. Manhoef by TKO in Round 1.

RICHARD MANN: Lawler wins most of his fights on the feet. Manhoef is clearly the better striker. The obvious pick would then be Manhoef. At the same time Manhoef has proven multiple times that he is not an MMA fighter. Lawler will avoid being knocked out and take the fight to the ground. Lawler by Decision.

DENNY HODGE: I think the whoever has stretcher duty on fight night better be ready for a dispatch into the cage, because somebody’s getting KTFO’d in this one. Manhoef will come out super aggressive and throwing bombs, but Lawler knows how to throw them back. Lawler by KO Round 1.

JACK BRATCHER: I really don’t see Lawler trying to take this to the ground. However, the cage could come into play with some clinch work and dirty boxing. I could see Lawler using the cage to press on Manhoef. The majority of Manhoef’s bouts have been in a ring, and if Lawler can put together the correct game plan he could pull it out. Hopefully Marc Fiore persuades the H.I.T. Squad brawler to use some brain with the brawn, and if he does, I think he can pull it offf. Lawler by decision.

FIGHT! MAGAZINE’S DANNY ACOSTA: Melvin Manhoef’s blitzkrieg kickboxing catches Robbie Lawler’s heavy-hitting boxing early in typical “Marvelous” Fashion or Lawler shows a little geographic pride and employs some Midwest wrestling to frustrate a fighter that only appears vulnerable in extended bouts on the mat.

Bobby Lashley (4-0) vs. Wes Sims (22-12-1)

BRIAN FURBY: Lashley by destruction. I met Lashley at an XFC event in Knoxville which he was attending as a special guest (and for you Pro MMA Now historians out there – that was actually the first time I met Jack and Denny, so throw Lashley, Jack, Denny, and myself into a room together and you clearly have an event of epic proporations). Lashley was an extremely nice guy, and I got the impression he was taking his career very seriously and approaching the sport with the respect it deserves. Oh, and in case you’ve never seen a picture of him, he’s a huge dude and extremely strong. When we shook hands, I was tempted to tap out. Good for Sims for stepping up to the plate, and good for his manager for negotiating what I’m sure had to be a decent show fee for showing up to take a beating by Bobby Lashley. In spite of the fact that Lashley’s skill set is improving, I have no doubt he’ll stick with what he knows and shoot in, take Sims down and pound on him until the ref stops it. Lashley by TKO in Round 1.

RICHARD MANN: Lashley might not ever be Brock Lesnar, but he really doesn’t need to be in this fight. Wes Sims is a veteran, but he really doesn’t offer any offense. Look for Lashley to score an early takedown and latch on a fight-ending choke. Lashley by Submission.

DENNY HODGE: Lashley is a huge favorite in this one, especially considering the experience that Sims has. That experience won’t help him against the sheer power and speed that Lashley is going to unleash. Lashley by unanimous decision.

JACK BRATCHER: I remember that show well Mr. Furby. In fact, here’s our interview with Lashley from that night. Honestly though, Lashley wasn’t as big as I expected. He wasn’t that tall either and Wes will have a big height and reach advantage. I see Wes using his footwork and boxing to keep Lashley at a distance and pick him apart with a decision win…. Just joking! HA! Hell no. Lashley is going to maul this dude like a grenade in a toilet. Lashley Wins by first round stompage leaving a little Wes Sims oil puddle.

FIGHT! MAGAZINE’S DANNY ACOSTA: Wes Sims experience in the heavyweight division serves him well against most fighters. Bobby Lashley is not one of those fighters. Lashley’s speed and strength on his hulking frame will be too much for Sims as the 6’10 “A Whole Show” blasts double legs and serves up ground and pound once the fight hits the mat.

Herschel Walker (0-0) vs. Greg Nagy (1-1)

BRIAN FURBY: What a weird fight. Kudos to Herschel Walker for starting a fight career at 47 years old (even though how much of a sideshow it will end up being remains to be seen), and kudos to Nagy for taking a fight against a guy he’s probably being brought in to lose against. Like a lot of other people out there, I don’t know what to make of this fight. Factoring in both fighters’ relative inexperience, Walker’s age, etc., etc. etc. I’m not even sure what to say, but Walker will probably win. How? No idea. But I’ll take a guess. I would be willing to bet the longer the fight goes on, the more it favors Nagy. Walker must know this, too, so he’ll be looking to end it early, but probably won’t be able to finish until round 2. Walker by TKO in Round 2.

RICHARD MANN: Any good promotion should be able to line up an easy fight for a media darling. Herschel Walker might be an over-the-hill athlete trying MMA, but Greg Nagy was hand picked to lose. After promoting MMA for several years, Strikeforce should be able to a find a loser when it is necessary. Walker by TKO.

DENNY HODGE: When Herschel played football, there wasn’t another guy in the NFL that was close to him as far as overall conditioning and pound for pound strength. Despite his inexperience, his athleticism will carry him through and earn him his first victory in MMA.

JACK BRATCHER: On Thursday’s MMA Live, Rashad Evans picked Nagy to win this fight. He felt because of Nagy’s cage experience, as little as it is, it would be enough to out-weigh all the physical and mental attributes Walker brings to the table. Has anyone thought maybe Walker is having a mid-life crisis? Who knows what the hell will happen in this fight, or how Walker will react to getting hit? I’m up in the air on this one but I’m going to pick Walker because I’ve still yet to even confirm a real “Greg Nagy” even exists. Walker by decision.

FIGHT! MAGAZINE’S DANNY ACOSTA: 47-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker’s out-of-the-ordinary debut versus Greg Nagy breaks down simply to Walker’s mindset. Having seen him work at American Kickboxing Academy multiple times over the last few months, he has the physical attributes and acceleration needed to muscle through a debut over a relative newcomer. It’s just a matter of how Walker handles the shock of big stage fighting against someone who at least has been locked in a cage. A maniacal athlete, Walker attempts to wear down Nagy and takes a decision.

  • Billy “24/7″ MacDonald

    Interesting picks guys. Give me Hieron, Diaz, Cyborg, Manhoef, and Lashley. As far as the Walker vs Nagy fight, I’m praying that Walker gets through this one that way Strikeforce can call me for Herschel’s second fight.

  • promma

    That would be awesome Billy!!

  • http://Prommanow.com Richard Anderson Mann

    Furby, when has Diaz ever had trouble making 170? His only weight troubles came when he was trying to make Gary Shaw’s Frankenweight of 160.

  • http://Prommanow.com Richard Anderson Mann

    Also, what was disappointing about his run at 185? He went 2-0 with two stoppages.

  • Billy “24/7″ MacDonald

    I agree Jack. I tried getting this one done. I called Crazy Bob, and got some info and sent it to my mgr. I’m prepping for a fight in April, so it would good timing if he wins.

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