“Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu” takes place Saturday evening at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., and will air LIVE on Showtime starting at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The ProMMAnow.com staff has come together to give our picks on each of the televised fights.
The event is headlined by Dan Henderson vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral, two MMA veterans who first fought each other in Feb. 2000 in the Rings organization in Japan. “Babalu” will be looking to avenge his majority decision loss to Henderson over a decade ago.
Be sure to check out ProMMAnow.com’s exclusive pre-fight coverage from “Henderson vs. Babalu” including photos and video from the weigh-ins. Stay close to the site this weekend as we bring you live coverage from St. Louis.
Dan Henderson (25-8) vs. Renato Sobral (36-8)
Dan Henderson -260, Renato Sobral +200
DENNY HODGE: Dan Henderson is returning to 205 for this bout against “Babalu”, and that will make a huge difference for him. Without the additional weight cut, he will be much more effective in hunting “Babalu” down, and keep that pressure up for a full 3 rounds. “Babalu” will have to be on his game to have a chance in this one, especially considering his bouts with inconsistency in the past. He really will not threaten Henderson no matter where the fight goes, and Henderson will likely set up his take downs with that big right hand. I believe Henderson will stand and load up his right hand, in lieu of just repeatedly taking “Babalu” down. Henderson will land a big shot and finish “Babalu” with some patented ground and pound in the third round.
RICHARD MANN: Despite having seriously overrated takedown defense, Henderson should be able to keep the fight on the feet. Sobral is a much more diverse striker, because Henderson only throws big right hands. However, I think in this fight, the right hands will be enough to make it a short night for “Babalu.” Henderson by TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Dan Henderson.
JOHN BUHL: Tricky fight to call. Babalu isn’t a slouch on the feet, and if he stays patient, he could take advantage of Hendo’s tendency to get a bit overaggressive and start throwing those wild, looping hooks that can knock guys out but also leave Henderson open to counters. But fighting at 205, without the weight cut, and in a three round fight instead of a five round fight, I think Henderson will do enough to at least win the first two rounds and keep Babalu from scoring a late comeback win. Henderson by decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Hendo looks massive at 205. That extra weight and strength behind that right hand could spell a short night for Babalu if he’s not careful. Apparently he had some problems going into that fight with Shields. He should be good to go at 205, no weight issues and I think Strikeforce gets their money’s worth with Henderson on this fight, I’m feeling a big Hendo KO maybe second round.
Robbie Lawler (17-6, 1 NC) vs. Matt Lindland (22-7)
Robbie Lawler -200, Matt Lindland +160
DENNY HODGE: It doesn’t take an MMA genius to figure out that Lawler will want to keep this one standing, while Lindland would like to put Lawler on his back. Lindland is very adept at closing the distance, going to the clinch, and getting bodylock take downs, but Lawler’s athleticism will make this a difficult task. If Lindland can manage to put Lawler on his back, we will see just how good Lawler is off his back, as Lindland has great control from the top. At this point in their careers, Lawler will be quick enough to keep his distance and get off with his stand up, taking Lindland out via TKO midway through the fight.
RICHARD MANN: This one is a true crossroads match up. Both of these middleweights were once top-ten fighters. Lindland wasted his prime taking one-off fights outside of the UFC. However, this was hardly his fault. Lawler does not train properly and simply throws power shots. In this fight, he should be able to land a few and lay out Lindland. He has had trouble taking power in his last few fights. Lawler by TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Robbie Lawler.
JOHN BUHL: Lawler is going to knock Lindland out cold or Lindland is going to frustrate Lawler for 15 minutes with takedowns, elbows, and short punches. I’m still undecided. Eh, what the hell…Lawler by 2nd round TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: Lawler can sometimes have big problems with wrestlers and when Lindland is on his game, he’s a handful for anyone. Although Lawler’s beard is absolutely perfect, I just have a feeling Lindland’s wrestling is going to give Lawler trouble. Lindland by decision.
Paul Daley (25-9-2) vs. Scott Smith (17-7, 1 NC)
Paul Daley -400, Scott Smith +300
DENNY HODGE: Fight of the Night anyone? How much will the weight cut hurt Smith? Only time will tell, but despite any appearances of Smith looking as if he is in trouble, that is exactly when he is the most dangerous. Not to mention, these guys are made for each other. Daley is quick out of the gate and looks to get guys out of there ASAP, while Smith is extremely dangerous in the pocket with his counters during big exchanges. Smith has had his ass handed to him so many times before pulling out that ONE big shot that turns the fight (usually ending it), and that is exactly how this fight might end up. I believe that Daley is going to be too explosive for Smith in this one, and will capitalize by punishing the body, and landing his big left hooks, en route to a TKO finish.
RICHARD MANN: Some fighters need to drop a weight class because they are too small or lack power for their division. Scott Smith did not have either one of these issues at middleweight. In his new weight class, he will have trouble making weight and his shortcomings will still be present. His striking defense allows him to get hit a lot. That is a big problem against Paul Daley who can land with a lot of power. Daley by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Paul Daley.
JOHN BUHL: This is a horrible match-up for Smith. Daley is a fast, technical, vicious striker, and Smith relies too much on his chin and surviving slug fests. Not a good strategy with Daley, especially if he follows the lead of Nick Diaz and Cung Le (in his rematch with Smith) and works the body to take the wind out of Smith’s sails. Daley via second round KO.
JACK BRATCHER: Paul Daley by first or second round KO. His technical striking and power is a disaster waiting to happen for the slugging style of Scott Smith. Smith will probably try to stand and bang it out and he is nearly impossible to put away but if anyone can do it Daley should be able.
Antonio Silva (14-2) vs. Mike Kyle (18-7-1)
Antonio Silva -450, Mike Kyle +325
DENNY HODGE: Kyle has a tough task ahead of him facing the much larger “Bigfoot” Silva on short notice. Silva will use his significant advantage in size to close the distance and put that weight on Kyle against the cage. Kyle is very athletic and will circle out of trouble when he’s pinned up against the cage, but the constant battling in the clinch will take it’s toll on the smaller man. Silva by decision.
RICHARD MANN: This fight actually got better after the injury. With that being said Antonio Silva is still in line for a win. Kyle is big for a light heavyweight, but he is still just that. Silva is big for a heavyweight, so he will have a pretty big size advantage. On top of that, he is a much better grappler than Kyle. Silva by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Antonio Silva.
JOHN BUHL: With a full training camp, this might’ve been an interesting fight with Kyle’s KO power. But Silva’s good technical striking and size advantage will be enough. Because it’s short notice, I’ll go with Silva via third round TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: Kyle is a mean dude. He looks like a killer. And at the weigh-ins today, it was very intense during the stare-down. But Antonio Silva is a legit top-10 heavyweight. It’s interesting to note that both fighters last loss was to Fabricio Werdum. I think this one is going to get nasty. In the end I thing Silva will take the decision.
Benji Radach (21-5, 1 NC) vs. Ovince St. Preux (8-4)
Benji Radach +100, Ovince St. Preux -130
DENNY HODGE: Radach has faced and overcome a list of injuries that would have made most men quit competition. Somehow he always comes back, and when he is on, he is as dangerous on his feet as they come. With 17 of his 21 victories coming by way of (T)KO, St. Preux will have to be cautious with staying in the pocket and slugging it out with Radach. St. Preux is a hot prospect who is fighting his sixth fight of the year, winning all 5 of his appearances in 2010 thus far, and won a hard fought decision over Antwan Britt just 3 weeks ago. St. Preux is a superb athlete, and can win in a variety of ways whether the fight goes to the ground or stays on the feet. Radach will be fighting possible ring rust after a lengthy absence from competition, and a slow start could spell disaster for the slugger. St. Preux by decision.
RICHARD MANN: N/A
BRIAN FURBY: N/A
JOHN BUHL: N/A
JACK BRATCHER: This is a crazy fight for St. Preux who just fought a three round war with Antwain Britt. He beat Britt via decision. He’s also fought eight times since Radach last fought. St. Preux is athletic, fast, and has big power. It’s the up and comer rising star against the seasoned veteran and if St. Preux can get this win it will be the biggest of his career. This is definitely the biggest fight of his life and I think he will rise to the occasion. He does not seem intimidated by anyone or anything. TKO round three for Ovince St. Preux.
*All fight odds provided by BetUS.com