Photo courtesy of Strikeforce

The staff weighs in with their thoughts and predictions on the “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman” fight card taking place Saturday night, Aug. 18, at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif., and airing LIVE on Showtime and Showtime Extreme.

Miesha Tate (12-3) vs. Julie Kedzie (16-9)

ODDS: Tate -465 vs. Kedzie +365

DENNY HODGE: With Tate spending so much time on Rousey, I hope she doesn’t overlook Kedzie in this fight. Kedzie will need to stay on the outside and dictate the pace, but will have trouble with the wrestling of Tate. I expect Tate to use her hands just enough to close and put Kedzie on the cage, then on the mat. Tate by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Miesha Tate.

RICHARD MANN: It is refreshing to see some UFC-style match making in the Strikeforce women’s division. Tate and Kedzie were both on the way up before running into losses in their last fights. You can almost hear Mike Goldberg saying, “one will look to get back to the top of the mountain, while the other will go back to the drawing board” or something equally clichéd. With that being said, Tate is the better fighter. Kedzie is very well trained, which gives her an advantage over the likes of Jan Finney and Julia Berezikova. However, Tate is superior wrestler. Even if Tate does not land some blows on the feet she can take it to the ground and win a decision. Expect the former champ to wear her opponent down and finish with a rear-naked choke. Tate by decision.


JAN GAETJENS: Look for Tate to secure the clinch, take Kedzie to the ground, and ride out a comfortable win using her superior top game. Tate by Decision.

JACK BRATCHER: It’s a little strange that Tate and Kedzie have never fought. This bout is between two very respected veterans of women’s MMA. The fact that Tate is already back in the cage after Ronda Rousey mangled her arm back in March is quite impressive. Hopefully she is truly 100% healed. There are few women that can deal with Tate’s wrestling and grappling dominance. Kedzie is going to want to keep this fight standing and try to out-point Tate or knock her out. Neither will happen. Tate wins via unanimous decision.

Ovince Saint Preux (11-5) vs. T.J. Cook (15-4)

ODDS: Saint Preux -675 vs. Cook +475

DENNY HODGE: Despite a loss in his last outing, Saint Preux came out of the cage with a lot of confidence after coming back to take the final round against Mousasi. Cook will look to bang in this one, but needs to be cautious of the counter game of “OSP”. Saint Preux will use his reach early, and mount his offense based off of his kicks as well. Cook will be hurt, hit the mat, and Saint Preux will put the finish on this one. St-Preux by TKO.

BRIAN FURBY: Ovince Saint Preux.

RICHARD MANN: Early on in his career, St. Preux looked like one of those guys who had not put it all together in MMA. However, he was still able to put together wins and climb the ladder in Strikeforce. As he has gained experienced, he has improved as a fighter. He showed that he still has a ways to go against former champion Gegard Mousasi. Against the Cooks of the world, he should have little trouble. Look for St. Preux to get the ball rolling on the feet and then finish with a barrage of punches on the ground. St. Preux by knockout.

DR. RHADI FERGUSON: Ovince Saint Preux.

JAN GAETJENS: I’ve always considered OSP to be one of the better prospects to come through the Strikeforce Challengers pipeline, and I can forgive a loss to an opponent like Gegard Mousasi. Both of these fighters still have a lot of work to do refining their respective games, but at this point in time St. Preux is the more polished and strategically aggressive of the two. Disclaimer: I’m half Haitian. Picking against a fellow Haitian is more or less a fast track to excommunication. OSP by TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: Admittedly I don’t know a lot about T.J. Cook. He made is Strikeforce debut on the Challengers Series last November, losing via submission (guillotine choke) to Trevor Smith. Here’s what I know about Cook. He’s 29, has been fighting pro since 2003 on the regional circuit and has won 9 of his 12 wins via (T)KO.  Here’s what I know about OSP. Strikeforce has been matching him up against knockout artists since day one and not a single one of them have succeeded. The man has a chin like granite and a heart like a lion. After eight straight wins OSP finally suffered a decision loss to former Dream and Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi last December. Look for OSP to come back with a vengeance. Cook has never been KO’d but the Tennessee boy can bang. OSP by first round knockout.

Lumumba Sayers (6-2) vs. Anthony Smith (16-8)

ODDS: Sayers -325 vs. Smith +265

DENNY HODGE: Sayers is a very well rounded fighter, who can win with his boxing or with his submission skills. Smith is a finisher too, but will have his hands full in this one, especially on the ground. Look for Sayers to apply a lot of pressure on the feet until he finds an opening to take the fight to the ground. From there he will lock up a submission and end this one quickly. Sayers by submission.

BRIAN FURBY: Lumumba Sayers.

RICHARD MANN: Sayers should be able to take this fight if only because he has fared better against significant competition. In his last two fights, he showed a little bit of the Frank Shamrock gene with two first-round finishes, one by knockout and one by submission. Even if Smith survives and early onslaught, he normally struggles when he is forced to fight in the later rounds. Sayers by knockout.

DR. RHADI FERGUSON: Lumumba Sayers.

JAN GAETJENS: After seeing him punish Scott Smith as decisively as he did in his last outing, I feel pretty confident in Sayers’ ability to handle a fighter in Anthony who has a tendency to find himself on the losing end of exchanges. Sayers by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: It’s interesting that Lumumba Sayers’ nickname is “heavy hands” but five of his six wins have come via submission. The reason for this usually is because Sayers’ heavy hands usually hurt his opponent and then he jumps on them and finishes them with a submission. Anthony Smith has been a very active fighter since making his pro debut in 2008.  Eight of his wins have come by (T)KO and seven by submission. Sayers is 2-1 in Strikeforce and Smith is 1-1 in the promotion. Sayers has fought the bigger names but Smith has been much more active during his career. Sayers has been submitted but never KO’d, Smith has lost via (T)KO six times, and twice via submission. The fact that Smith has been susceptible to strikes is not good news going up against Sayers. The man does hit hard and we know he’s got a submission game, so I have to go with Sayers here via TKO.

Tarec Saffiedine (12-3) vs. Roger Bowling (11-2)

ODDS: Saffiedine -300 vs. Bowling +240

DENNY HODGE: Bowling is a scrapper, but tends to get sloppy during big exchanges. Saffiedine is more technical and should have success picking his shots against Bowling especially during counters. Saffiedine will mix in takedowns with his varied stand up attack, and that will be enough to keep Bowling off balance and off track. Saffiedine by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Roger Bowling.

RICHARD MANN: Before signing with Strikeforce, it was pretty obvious that Bowling was a big fish in a small pond. It seemed like the higher level of competition would make that pretty clear. Instead, he got sucked into one of the oddest trilogies in MMA history, his three-fight series with Bobby Voelker, and that made it pretty clear. With that being said, Bowling is 3-0 in Strikeforce against guys not named Voelker. Saffiedine joined Team Quest, because he knew he had to add to his striking game. He has surprisingly done pretty well. Saffiedine is not going to be able to withstand the wrestling of a guy like Tyron Woodley, but he should not struggle to stay off his back against the pride of Neville, Ohio. Look for Saffiedine to stay on the outside and take a commanding decision. Saffiedine by decision.

DR. RHADI FERGUSON: Roger Bowling.

JAN GAETJENS:  I like the body of work that Saffiedine has been quietly piecing together since moving to Strikeforce. I’d really like to see him start letting his hands fly a little more freely though, because he definitely has more stopping power than he puts on display. Bowling is equally heavy handed; however, he lacks some of the discipline and accuracy that Saffiedine’s kickboxing pedigree brings to the table. Saffiedine should win the exchanges on the feet, but once again will most likely be unable to close it out before the final bell. Saffiedine by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: This is a fun match-up. Both guys are talented rising stars still looking to make make their mark on the big show. A couple of signature wins could turn either guy into a bonafide star and a lot is on the line here. Both guys have won their last two fights. Both of Bowling’s losses have come via TKO, whereas Saffiedine’s losses have been via decision. Saffiedine is a BJJ black belt and and as a member of Team Quest product he has a solid all-around game but most of his wins have come via submission. Bowling, on the other hand, has scored seven of his 11 wins via (T)KO. Bowling usually starts out like a world-beater but has been known to fade. While Saffiedine may not have the same power in his strikes as Bowling, he is still a technical striker and I think his technicality plus his ground game is going to earn him the decision victory here.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (15-3) vs. Derek Brunson (9-1)

ODDS: Jacare -470 vs. Brunson +370

DENNY HODGE: The ground game of “Jacare” is well documented, and the wrestling of Brunson should provide for some exciting scrambles as both guys look to implement their gameplans when the fight hits the mat. Both guys will mix it up on the feet, but look for Souza to land the better mix of strikes, all while neutralizing the wrestling of Brunson. Souza by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

RICHARD MANN: In a sport where being undefeated can mean the difference between being cut and getting a title shot, you really have to feel for Brunson. With that being said, his last fight with Kendall Grove basically defined him as a fighter. Even though he deserved the decision win and got hosed, it showed his limitations as a fighter. Brunson is a solid wrestler who can get takedowns against solid fighters, but he has very little offense from the top. “Jacare” is easily one of the best grapplers on this generation. He should have very little trouble winning a fight off of his back. If Brunson tries to keep the feet standing, the Brazilian will probably score a win there too. Souza by decision.

DR. RHADI FERGUSON: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

JAN GAETJENS:  I like Brunson’s wrestling, and he may very well be the most dangerous cheerleader in America. But his only real test has been against Kendall Grove earlier in the summer, a fight that he lost. Jacare’s too skilled off his back and too experienced to drop this fight to the still-green Brunson. Souza by submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Losing split decisions to guys like Kendall Grove is not a good sign for Derek Brunson as he goes up against one of the world’s top middleweights in “Jacare”. This is by far Brunson’s biggest fight to date. His wrestling background should help him just enough to make the fight competitive but this fight will still likely end with “Jacare’s” arm around Brunson’s neck. Souza via submission.

Ronda Rousey (5-0) vs. Sarah Kaufman (15-1)

ODDS: Rousey -575 vs. Kaufman +425

DENNY HODGE: Every fight starts on the feet and there is no secret that Kaufman will have to keep it there to have a chance in this bout. Kaufman will have no problem establishing her jab to start, but will have to be cautious about standing in the pocket, or getting caught in the clinch. Her footwork will be key as she tries to land from the outside and circle away from Rousey who will immediately look to clinch and get the fight to the mat. I see Kaufman getting overzealous in looking to finish during a flurry after early success, ending up on the mat in the process. From there it’s a wrap. Rousey by submission.

BRIAN FURBY: Ronda Rousey.

RICHARD MANN: Kaufman is the better striker, but she normally does most of her work in the clinch. That plays right into Rousey’s game. If Kaufman closes the distance and pins Rousey to the cage, the Canadian will almost certainly end up flat on her back. Kaufman’s only chance is stay on the outside and win a striking-based decision. With that being said, the quick rise of Rousey has proved once again that Olympic-level female athletes are simply miles ahead of the women normal competing in MMA. Anyone woman who wrestled or competed in Judo for their country in London is probably already 50 percent better than fighters outside the top ten. Even if Kaufman presents some sort of stylistic test for Rousey, the difference in athletic ability will shine right through. Rousey by submission.


JAN GAETJENS:  Once this fight touches the canvas it’s over. Look for Rousey to use her Olympic caliber Judo to take Kaufman down, finish the fight on the ground, and continue fueling the MMA world’s collective crush on her. Rousey by submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Sarah Kaufman says Ronda Rousey has never faced anyone as well-rounded as her with her level of striking. And while that’s probably true, it won’t make one bit of difference. The fact that Kaufman’s one loss was an armbar submission loss at the hands of Marloes Coenen is a bit ironic. We know that Kaufman trained and trained on armbar defense. It won’t matter. It would take her years of focused defense preparation to even survive against the likes of a Rousey armbar. Kaufman would have to fight a perfect fight to survive, much less win a five round bout with Rousey. Rousey only needs a single moment to end it. Do I even need to say it? Rousey wins via first round armbar.

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