Opening Round: Pick a Card (Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey Edition)

The MMA world is a day away from watching two of the sport’s finest females face off in the main event of Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey with divisional gold on the line. While “fine” could certainly refer to the physical appearance of bantamweight champion Miesha Tate or unbeaten challenger Ronda Rousey, it also relates to their overall athleticism and ability.

In addition to Tate-Rousey, Showtime will also be treating fans to a number of other interesting match-ups including those on the main card such as Paul Daley-Kazuo Misaki and K.J. Noons-Josh Thomson as well as a few of the prelims destined for Showtime Extreme in the preceding hours.

Below you’ll find some quick picks for the evening’s earlier fights followed by a more detailed breakdown of the evening’s featured fights including, of course, the headlining title tilt.

After reading my predictions make sure to check back at MMATraining tomorrow starting at approximately 7:00 PM EST when preliminary results start rolling in to see if things unfolded as I’ve expected (or as you may have guessed instead depending on where your opinions differ from mine).

Roger Bowling def. Brandon Saling via TKO Round 1
Conor Heun def. Ryan Couture via Unanimous Decision
Pat Healy def. Caros Fodor via Unanimous Decision
Sarah Kaufman def. Alexis Davis via TKO Round 2
Scott Smith def. Lumumba Sayers via Unanimous Decision

K.J. Noons vs. Josh Thomson

As great as the main event should be Noons-Thomson could easily steal the show as long as Thomson shakes off his ring-rust early. A year on the sidelines in no joke, especially when facing a hungry competitor like Noons who has remained active while facing solid opposition along the way. This fight could come down to whether or not Thomson opts to stand instead of utilizing his underrated wrestling, though based on the improved grappling Noons has shown in his past few fights I’m not 100% sure it will matter anyways. Expect fireworks in what should be an excellent opener to the main card.

Winner – K.J. Noons def. Josh Thomson via Split Decision

Paul Daley vs. Kazuo Misaki

It’s nice to see Daley back under the Zuffa banner after heading elsewhere for a few fights. He may not be the most talented or polished fighter on the planet but he’s absolutely one of the top guys where entertainment is concerned. He’s outspoken, loves to strike, and has the kind of power most welterweights dream about (or end up sleeping from). Misaki is coming off back-to-back wins though neither involved a particularly notable opponent. I think it’s safe to say the 35-year old’s best days are behind him and, as far as I’m concerned, this will be his one and only fight for Strikeforce before heading back over to Japan.

Winner – Paul Daley def. Kazuo Misaki via TKO Round 1

Ronaldo Souza vs. Bristol Marunde

Though I respect Marunde for stepping up on late notice to face an opponent the caliber of Souza that’s about as far as my positive things to say about him goes. He’s got an average record assisted largely by a recent run of success and is simply not in the same league as brilliant BJJer Souza.

Winner – Ronaldo Souza def. Bristol Marunde via Submission Round 1

Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey

This is a tough fight to pick. On one hand Tate is clearly the more-experienced, more-rounded fighter. On the other Rousey has been a beast since transitioning to MMA from her decorated career as a judoka. The way I see Tate should attempt to utilize her striking to pick “Rowdy” Ronda apart. While her nickname might be “Takedown” and her specialty wrestling, putting Rousey on her back is a dangerous proposition when considering the Olympian’s propensity for submitting opponents from the bottom. In fact, I could even see Rousey clinching with Tate and then pulling guard for purely that reason.

If Tate can land a few good strikes early I suppose it’s possible she’ll shake Rousey’s confidence but I don’t see that happening. Rousey has been competing since her early teens and dealt with plenty of adversity throughout her life. A bloody or broken nose is not going to phase her – it’s going to fuel her.

Winner – Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate via Submission Round 2

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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