Opening Round: Rolling the Dice in Vegas

After the overwhelming demand for tickets to the Strikeforce Challengers events once the series moved to Las Vegas on a permanent basis it was only logical that Zuffa would hold the first Strikeforce show of 2012 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in, where else? Las Vegas!

Okay, so in reality the attendance for Challengers shows dropped off significantly in a town already saturated with fights and full of other distractions to diminish one’s interest in attending anything but the best bouts. And, again sticking with an honest approach, chances are Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine won’t cut the mustard either in terms of attracting paying customers. However, that doesn’t mean the show won’t still be highly entertaining, so even if the MMA snobs in Sin City can’t be bothered to check it out there’s no excuse for fans at home with Showtime.

Below you’ll find some quick for the event’s undercard before I get into evening’s highlighted match-ups. After reading my predictions make sure to check back at MMATraining tomorrow night starting at approximately 8:00 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).

Nah-Shon Burrell def. James Terry via TKO Round 2
Christopher Spang def. Ricky Legere Jr. via Unanimous Decision
Trevor Smith def. Gian Villante via Submission Round 1
Alonzo Martinez def. Estevan Payan via Unanimous Decision
Tarec Saffiedine def. Tyler Stinson via Split Decision

Tyron Woodley vs. Jordan Mein

This is in some ways a “trap” fight for Woodley because Mein doesn’t have a lot of name value but he’s a tremendous competitor in the midst of an impressive winning streak. I think Woodley’s best bet is to take Mein down as quickly and often as possible, hold him there, and decision his way into a title-shot. Standing with the 23-7 Canadian could be a big mistake, as in the kind Jon Fitch made against Johny Hendricks at UFC 141. Still, Woodley is smart and has waited too long for a crack at the belt to let it slip through his fingers so I see him taking the safe albeit boring route.

Winner – Tyron Woodley def. Jordan Mein via Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler vs. Adlan Amagov

I can see this one ending in a flash since both men like to bang. Simply put, I don’t believe Amagov has the power or durability to go toe-to-toe with “Ruthless” Robbie and is going to sleep at some point in the first few minutes of the fight.

Winner – Robbie Lawler def. Adlan Amagov via Knockout Round 1

Muhammed Lawal vs. Lorenz Larkin

A classic grappler vs. striker affair! Larkin’s stand-up is crisp and creative but Lawal is a true student of the game. He won’t be lured into any wild exchanges with Larkin, making sure to get in close to negate Larkin’s kicks and force him to box/defend the takedown. Once “King Mo” gets the fight to the ground he’ll have Larkin at his mercy and with top game like Lawal’s it could be a short night for the up-and-comer.

Winner – Muhammed Lawal def. Lorenz Larkin via TKO Round 2

Luke Rockhold vs. Keith Jardine

As much flak as Strikeforce is catching for giving Jardine a title-shot right away I actually like this match-up a lot for Rockhold’s development. There also weren’t many other options once Tim Kennedy went down with an injury. If Rockhold can beat Jardine he’ll hold a win over a guy most average fans have heard of not to mention an apt adversary with some big wins under his belt. I think Rockhold’s athleticism and speed will be too much for “The Dean of Mean” but I’ll never count someone with Jardine’s experience/abilities out.

Winner – Luke Rockhold def. Keith Jardine via TKO Round 4

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

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