Opening Round: Strikeforce’s Semi-Fantastic Four

Though you wouldn’t know it from the standard lack of promotional push there’s a Strikeforce show this weekend and a fairly solid one at that. Sure, Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine isn’t the sexiest lineup on paper but it still possesses personality and is absolutely worth spending a Saturday night with.

One of the event’s most appealing aspects relates to a common theme in the way the main card is structured. Each fight features a relatively well-known Mixed Martial Artist in action against an up-and-coming talent looking to make his name in the sport. Better yet, the bouts all have the potential to be competitive clashes, as the less established individuals are all in the midst of impressive winning streaks. Both sides stand to benefit immensely from exiting victorious but for very different, equally relevant, reasons.

Were that not enough to whet fans’ appetites, the quartet of caged collisions all have significant impact on the race towards filling one of Strikeforce’s championship vacancies. The organization currently needs to crown a welterweight and light heavyweight king and without question the triumphant twosome in the evening’s related rumbles will be a win away from carrying a Strikeforce strap.

Here’s a quick breakdown of why each bout should be mandatory viewing for any MMA enthusiast:

Tyron Woodley vs. Jordan Mein

Woodley is one of the “UFC caliber” athletes on Strikeforce’s roster with a 9-0 record and recent wins over Tarec Saffiedine and Paul Daley. He’s a clear favorite but Mein can’t be discounted, holding a 23-7 record with twenty stoppages, six straight victories, and recent wins over respected adversaries like Josh Burkman, Marius Zaromskis, and most recently Evangelista Santos. Whoever wins this fight will absolutely fight for a belt in 2012.

Mo Lawal vs. Lorenz Larkin

Lawal is a former champ and also a fighter who has designs on the Octagon but Larkin is no pushover. Unbeaten at 12-0, Larkin has been a human highlight reel in his previous appearances, having a dangerous Muay Thai arsenal supported by a striking style straight out of a kung fu flick. Truly a great grappler vs. striker affair and, like with Mein-Woodley, one determining a top contender.

Robbie Lawler vs. Adlan Amagov

Lawler was once considered one of the 185-pound division’s deadliest foes but has lost two in a row and is real need of a victory. While the lesser enlightened person may think Amagov is a pushover based on his non-existent public profile, the 27-year old is actually a solid prospect with a 9-0-1 record in his last ten tussles. It’s a “must win” for “Ruthless” Robbie and a career-making win for Amagov if he can come away unscathed.

Keith Jardine vs. Luke Rockhold ©

It’s easy to discount Jardine but let’s not forget this is a man who beat Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. If Rockhold retains his title it will say a lot about how far he’s come in such a short time and further establish him as one of the premier talents outside of the UFC. If Jardine comes away with the belt in his middleweight debut it will show he still has some gas left in the tank. Both have a steep hill to climb where winning is concerned and the result will have a ripple effect on 185 as a whole. This is a much better fight than people are giving it credit for.

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

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