Trevor Prangley vs. Tim Kennedy
The middleweight division in Strikeforce is in a state of flux. Former champion Jake Shields has all but left the organization, and his departure has left a void atop what could be considered the strongest of Strikeforce’s seven divisions. To help stabilize the division, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker announced that Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will fight for the vacant title. According to Coker, Robbie Lawler will oppose Jacare if he can defeat Renato “Babalu” Sobral at Wednesday’s event, which will be in conjunction with the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
It is another bout on Strikeforce’s E3 event that may go a long way in determining a future middleweight contender. In what Coker described as a “a promotion” for both fighters to what the organization considers one of its bigger events to be broadcast on Showtime, UFC veteran Trevor Prangley will battle former Army Green Beret Tim Kennedy.
Kennedy, now an active National Guardsman, has somewhat quietly developed his cagefighting craft since making his MMA debut in 2001. At 30 years old, he has plenty of work left to do, but brings a solid foundation into the cage. Kennedy is a competent striker and a good wrestler who can keep a downed opponent on his back seemingly at will. On its own, Kennedy’s blanketing ground game may be enough to best lower level fighters, but it will not be enough to get the better of Prangley. Fortunately for Kennedy, his ground and pound has improved a great deal in the past two years and is highlighted by Kennedy’s powerful strikes on the ground.
Whether or not Kennedy will be able to utilize his ground and pound against Prangley will be the biggest story of their bout. Prangley, a two-time All-American wrestler, will make Kennedy work very hard to earn a takedown, though Kennedy’s solid wrestling base will likely pose problems for Prangley as well.
In a match where both fighters have capable wrestling bases, the fight will often play out on the feet. It is in that aspect of the fight game where Kennedy and Prangley differ the most. Kennedy, who stands flat footed, has a penchant for beginning fights with head kicks that are not set up well. Though far less effective in his striking that UFC Hall-of-Fame inductee Chuck Liddell, Kennedy’s Liddellian delivery is an unmistakable product of his training at The Pit. Wide hooks and looping overhands are supplemented by Kennedy’s above average power, but his technique provides openings upon which Prangley should be able to capitalize.
Prangley has developed his striking, but as with Kennedy, it is an aspect of Prangley’s arsenal that is not without its faults. Prangley also stands rather flat footed and has a tendency to lunge forward with his punches, which presents a tremendous opportunity for Kennedy to knock Prangley out. Despite the weakness in his technique, Prangley’s lone knockout can be largely discounted as it was the result of a knee strike in the final round of a one-night tournament.
Prangley’s durability while standing should, in no small part, be credited to his Greco-Roman clinch, which he uses liberally. Given Kennedy’s striking style, Prangley should have no shortage of opportunities to move in and put his opponent against the cage.
With more than twice as many career fights (28) than Kennedy (13), Prangley will enjoy a significant experience advantage. However, that experience has come at the cost of age. Prangley may utilize a Greco-Roman clinch as part of a wrestling-based attack, but he is not, at 37, drawing any direct comparisons to Randy Couture. The age disadvantage will only exacerbate any issue Prangley may have in his conditioning, which has never been particularly good.
Given the wrestling ability of each fighter, it seems unlikely that either man will have great success taking the other down, though Kennedy should be able to do more if he can get Prangley to the mat. In a pure striking battle, though each fighter has significant holes in their game, Kennedy should be able to connect with a greater frequency. However, Prangley will almost certainly attempt to neutralize Kennedy’s striking advantage by utilizing the Greco-Roman clinch. Prangley’s ability to do so effectively will go a long way in determining the outcome in the fight. If Prangley can keep stifle the Kennedy’s aggressiveness and keep him pressed against the cage, he will win. On the other hand, if Kennedy can stay on the outside and pick his shots, he may be able to wear Prangley down to the point where he will be able to take Prangley down and utilize his improving ground and pound.
Prangley and Kenendy are evenly matched and theirs is a difficult bout for which to make a prediction. Regardless of the outcome, the winner will take a large step forward in the now wide open Strikeforce Middleweight division.