Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov Preview & Predictions

Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza

Breaking down Saturday’s event from top to bottom

If the last major Strikeforce show was a step in the right direction, tomorrow’s event in Cincinnati as another giant leap forward in terms of the depth of talent filling out the fight card.

Of the ten fights schedule to hit the cage at the U.S. Bank Arena, nine of them feature recognizable names in fights that matter. The main card is a quality line-up that is superior to the pay-per-view offering from UFC 133 and matches up well with the upcoming event in Denver.

The future of Strikeforce remains undecided. Until things get sorted out, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy events like this. Feel free to do the same.

Dominique Steele (3-1) vs. Chris Mierzwiak (3-0)

See in the opening where I said nine of the ten fights feature recognizable names? This is the Sesame Street fight; the one that isn’t like the others and just doesn’t belong.

This is two Ohio heavyweights without a recognizable win between them getting the chance to step into the cage on the big stage in front of their friends and family.

Good luck, congratulations, have fun, and stay safe; we’re moving on.

Alexis Davis (10-4) vs. Amanda Nunes (6-1)

Fresh off her unanimous decision win over Julie Kedzie at the end of July, Davis returns to welcome Nunes to the 135 pound ranks.

A native of Port Colborne, Ontario, Davis has twice as much experience as Nunes and needs to rely on that and her conditioning to drag this fight into deep water. Nunes is an extremely powerful fighter who has finished her last six opponents, including a 14-second knockout of Julia Budd back in January.

She’s been out of action since and is cutting to 135 for the first time, so there is no telling how ring rust and the weight cut will impact her, but you can be sure she’ll be looking to get in and out quickly so that she doesn’t even have to really worry about her conditioning.

With the lack of depth in the bantamweight ranks, the winner could be considered for a future title shot.

Mike Kyle (18-8-1) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (8-0)

A ‘tweener who has been willing to fill in on short notice throughout his career, Kyle has now committed himself to the light heavyweight ranks, and looks to extend his five-fight winning streak as a 205 pounder.

Over the last three years, the only losses the American Kickboxing Academy veteran has suffered have come to top-ranked heavyweights Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum.

De Lima makes his Strikeforce debut on off a victory over former WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho. That doesn’t mean the same today as it would have a couple years ago, as Filho has been an enigma over the last few years. That being said, de Lima stopped each of his seven opponents before Filho due to strikes, and teaming him with the heavy-handed Kyle could deliver an explosive contest in the middle of the preliminary card.

Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos (18-14) vs. Jordan Mein (22-7)

Two things jump out at me in this welterweight pairing:

1. Mein gets a dangerous welcome to the Strikeforce cage
2. Guaranteed fireworks.

“Cyborg” is a fierce striker who has shown increased discipline since moving to welterweight. The 21-year-old Canadian has made a name for himself over the last year by beating a collection of former UFC and Strikeforce alums, most recently going toe-to-toe with Marius Zaromskis for three rounds.

This one could turn into a battle to see who can withstand more punishment, as neither “Cyborg” or Mein have been known to back down from a good old fashioned brawl.

Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (10-3) vs. Yoel Romero (4-0)

This light heavyweight bout is a surprisingly good fight to be featured on the preliminary portion of the card.

“Feijao” is returning for the first time since losing the 205 pound title to Dan Henderson back in March. He had rattled off three straight wins prior to that, displaying his muay thai skills and finishing power.

Though he’s had just four fights, Romero is a live underdog here. The Cuban fighter won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Olympics and has made a seamless transition to MMA to this point.

Cavalcante struggled with Mo Lawal and his takedowns when they met before drawing Lawal into a striking battle that turned the tides. While he’s yet to face a challenger remotely as talented as Cavalcante, it’s encouraging to see him winning fights in the stand-up, and not relying solely on his wrestling.

Chalk this up as another potentially explosive encounter on a great undercard in Cincinnati.


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