Light heavyweights not getting enough attention
First things first: I’m calling this event Strikeforce: Cincinnati because riffling off the whole Strikeforce: World Heavyweight Grand Prix – Barnett vs. Kharitonov is both (a) far too cumbersome and (b) disrespectful to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Daniel Cormier.
Secondly, this event is getting the full coverage treatment — Under the Radar and all — because it is an absolutely bad ass card. There are a couple other fights on the undercard of this event that could have filled this position; that’s how deep the line-up is in the land of WKRP on Saturday night.
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante vs. Yoel Romero
Rafael Cavalcante (10-3, 3-2 Strikeforce)
Yoel Romero (4-0, 0-0 Strikeforce)
WIN Laszlo Eck (KO, Round 1)
WIN Nikita Petrovs (TKO, Round 1)
WIN Michal Fijalka (TKO, Round 3)
Why I Love This Fight
Last time we saw “Feijao” walking to the cage, he had 12-pounds of gold wrapped around his waist. I know the Strikeforce titles — especially the hot potato light heavyweight title — don’t mean much, but since when do recent former champions get dumped onto the preliminary card?
Prior to losing to Henderson, Cavalcante had put together a tidy three fight winning streak, earning his shot at the title with back-to-back wins over Aaron Rosa and Antwain Britt. He baited Lawal into forsaking his wrestling in favor of a striking match after being dominated in the first two rounds of their bout, and it paid off in spades; he outclassed Lawal on the feet, caught him, and put him away to claim the light heavyweight title.
While he lost the belt last time out — and didn’t really show a great deal in the process — he’s still one of the top 205s in Strikeforce and easily a top 20 guy overall.
Romero looks like a sacrificial lamb on paper having had only four fights against completely unknown European fighters, but here’s the part that doesn’t so up on his record: the 34-year-old Cuban won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Olympics.
There are all kinds of things to like about the emerging Cuban fighter who now fights out of Nuremberg, Germany. For one thing, he has legitimate world-class wrestling, not the kind of “world-class wrestling” often attributed to former Division I competitors; proof can be found in the ridiculous ankle pick he executed on Fijalka last October. Trust me when I tell you to YouTube it.
What steps up the intrigue even more is that Romero hasn’t been using his wrestling to dominate his fights; he’s been working his hands thus far, successfully I might add. Obviously, he’s less polished and technical than “Feijao” with his striking, but the fact that he can mix things up and has shown knockout power are both positives for him.
This has the potential to be a very similar fight to Cavalcante’s fight with Lawal; a wrestler versus striker match-up that could feature more striking than people expect. While that favors “Feijao,” Romero has the kind of credentials and all-around athleticism to make this a much more even bout than a lot of people expect.