By Kyle Tellier
Strikeforce 41 will commence at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon this Saturday night. As always the event will air live on Showtime. While the Zuffa buyout has had a lot of negative effects on the Strikeforce product, one benefit has been the depth of each card. Taking a look at the card, it is easy to get excited.
Jordan Mein vs. Tyler Stinson
Mein had a six fight win streak snapped in his last outing against title challenger Tyron Woodley. Prior to that he had defeated Cyborg Santos, Marius Zaromskis, Josh Burkman, and Joe Riggs within that six fight stretch. Unsuccessful against the elite wrestler, Mein will now face another talented striker in Tyler Stinson. Stinson, a Bellator veteran, was also on a win streak before his last outing. In his last bout he fell to the hands of Tarec Saffiedine, in an exciting fight. The match-up between Mein and Stinson promises to be an exciting affair.
Ryan Couture vs. Joe Duarte
In his last bout Couture took a step up in competition; he answered several questions plaguing him with a TKO win. He is now set to take another (a bigger) step up in competition with his upcoming fight against Joe Duarte. Duarte has proven himself (in his twelve fights) too be a tough test for nearly anyone at 155 lbs. Duarte is on a five fight win streak, and seems to improve with every contest. He will certainly be a huge challenge for the son of the legend.
Jason High vs. Nate Moore
Jason High will look to add a seventh win to his current streak when he squares off against AKA product Nate Moore. Jason High has yet to lose in Strikeforce, and is looking to make himself heard in the shaping welterweight division. Moore plans to do the same thing. In his last fight he bested MFC welterweight champion Nathan Coy, and looks to do the same against another wrestler in Jason High.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Justin Wilcox
Both Masvidal and Wilcox suffered setbacks in their last bout, losing to Champion Gilbert Melendez and top prospect Caros Fodor respectively. Both men had a lot of hype at one point, and are bent on regaining that. With the Lightweight division nearly wide open the winner of this fight will place themselves close to a title fight.
Pat Healy vs. Mizuto Hirota
Pat Healy has proven himself time and time again, unfortunately he tends to come up just short. In his bout with Hirota, he will be across the cage from the Deep Lightweight Champion, and the fight will carry with it title implications. Should Healy defeat his opponent on Saturday, he will earn a shot against top three lightweight and current Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. Hirota though will be looking to make a name for himself in North America. Healy would provide a huge addition to his list of wins.
Keith Jardine vs. Roger Gracie
The Veteran, Jardine, will meet Roger Gracie in Gracie’s Middeweigth debut. Jardine of course plans to play the spoiler role in this bout. He will look to rebound from his loss to Luke Rockhold with a win over the most promising Gracie in years. Roger though will look to use his tremendous reach and top notch BJJ to move Jardine even closer to retirement.
Robbie Lawler vs. Lorez Larkin
Like Gracie, Larkin will be making his Middleweight debut after suffering his first loss. While technically Larkin has no losses on his record, it was not long ago that he was knocked out by King Mo Lawal. A failed drug test on Lawal’s part though changed the official result to a “No Contest.”
The bout promises to be a striking affair between a technical kick boxer in Larkin and one of the hardest hitting middleweights in “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. While Larkin will be on the rebound, Lawler will look to continue winning after knocking out Adlan Amagov in his last outing. Much like Mein/Stinson on the undercard, this fight all but guarantees fireworks.
Tyron Woodley vs. Nate Marquardt (Welterweight Championship)
Woodley has been one of the two most promising prospects in all of Strikeforce. In May we saw Daniel Cormier cement himself as a top level fighter with a win over Josh Barnett. Tyron Woodley will be looking to do the same. Asking for a title shot for about a year now, Woodley will finally get what he deserves. The elite wrestler will step into the cage opposite the former top three Middleweight, Nate Marquardt.
Marquardt will be making both his promotional and Welterweight debut in this bout, but his record speaks for itself. There are some questions regarding both fighters coming into this fight, but one will answer the questions and the challenge. One of these two men will leave Portland with the welterweight championship and a legitimate claim to top ten ranking.
Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Kennedy (Middleweight Championship)
In his second title defense, Luke Rockhold will meet former title contender Tim Kenendy. Kenendy was unsuccessful in his last attempt at the middleweight gold against Jacare Souza, but has not lost since. Kennedy (an active Army Ranger) has set his crosshairs on the Rockhold’s Middleweight Title, but Rockhold certainly does not plan to give it up without a fight. The well rounded AKA standout will look replicate Jacare’s results in fighting Tim Kenedy. The bout is sure to be an entertaining one, and could answer any questions about either fighter.
Be sure to tune in this Saturday (July 14th) to Showtime for what is sure to be a card of the year candidate. Check your local listings for times, and enjoy the show.