Preview of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine

It’s fight night in Las Vegas as Strikeforce (also known as the UFC’s younger, less attractive cousin) puts on a solid card for Rockhold vs. Jardine tonight. Here’s a comprehensive preview of what to expect when Luke Rockhold takes on Keith Jardine tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

This betting line is courtesy mmafighting.com

Luke Rockhold (-600) vs. Keith Jardine (+400)

An American Kickboxing Academy vs. Jackson MMA matchup (for people new to the sport, these are two of the biggest fight camps in the sport, producing numerous champions each), Rockhold vs. Jardine is an unusual matchup since Keith Jardine has never fought at middleweight in his career and Rockhold is coming off a huge upset over one of the world’s premiere Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Nevertheless, both fighters bring a very unique package to the table.

Luke Rockhold (8-1) has trained in Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Kickboxing, and wrestled in high school, so there isn’t much Jardine can throw at him that he hasn’t seen before despite just nine MMA fights on his resume. He is much younger, slightly taller, and has a small reach advantage over Jardine, plus he proved in the “Jacare” fight that he can go five rounds with an elite opponent. He has a distinct advantage when the fight goes to the ground, as the BJJ Brown Belt holds six wins by submission, including four via rear-naked choke.

As for Keith Jardine, the well-traveled MMA veteran isn’t the same fighter he was when he defeated UFC Hall-of-Famer Chuck Liddell in 2007. At 36 years of age and fighting at the lightest weight of his career, one has to wonder how well he will hold up if the fight goes past the third round. Despite those concerns, “The Dean of Mean” has the tools to finish this fight early with a little bit of luck. He possesses some of the best leg kicks in MMA, which set up his swooping haymakers and unorthodox striking angles very well. He has fought the better opponents (Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Wanderlei Silva, and Rampage Jackson) and is fighting under the bright lights of Las Vegas for the ninth time in his career as opposed to Rockhold’s first visit to “Sin City.”

In my opinion, this fight comes down to Jardine’s conditioning and takedown defense. If he gasses out, it will b a short night for the UFC veteran, but if he can keep the fight standing and bait Rockhold into a kickboxing match, one well-timed combination could end the rising star’s title run prematurely. My bet is that losing 15 pounds in two days will take its toll on Jardine’s body and leave him susceptible to a takedown, back mount, and rear-naked choke victory in either the second or third round for Rockhold.

Prediction: Rockhold via Submission

Here are a short summary of my thoughts on the other five bouts on the main card:

Robbie Lawler vs. Adlan Amagov

The owner of one of MMA’s greatest knockouts (look it up on Youtube, the fight was against Maskhat Akhmetov), Amagov (9-1-1) will use his superior kickboxing to beat on Lawler early and often, who is 2-4 in his last six bouts. Lawler (18-8) hasn’t looked the same since his Elite XC days, but the UFC veteran has an iron chin and should make it to the final bell in a one-sided decision

Prediction: Amagov via Decision

“King Mo” Lawal vs. Lorenz Larkin

King Mo (8-1) holds a special place in my heart as a showman and a fighter who got his start in the DFW area. The elite wrestler has power in both hands and isn’t afraid of turning this into a boxing match. This fight is a big step-up in competition for Lorenz Larkin (12-0), but the talented striker should put up one heck of a fight against Lawal. However, the six inch reach advantage for King Mo will be the deciding factor. Larkin will be reaching for his punches and could easily walk right into a counter that turns out the lights. This has Fight of the Night written all over it, with King Mo hoisting his hands in the end.

Prediction: Lawal via KO

Tyron Woodley vs. Jordan Mein

Takedown. Ground and Pound. Rinse and Repeat.

I hate to be so blunt, but I don’t give Mein (23-7) much of a chance against such a high-level wrestler. He’s only fought outside of Canada once against a downward trending Evangelista Santos. His defensive Jiu-Jitsu should get him out of the first round, but Woodley (9-0) has fought and defeated better competition in three consecutive bouts. The former Univ. of Missouri All-American wrestler should get the TKO win.

Prediction: Woodley via TKO

Tarec Saffiedine vs. Tyler Stinson

Another well-traveled veteran with a chip on his shoulder, Saffiedine (11-3) is looking to put himself into welterweight title contention with a win tonight. The Belgium kickboxer and Shihaishinkai Karate practitioner is in his element with a fellow striker in Stinson (22-7). Expect another stand-up battle in this one with the superior striker Saffiedine possibly pulling off one of MMA’s most exciting finishes: a head-kick KO.

Prediction: Saffiedine via KO

If you made it through this article, congratulations! I’d appreciate any questions, comments, concerns, or compliments if you’d like to leave them at the bottom. Have a great weekend and enjoy the fights!

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