The first ever Strikeforce women’s title fight will headline this Saturday’s event in San Jose and air via Showtime. Main event fighter Gina Carano’s draw has been apparent from the get-go with her beauty, charisma and undefeated pro MMA record. What will bring in additional interest is the fact that her opponent, the beastly Cristiane Santos, will be her toughest test in the cage to date.
To support the feature bout of the evening, there are four other bouts worth keeping an keen eye on and tuning in for. Let’s break it down…
Gina Carano (7-0) vs. Cristiane Santos (7-1): This will hands down be the biggest women’s MMA match in history. Whether it lives up to the hype remains to be seen until the cage door closes, but one can be fairly certain both ladies will lay it all on the line to have the first-ever Strikeforce women’s 145 lbs. title. Carano is primarily a striker but with an ever-improving ground game and excellent clinch work. Gina has been working with UFC legend Randy Couture for this fight and his influence on her game plan will be evident. Opposite Carano, Santos bring the Chute Boxe style of Brazilian brawling into this bout and with this being scheduled for five, five minute rounds, conditioning will play a major factor in who has the upper hand.
Gilbert Melendez (15-2) vs. Mitsuhiro Ishida (18-5-1): Melendez was originally scheduled to fight current champ Josh Thomson for the Strikeforce lightweight title, however Thomson was not cleared due to a healing leg and “El Nino” will now fight Mitsuhiro Ishida. These two have met before with the Japanese striker coming out on top. Melendez is a well-rounded 155 lbs.’er with a strong wrestling base, while Ishida will likely look to keep things standing and find his range. This will be a three, five minute round showdown for Melendez’s interim belt.
Renato Sobral (35-8) vs. Gegard Mousasi (28-2-1): Perhaps the most talent-right fight of the night is Sobral vs. Mousasi. Both are experienced internationally and pose threats in all aspects of the game. The ability for the bout to go anywhere and everywhere on Saturday is exciting and it should be something to remember. Sobral originally won the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt by defeating Bobby Southworth in November of 2008.
Jay Hieron (17-4) vs. Jesse Taylor (13-3): This slot was never originally scheduled to have Jay nor Jesse fighting, but they will now meet with Nick Diaz refusing a drug test and Joe Riggs hospitalized. Formerly a fight for the first ever Strikeforce welterweight championship, it will now be contested as a three, five minute round non-title bout. With both men riding win streaks (Hieron @ 5, Taylor @ 7), the momentum coming into Saturday is solid on both sides. Hieron is very well-rounded and poses threats from everywhere while Taylor like to soften his opponents up and look for the rear naked choke.
Fabricio Werdum (11-4-1) vs. Mike Kyle (12-6-1): As with many fights on this ever-changing card, Werdum was originally slated to square off against Alistair Overeem for the Strikeforce heavyweight title. Being that Overeem re-injured his hand at a nightclub, Werdum was bumped of the card. Eventually, Kyle steps up and the bout was under card status. Finally, we see this bout as the first of the evening on Showtime’s telecast. Werdum is a BJJ specialist who should breeze through journeyman-on-a-comeback Mike Kyle, but will need to show up in shape and be intelligent in taking things to the ground.