Gegard Mousasi wins in a no-win situation

nullGegard Mousasi faced the most dangerous situation he has faced in his MMA career on Saturday afternoon.

He faced an unknown opponent if his UFC debut and was expected to run right through him.

After preparing for months to face top UFC light heavyweight contender, Alexander Gustafsson, Mousasi would instead be forced to face Ilir Latifi after Gustafsson wasn’t cleared to fight after suffering a cut earlier in the week.

Latifi, a native of Sweden, where the fight was taking place, was making his UFC debut and trains with Gustafsson. So, Latifi had some insight on what to expect of his opponent, while Mousasi knew nothing of the man he was to face.

I give credit to Mousasi for taking the fight on such short notice, because he really had nothing to gain. Everyone expected him to win. A loss would have set his career back a great deal, especially in a crowded light heavyweight division.

Mousasi didn’t look overly impressive in a decision win over Latifi, which was to be expected, but he did escape a dangerous situation with a victory.

The win doesn’t propel the former Strikeforce champion into title contention in the UFC, but it at least gives him some experience and he can now focus on bigger things, perhaps a fight with Gustafsson.

  

Hector Lombard: A top 10 Middleweight?

nullThe highlight of Bellator 44 on Saturday night was a knockout win for middleweight champion, Hector Lombard.

The 33-year-old member of American Top Team knocked out Falaniko Vitale in the third round of their contest, giving Lombard 16 wins by knockout in his career and pushing his record to 29-2-1 overall.

Like Bellator Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez, the question has to be asked; where does Lombard stack up against the best of the middleweights in all of MMA?

Lombard is a big, burly 185-pounder that has also fought at 190 pounds and at light heavyweight (205 pounds) in his career, finding success in each weight class.

Currently, Lombard is riding an 18-fight win streak and his last loss came in 2006 to Strikeforce light heavyweight, Gegard Mousasi.

Lombard holds wins over former UFC contenders Joe Doerksen, Kalib Starnes, and Vitale. Four of his last six bouts have ended with a first round knockout, with two taking place in less than 40 seconds. Lombard has even forced a few opponents to tap to his strikes.

Lombard has had success overseas and in the states for Bellator and other organizations, but he has yet to fight under the Zuffa umbrella.

Certainly the numbers support Lombard being considered a top 10 middleweight in MMA, but until he gets a chance to really prove himself in the UFC or Strikeforce, it is going to be tough to just know what kind of potential this guy has. Certainly, he has to be one of the best fighters in the world that is now employed by Zuffa.

  

Strikeforce Recap: Cesar Gracie Camp Dominates

nullIt was a night for the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu camp on Saturday night as Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez defended their Strikeforce titles in impressive fashion.

Diaz beat hard-hitting Paul Daley to defend his Strikeforce Welterweight Championship in the night’s main event.

The two had a slug fest as each man was rocked at some point in the first round. Diaz landed more strikes, his punches didn’t seem to do the same damage as his opponent’s. Daley managed to sneak in a few powerful hooks that put Diaz on the ground. Diaz recovered, however, and eventually went on to pepper Daley with punches to the head and body. Daley eventually stumbled to the ground and Diaz followed up with a barrage of punches that forced a stoppage with just seconds remaining in the opening round.

In the co-main event, Diaz’ teammate, Gilbert Melendez had the top performance of the night, running through Tatsuya Kawajiri in 3:14 to defend his Strikeforce Lightweight Championship. Melendez was very accurate with his punches, landing clean shots to the jaw of Kawajiri. After a few minutes of that, Kawajiri hit the floor and Melendez jumped on him, landing a slew of vicious elbows that put an end to the fight and gave Melendez his fifth-straight win.

Saturday’s wins were a big statement for the Cesar Gracie team, which includes Nate Diaz and Jake Shields. Shields will contend for the UFC Welterweight Championship later this month and if he is able to upset Georges St. Pierre, that would give this camp three world champions. Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has quietly become one of the top fight camps in all of MMA.

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Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley Picks & Predictions

nullStrikeforce returns to Showtime tonight at 10 p.m. ET with two title fights and four total bouts on the main card. Here are my thoughts on those four contests.

Strikeforce Welterweight Championship: Nick Diaz (24-7-1) vs. Paul Daley (27-9-2) – I like Diaz to retain his title in this bout as I think he has the better all-around skills. Daley has great punching power but is one dimensional. Once the fight hits the ground, Diaz will easily be in control and score a submission. Don’t sleep on Diaz’ striking either, as his jab has been able to cause problems for other strikers in the past.

Strikeforce Lightweight Championship: Gilbert Melendez (19-2) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-6-2) – Melendez should be able to handle Kawajiri, who is making his first jump into the U.S. Kawajiri didn’t bother to train in a cage for this fight, which I think will be a problem. I like Melendez to work his striking and mix in some takedowns to earn another decision victory.

Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Bout: Gegard Mousasi (30-3-1) vs. Keith Jardine (17-9-1) – Jardine is a late replacement for Mike Kyle, but I think he is a tougher opponent. Jardine has some big-fight experience, but has been on a bit of a downslide in his career. This should be a striker’s fight, and Mousasi has the faster hands and more power to work with. I look for him to land a clean punch on Jardine and earn a TKO finish in the second round.

Strikeforce Lightweight Bout: Shinya Aoki (26-5-1) vs. Lyle Beerbohm (16-1): Beerbohm is a game fighter but I think this bout will ultimately go to the ground, and that is where Aoki should be able to take over. His slick and crafty submissions should be too much for Beerbohm to defend. I like Aoki to score a submission victory in the opening round.

  

Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley weigh-in results

nullThe two title fights for Saturday’s Strikeforce card are now official as all four competitors weighed in on Friday night.

In the main event, Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz (169.75 pounds) and contender Paul Daley (169.5) both weighed in under the 170-pound limit. Following their weigh ins, the two had an intense face-to-face stare down and had to be separated by officials as they yelled back-and-forth at each other.

In the co-main event, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez (154.75) and challenger Tatsuya Kawajiri (154.25) also weighed in under their 155-pound limit, making their championship fight official.

The main card also features a light heavyweight clash between Keith Jardine and Gegard Mousasi while Shinya Aoki takes on Lyle Beerbohm in a lightweight contest.

The main card will air live on Showtime starting at 10PM ET.

For complete weigh-in results (courtesy of MMAMania.com), check the jump.

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