Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine Preview and Predictions

I know things have been quiet here on the blog recently, but trust me when I say that I’m doing things behind the scenes. In particular, here’s what I’m working on…

-I’m very close to finishing ELO ratings. At this point, it just needs some finishing touches. Expect top 25 rankings to be posted here next week.

-Since the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will be starting soon, I’ve started seriously crunching numbers. My attempts to predict who would do well on the show have been terrible the last couple seasons, and it’s about time I change that. I’m not sure there’s a single data point that would have rated Colton Smith well last season, but I think I can at least do a better job for season 17. We’ll see.

-A longer-term project I’m working on is a new fighter rating system that uses win/loss data for a fighter and his opponents (featuring both ELO ratings and a variant on an early version of SILVA scores), and uses Fight Metric data as well. For this one, I’m not playing around… I want all the data. If it is at all possible to have a GOOD rating system for fighters based on data, this one will be it.

Here are my abbreviated picks for tomorrow’s Strikeforce event. For the last Strikeforce event ever, there is some very good talent from top to bottom on the card. Unfortunately, much of that talent is facing over-matched opponents. As a result, I’m not going to spend too much time breaking these fights down, but I will provide some thoughts on the main card fights.

By the way, I’ve joined the Sherdog fantasy picks contest this year, to put my picks to the test. My screen name there is “dwilliamsmma” if you want to see where I rank on the leaderboard.

-From what I see, the one advantage that Tarec Saffiedine has over Nate Marquardt is that he’s a more active striker. Saffiedine is a fighter who doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses, but also doesn’t have overwhelming talent in any one facet of the MMA game. He’s a pretty good technical striker, but doesn’t have much knockout power behind his strikes. Saffiedine’s takedown game is pretty solid, particularly his takedown defense, but his tendency is to stand and strike. There are a couple problems. One is that Saffiedine has been facing a relatively low level of competition – he looked decent against Roger Bowling, Tyler Stinson, Scott Smith, and Nate Moore, but none of those fighters are anywhere near Nate Marquardt’s level. The other problem is that, against that level of competition, Saffiedine only did fairly well. Only against Scott Smith did Saffiedine turn in a dominating performance, and let’s be honest – Smith is pretty much a punching bag at this point.

There have been fights in which Marquardt looks lethargic. I’ll set Marquardt’s reasons for this aside for now. In Marquardt’s fight against Tyron Woodley, he looked anything but lethargic, eventually stopping Woodley by fourth-round KO. If Marquardt reverts to the slower pace that he showed against fighters like Yushin Okami, that opens the door for Saffiedine to win on points. I don’t think that’s going to happen – I see Marquardt being aggressive, landing the more powerful strikes, and if he doesn’t win by knockout, taking a decision. I’ll go out on a limb a little bit, and say that Marquardt wins by KO in this one.

-Heavyweight squash match #1 features Daniel Cormier, one of this blog’s favorite fighters, taking on an opponent in Dion Staring who at least enters with a 28-7 overall record. Besides the record, there aren’t many good things I can say about Staring, at least in the context of this fight. Staring has won nine of his last ten fights, but the only good fighter he faced in that time was Damian Grabowski, who submitted him. When Staring fought Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he was out-struck, out-grappled, and just plain out-fought. If Staring struggles against good competition, what is he going to do against an elite heavyweight in Cormier? Cormier is a very smart fighter who knows that Staring’s only realistic chance is to catch him with a strike and knock him out. Look for Cormier to easily take Staring down and win by first-round TKO.

-Heavyweight squash match #2 features Josh Barnett taking on Austrian heavyweight Nandor Guelmino. Unlike Staring, I had never heard of Guelmino before he was announced as Barnett’s opponent. So I decided to do some YouTube scouting, and the first Guelmino fight I watched was this one…

That’s all I needed to see. Guelmino’s opponent, Aljin Ahmic, took him down, mounted him, blasted him with punches, and probably could have submitted him. When Guelmino went for what looked like a desperate guillotine choke, Ahmic tapped out so quickly that it was suspicious. In this fight, look for Barnett to throw Guelmino around the cage, possibly with a suplex, before either choking him or nearly ripping off one of his limbs. Barnett by first-round submission.

Gegard Mousasi versus Mike Kyle is far from a squash match, but it’s still a fairly lopsided fight. Mousasi is a very talented fighter, with a good submission game to go along with excellent striking. Mousasi is a good enough striker that he has twice competed in kickboxing matches on K-1 Dynamite!! shows, and defeated both Musashi and Kyotaro, both very high level kickboxers. By contrast, Mike Kyle is a slugger whose career has mostly consisted of overwhelming inferior strikers. To Kyle’s credit, he does have a TKO win over Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante on his record, but he’s in over his head here. If Mousasi chooses to strike with Kyle, he should prove to be the much better technical striker, and will probably win by knockout. I think Mousasi will skip the striking game altogether, take Kyle down, and submit him.

-When I saw the betting lines for Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Ed Herman, my initial instinct was to think that Herman wasn’t getting enough respect from the betting public – Souza is currently a 4-1 favorite to win. But the more I look into this fight, the more I think the steep line is justified. Herman’s strength as a fighter is his wrestling, and he almost always goes to it. He also has good submission offense, but that’s irrelevant against “Jacare.” What is relevant is that Herman has five losses by submission in his career, and four of them were against fighters who aren’t nearly as good on the ground as Souza is (the other was Demian Maia, who IS as good as Souza on the ground). I would like to think that Herman’s smart enough not to take this fight to the ground, but he didn’t show much urgency to keep his fight against Jake Shields standing. And even if this does become a striking match, Souza could well prove to be better at it. I have to pick Souza to win by submission in this fight.

Here are my picks for the preliminary fights… I’d love to say I’m picking an underdog somewhere, but I’m being a weenie and going with all chalk:

-Pat Healy over Kurt Holobaugh by decision
-Roger Gracie over Anthony Smith by submission
-Tim Kennedy over Trevor Smith by decision
-K.J. Noons over Ryan Couture by decision
-Adriano Martins over Jorge Gurgel by decision (please Jorge… for once in your life, take the fight to the ground)
-Estevan Payan over Michael Bravo by decision

As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights.

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2 responses to “Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine Preview and Predictions

  1. Howard January 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Tapology is where my picks are.”howardinlasvegas” is my screen name.

    I like Couture in an upset.

    • David Williams January 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      I’ll be sure to follow your picks on there. Hopefully I can keep up.

      Couture-Noons is definitely the most competitive fight on the card in my opinion. If Couture fights smart, and grinds Noons instead of striking with him, there’s upset potential there.

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