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Trading Punches: Strikeforce Evolution Preview & Predictions

Strikeforce Editor-In-Chief Cory Brady along with our very own David Andrest are back once again to break down this weekend’s “Strikeforce: Evolution” card, and believe it or not we actually have a legitimate edition of “Trading Punches” as opposed to “Trading Compliments” like many of our recent agreeable editions of the series have been.

“Strikeforce: Evolution” will be going down tomorrow evening, December 19, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, featuring an anticipated slugfest between Cung Le and Scott Smith as the headliner, a lightweight championship rematch pitting Josh Thomson up against Gilbert Melendez, and much more.

So come along as Brady tells Andrest exactly where he went wrong with his predictions, and as always, please feel free to put up or shut up by posting a quick set of your own picks in the comment section below.


David Andrest: Scott Smith is one of my favorite fighters to watch. While best known by many for his spectacular highlight knockout of Pete Sell in the UFC, Smith is no stranger to the “lucky” punch. When you have grasped victory from the jaws of defeat as many times as Smith, luck has little to do with it. Cung Le is coming off nearly a two year lay off, and while his record remains unblemished, father time, and inactivity are not a fighters best friend. I think we will see Cung Le beat on Smith for the better portion of three rounds. Smith does an interesting job of setting up his big right hand by taking 30 shots to the face. For some reason my gut is telling me Smith will find a way ( right hand to the chin) to win this fight.

Winner: Scott Smith via Knockout (Late third round)

Cory Brady: Knockout lovers unite, this fight is for you guys. There is absolutely no way this fight makes it to the judges. Cung Le has never been to the scorecards, and a little known fact about Smith is that he has only gone to a decision once in a total of twenty-three fights. That’s along with “Hands of Steel” finishing every single one of his sixteen victories on his own terms, meaning neither fighter has EVER won a mixed martial arts bout by decision, and tomorrow evening will be no exception to the rule.

The most significant difference here, as it is in all of Cung’s fights, will undoubtedly be the large gap in the striking department. Smith’s a great striker for MMA, but Le is leaps and bounds past where Smith can hope to be technically in the stand-up category. Smith could score a takedown, but I doubt it because Cung comes from a wrestling background, and he COULD land a miracle punch like David described before me, but don’t bet on it. Le told me in a recent conversation that he is well aware of Smith’s potential to end a fight at any moment, and I feel confident his experience in similar situations against better strikers than Smith will enable Cung to pick apart Scott on the feet in this one, with little worry of the infamous “come from behind punch”.

Winner: Cung Le via TKO


David Andrest: Losing the Lawler fight from this card will not be the end of the world. As much as I hate to say it, I just don’t see this fight ending outside of 25 minutes. This is about as well matched as you could hope for in a lightweight title fight. The downside to that is the potential for a less than exciting fight from an action standpoint. Thomson is coming off  injuries that have kept him out of the cage for an extended time.

Winner: Gilbert Melendez via Decision

Cory Brady: While I don’t agree with the man Andrest believes will end up on the winning side of things in this match-up, I can agree with him in feeling that it’s highly probable that this bout makes it all five rounds. Of course anything can happen in this crazy sport and both guys can finish fights, but I don’t feel like they can finish one another. Styles make fights and I expect a closely contested fight between two extremely talented and well rounded lightweights, who’s strengths will cancel the others out in a battle that will look a lot like the first between the two.

Winner: Josh Thomson via Decision


David Andrest: This fight has a potential to be revisited by FiveOunesofPain in the form of a major award on Christmas Day. If you are familiar with Matt Lindland you already know  ( cue politically correct David) he has a methodical style that wears his opponents down. Lindland has employed this style with success so I can’t see things going different in this fight.  Lindland will not submit Jacare, and I don’t think he will knock him out.  I think Lindland will spend the majority of this fight in top position of Jacare’s guard.  Lindland has good enough submission defense to stay out of trouble.

Winner:  Matt Lindland via Smothering Decision

Cory Brady: David can play the PC until he’s blue in the face, but I’ll come right out and say it, Lindland has been near the very top of my least favorite fighters to watch for many years running because I happen to find his style of fighting…. boring as all hell to be quite honest. Howevr, obviously boring has been known to win fights, and Lindland can be pointed to as a direct example of this. I feel like Matt may have won this fight like three years ago, but I haven’t seen anything out of the aging and one dimensional Lindland since he TKO’d Jeremy Horn in 2006. I feel like Jacare is the superior striker, he’s obviously better with the submissions, and most importantly, he has youth and explosiveness on his side. Lindland is a world class Greco Roman wrestler, but I’ve said it before, I’ll end up saying it a million times: Good at everything trumps great at one thing every single time.

Winner: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza via Submission


David Andrest: What can be said about King Mo that he and his pundits haven’t already said about him?  Young, charismatic, explosive, outstanding wresting, underrated stand up; However, the thing that is most often overlooked is the record. At 5-0 as a professional Lawal is still just getting started.   Lawal holds a 10th degree black belt in media relations, and on that statistic alone finds himself  an incredible -600 on some notable Vegas sportsbooks. Whitehead on the other hand is  15-1 in his last 16 with his lone loss coming by decision to Babalu Sobral. The one determining factor in this fight for me might just be Lawal’s management. Ryan Parsons has done a wonderful job guiding the young fighter, and appears to have systematically placed Lawal in positions where he can excel. I am of the belief this will be the first true test for “”King Mo”, and it will not be an easy one.

Winner: Muhammed Lawal via decision.

Cory Brady: For Mo to be coming in as a -600 is absolutely ridiculous to me. I don’t feel like it’s fair to put those type of expectations on a fighter with a fraction of the experience as his opponent. An opponent in Whitehead that Andrest pointed out has a 15-1 record entering this fight. Whitehead’s only defeat in his last sixteen bouts was to former Strikeforce champ Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and the guy went the distance. Yet there are still those that would be happy with nothing less than a first round knockout, because those are the type of unreal expectations the hype surrounding a talented, up and coming can produce. While I still feel like Mo will win this fight, and win it impressively, lets give him the credit he’s due if he turns Whitehead into a highlight reel, and not look down on him if it ends up going to the scorecards. This is a great test for Lawal at this point in his still developing career, and a test I expect for him to pass with flying colors.

Winner: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal via TKO

  • Rich S. says:

    Le/Smith SHOULD BE a one-sided beatdown that ends in Le TKO’ing Smith.. But, I’m not so sure that will happen.. Cung Le is a very smart fighter, and it’s hard for me to picture him actually having problems in a fight.. against Scott Smith no less.. But, it will be interesting to see how he performs after this huge hiatus.. All the while, Scott has kept relevant, and had some solid fights with championship material opponents like Lawler and Diaz, and other good MW’s like Radach and Martin.. I could definitely see Smith taking a knockout with one of those wild rights, but I have to assume Cung Le is going to kick his way right to victory..
    Cung Le via TKO r3.

    In their first bout, I was sure that Thomson was going to win.. Now, I’m not so sure.. Thomson has a had a long break, while Gilbert has only gotten better with two straight knockout victories.. I think I’m going to go with Melendez this time around..
    Gilbert Melendez via Unanimous Decision.

    I basically agree with Cory on Jacare/Lindland.. Jacare clearly has the better submissions, and I would even say he has better striking, although I don’t like his striking.. But, most importantly, he’s far more energetic and explosive than Lindland, and that’s why he’ll win this fight..
    Jacare via Choke r2.

    Sure, being 15-1 for your last 16 is impressive, as well as having a 30 fight career.. But, it’s not so impressive when the lone loss in that streak was your only important fight.. King Mo is bigger, badder, and will control this fight..
    King Mo via TKO r2.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    All of the outcomes you guys have said are the most likely and it is hard to say which way it will go. I just hope that if Linland does just smother that by the time the bell rings in rd 3 that Souza has had time to work a sub. I would also add why does everyone rate Smith so lowly and rate Le so highly when Cung’s biggest victory was over Shamrock in what to me looked like a sparring match. I think Smith could pull this off and if he does it will be KO/TKO.

  • Rich S. says:

    Cung Le may not have a huge record, but he’s highly touted because he deserves it..
    He hasn’t gotten that many big name fights yet, but the guy’s dangerous..
    He can kick you anywhere, FROM anywhere..
    He’s got sick takedown defense, and sick takedowns..
    And he would cause anyone but the most technical strikers and the best wrestlers problems..

  • Lord Faust says:

    I like both guys in the Le / Smith fight, but there’s something about having watched Smith’s fights — ever since his epic KO in the UF — that makes me want to see him take this. In the most recent interview I heard, on The Fight Show, he seemed to be very conscious of the fact he’s known for taking a lot of unneccessary damage; I hope he really has taken that to heart. He’s an exciting fighter and has put on some amazing fights, I’d like to see his hard work pay off. That said, Cung Le is going to definitely give Smith his toughest test yet and I would not be shocked if the former champ took this one. Either way, I’d suggest you don’t blink when this goes down.

  • Makington says:

    Rich S.: Cung Le may not have a huge record, but he’s highly touted because he deserves it..
    He hasn’t gotten that many big name fights yet, but the guy’s dangerous..
    He can kick you anywhere, FROM anywhere..
    He’s got sick takedown defense, and sick takedowns..
    And he would cause anyone but the most technical strikers and the best wrestlers problems..

    Well put sir. His MMA record is definitely lacking, but his fighting record is quite extensive. He is 17-0 at sanshou where he fought some of the best strikers on the planet and excelled every single time. He has won numerous martial art championships around North America. It’s hard to put into words just how good he is at striking, and with striking alone he beats anyone in the world. He doesn’t have a crap load of MMA experience, but he does have a ton of experience altogether. It’s no secret that his ground game will be his downfall if he loses an MMA fight, but Smith won’t be that guy. Smith will want to stand just as much as Le wants to, where he is light years ahead of the game.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Yeah I feel where you guys coming from but Shamrock did reasonably well against him in that fight before retiring hurt. So if he is that good he hasn’t shown it yet. If Shamrock and Smith were to stand and trade I would back Smith I think.
    I hope he comes out and shows me that he is what you guys are saying he is.

    P.S. I have seen a few of his sanshou fights and he was impressive.

  • Makington says:

    He will never be as impressive as he was in his sanshou fights with his striking unfortunately. In those fights he didn’t have to worry about how much he was committing into his strikes and if they left him too open for a takedown. Now I do love Scott Smith and I know what a brawler he is but if Le is giving him obvious chances for a takedown, Smith would be a fool not to take them. He was doing good clinching and pushing Sammy Morgan away in their fight…..but that’s Sammy Morgan.

    He does still do a lot of flashy but effective kicks and nice moves but we won’t see him going ‘sanshou’ on any guys in the octagon. Despite all this, I am just pumped for this fight.

  • edub says:

    I agree with all of Cory’s predictions except I think Lindland will beat Jacare.

    Cung Le is gonna be too technical and beat Scot Smith’s body into submission.
    Cung Le via Tko(broken rib)
    Thomson will do the same thing he did to Melendez last time. Pick him apart on the feet and win the takedown battle
    Josh Thomson eking out an exciting decision

    Matt Lindland via “Matt Lindlanding” Jacare

    If King Mo doesnt put Whitehead away early I think we could be looking at a huge upset. Mike usually uses his size well so he might be able to wear Lawal down. However, I don’t think that’ll happen.
    King Mo by smashing Rd1

    I am really hoping we can see Lighty vs Britt at some point in the night.

  • moosebaby02 says:


  • David Andrest says:

    Scott Smith saves the day!!

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Told you so.
    Edub didn’t go so well but all of the fights bar King Mo were hard to call.


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