In a sport where rivalries between promoters generate as much buzz as fights between fighters, there's a couple battles worth mentioning Saturday night.
Holding its first card since trumping the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the rights to feature
While bout sheets for the event (Showtime, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT) haven't remained intact for so long as a week since the "mega-fight card" was first announced two months ago, the top of the bill -- a fight between female star
Since debuting as a professional in 2006, Carano (7-0) emerged as one of MMA's first crossover stars. Listed ahead of First Lady
After losing her pro debut in 2005, "Cyborg" -- a nickname taken from her husband, fellow fighter
In all likelihood, Carano-Cyborg will be remembered as a battle of attrition. The fighters have touted a war, one likely to play out on the feet as each is comfortable in a firefight. Will Santos' aggression and pressure wilt Carano? Can Cyborg put away a skilled opponent who won't give up 10 to 15 pounds?
The consensus holds that Cyborg's Muay Thai will overwhelm Carano's. That's entirely plausible, but so is Carano mustering the courage to stand in the pocket and unload straight punches against a wild opponent.
As these things go when women fight on the same card as men, they often steal the show. On Saturday, they've been handed the keys.
A refugee lost amid Affliction's rubble, Strikeforce co-opted this light heavyweight fight as one of several replacement bouts when its original lineup went to shambles. It's quite an addition. Sobral, one of the most experienced 205-pounders outside the UFC, will now fight Mousasi, a cocky talent from the Netherlands, with his Strikeforce belt on the line. Added incentive wasn't necessary, but it's welcome.
As skill and talent go, few have more potential than the Iranian-born, Dutch-reared fighter of Armenian heritage who was ranked by many in the top five at 185 pounds before moving up in weight this year. At just 24 years of age with an impressive 25-2-1 record in mixed martial arts, the kid is a striker first, but he has worked hard to incorporate submission and grappling into his game.
Against Sobral (35-8), the challenger meets a top 10 champion who has fought everywhere and anyone for a decade. It could be a mistake for "Babalu" to strike with Mousasi, but he might do it anyhow. We've seen it before. While the 34-year-old Strikeforce champion is a better wrestler coming into the five-round title fight, he's also highly emotional. Mistakes in game plan and execution have cost him in the past, and we could very well see that scenario play out again Saturday.
Set for the Strikeforce interim lightweight title after the organization's champion,
On short notice, it's terrific, though the 30-year-old Ishida's profile took a hit in May when he lost to
Their fight in 2007 was basically an extra long, extra intense wrestling match. Because Melendez made the mistake of not mixing things up, Ishida (18-5-1) capitalized by controlling positionally and more importantly, winning scrambles.
With a full training camp behind him, Melendez, 25, should have an edge in conditioning. And over the course of a five-round fight, that alone might be enough for him to even his mark against Ishida at 1-1.