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Strikeforce: Miami Preview – Stars, Struck

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Like celebrities? Who doesn’t!
/flips through InTouch

Okay, I don’t. And I certainly am not a fan of MMA grinders making way for celeb names at the top of the card, an affliction that Strikeforce: Miami suffers from. While the card has a pair of belts up for grabs, it also has a pair of “name” athletes fighting glorified exhibitions in the cage, and that pushes my hate-buttons. While occasionally a “name” becomes a legit top-level fighter (see: Lesnar, Brock) more often they’re in the cage to grab a little cash while bringing in indifferent eyeballs that don’t really care about the sport. Everybody wins – except MMA fans, who are left pounding the fast-forward button.

Thankfully, if you can blind your eyes to the glare of the “stars”, there are a few fights to recommend here.

I was… how old when this photo was taken? Oh, right. I hadn’t been born yet.

Let’s get the gawking out of the way first. Most younger MMA fans will likely have more of a connection to Bobby Lashley, he of the ECW title reigns. (Having once owned a Sabu t-shirt, I feel shameful legitimizing the WWE’s reboot of Ee See Dub.) This is Lashley’s 5th MMA fight (4-0) and first on a major stage, and he should make short work of TUF veteran Wes Sims (22-12-1 2 NC), who accepted the fight on eight days’ notice after previous opponents were rejected by first the state athletic commission and then Showtime. That should give you an idea of what sort of mismatch this ought to be.

But it’s Herschel Walker that’s the bigger celebrity freakshow here. At one point, Walker won the Heisman and put together a solid little NFL career, lasting 11 years as a running back, making two Pro Bowls and posting a 1,500 yard rushing season in 1988. Unfortunately, Walker appears to have caught Faded Athlete Syndrome and is attempting his first MMA fight… at the age of 47. Yiiiipes. Walker, apparently not a big enough name to crack the lineup of Dancing With The Stars, will attempt to crack the skull of Greg Nagy instead. Despite his advanced age, Herschel, who according to USA Today competed in the Olympics (as a bobsledder!) in 1992, currently trains at American Kickboxing Academy and is still in tremendous shape by most reports. It’s not going to be a classic, but look for Walker to record a win over the 1-1 Nagy, who is twenty years Walker’s junior.

The rest of the card carries a little less trainwreck and a little more quality viewing.

The main event features Nick Diaz (assuming somebody has kept him on a short leash and made sure he’s attended all his drug tests this time around). He’ll battle Marius Zaromskis, who has already captured DREAM’s Welterweight Title, in a five-rounder for Strikeforce’s belt of the same name. Zaromskis’ head kicks are gaining Cro Cop-esque notoriety, and his nickname is “The Whitemare”, which I already desperately regret I did not rush to hang on Christian Laettner. Probably a stand-up war, this one; give Diaz the edge if it goes to the ground but look out for Zaromskis’ flash KO potential.

The night’s second title fight features Cris “Cyborg” Santos defending her Women’s Lightweight Championship for the first time. She’ll go against top contender and Dutchwoman Marloes Coenen. While Coenen looked good in her last fight, the onus is on her to prove she can hang with Santos, considered one of the best pound-for-pounders in the women’s game. I think Coenen can make it out of the first round (which Gina Carano was barely unable to) but expect Cyborg to notch another win here.

Filling out the main card are Robbie Lawler and Melvin Manhoef, and the easy money is on this one to produce the knockout of the night. 23 of Manhoef’s 24 wins are by KO and Lawler also loves to stand and hammer with 15 KO finishes. They’ll be tradin’, no doubt.

Finally, can Jay Hieron catch a break? I’ve written previously about his spate of bad luck. On this card, not only does he get passed over for the title shot in favor of Zaromskis, but Hieron’s bout against Joe Riggs has been moved to the preliminaries and off the televised portion of the event. Shameful, Strikeforce.

photo from ABC News

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About Matt DeTura