Kevin Randleman vs Mike Whitehead
I'm indifferent towards this fight because it bumped Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante off the main card. He should walk through Mike Kyle, but it still bothers me that Strikeforce would lower him on the card for Randleman/Whitehead. Neither of these two is making a title run anytime soon. Feijao, on the other hand, is one of the best young fighters in the sport. You gotta showcase him, even if it's against a replacement fighter.
That said, I'm favoring Whitehead. Randleman is one of those guys who gets more credit than he deserves. His record is a pedestrian 17-12. You might say, "Well, Couture doesn't have a great record, either." The difference is Couture has lots of big wins. Randleman has very few.
I also tend to stay away from fighters who recently had a kid, got engaged, got married, are planning a wedding, or had knee surgery. Randleman got married like a month ago. Combine this with Randleman's sketchy submission defense and I think Whitehead takes it by 1st Round Submission.
Joe Riggs vs Phil Baroni
Baroni makes me laugh and I wish I could pick him, but Riggs seems motivated and barring a random punch, wins this one rather easily. Riggs by 1st Round TKO.
Nick Diaz vs Scott Smith
Smith puts on entertaining fights, is as tough as they come, and has elite level knockout power. With that out of the way, he's overrated. His stock is artificially high. In the first fight with Lawler, he was getting smoked and would have eventually been knocked out. In the second fight, he was outclassed. Against Radach, he was being pummeled for three rounds before connecting. I don't buy his status as a title contender. Diaz should have his way with Smith. He's smart enough to win without putting himself into danger. Diaz by 2nd Round Submission.
Andrei Arlovski vs Brett Rogers
This is a difficult fight to predict. Arlovski is coming off a truly horrific knockout loss to Fedor. Historically, fighters do not rebound well from those. There is also the late booking. This fight was announced two and half weeks ago. Arlovski was supposed to be preparing for a six round boxing match on June 27th. It's weird to say the least. I'm not sure if Arlovski is crazy or stupid. For Rogers, the decision to take the fight was a no-brainer. It's an excellent opportunity for a power puncher to knock out a big name opponent who often goes down hard.
Let me explain a little bit about why the timing of the fight perplexes me. Arlovski is training for a boxing match. His mindset is completely on stand-up. No wrestling, grappling, etc. He might be in great shape for a boxing match, but I find it hard to believe his body is ready for wrestling. It's a different conditioning. This isn't to say Rogers is a wrestling powerhouse and will wear down Arlovski. He is good in close, though. He also outweighs Arlovski by twenty pounds. If Rogers leans on Arlovski a bit early, we might see a tired fighter as the fight goes on. I just don't get why he and his camp would ever agree to the fight on two and half weeks notice.
I'm going with the underdog. He will probably lose the 1st Round, but I think Arlovski will tire a bit in the 2nd and leave himself open for a big strike. Rogers by 2nd Round KO.
Jake Shields vs Robbie Lawler
Shields is one of the best MMA jiu-jitsu guys out there. He's also one of the worst strikers among top fighters. The best comparison is to Matt Hughes. Both are great fighters, elite fighters even, but their striking is comically below average. It's going to be an enormous mismatch on the feet. Lawler is a brutally effective striker. If I had to name the five best strikers (pure striking on its own), Lawler makes the list.
Shields needs to survive on his feet and somehow get the the fight to the mat. The problem will be getting a bigger opponent down without getting knocked senseless in the process. I don't think he can wrestle Lawler down. I also don't think he knocks him down with a strike. That leaves the third option, which is getting hit. Shields will need to capitalize on Lawler's aggressiveness. He needs him to follow him to the ground and I think he has a good shot at getting it to happen. This is where the fight will be won or lost. Either Shields pulls a crazy submission or Lawler finishes it from the top with strikes. I'm going with the latter. Lawler by 2nd Round TKO.