SI.com analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt and Jeff Wagenheim provide their predictions for Saturday’s Strikeforce card at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey
FOWLKES: We don’t know enough about Rousey yet to know whether she should be the favorite or the underdog. We know almost nothing about her, in fact, because she has less than a round’s worth of pro experience. That’s why I have to side with the known quantity and the current champ, who’s better and more experienced than anyone Rousey has faced. Tate by decision.
HUNT: Can anyone stop Rousey’s armbar attack? There has to be someone, but I don’t think Tate will be the woman to do it. Rousey by submission.
WAGENHEIM: Rousey is 4-0, all submission wins, none lasting more than 49 seconds. I don’t care if you’re fighting the Little Sisters of the Poor — that’s impressive. Sure, Tate is a big step up in competition, but what does that mean? Maybe it’ll take “Rowdy” Ronda two minutes this time. Rousey by submission.
K.J. Noons vs. Josh Thomson
FOWLKES: Thomson used to be a heck of a fighter before injuries descended on him like a plague. Now he fights only sporadically, and has to be careful not to hurt himself in training. That’ll cost him against a savvy striker like Noons, who won’t have the same concerns about rust and frailty. Noons by decision.
HUNT: Thomson’s wrestling and submissions are superior, and I’d say their striking is closely comparable. The unknowns are 1) how the 15-month layoff has affected Thomson and 2) if Noons is still on the growth spurt we saw in his December fight against Billy Evangelista. Thomson by decision.
WAGENHEIM: The oft-injured Thomson hasn’t fought since 2010, so he’ll have to contend with not just Noons but also his own rust. But “The Punk” has the more well-rounded game here — if he can find it. Thomson by decision.
Paul Daley vs. Kazuo Misaki
FOWLKES: Misaki can take a thumping, and Daley can give one. What Misaki can’t do quite as well is take opponents down and hold them there, which is Daley’s kryptonite. Daley by TKO.
HUNT: Daley still has some of the sharpest boxing at welterweight. Misaki’s staring down his third straight TKO loss. Daley by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: Misaki’s judo would seem to pose a threat to stand-up guy “Semtex,” except for the fact that Kazuo’s last four bouts (two Ws, two Ls) all have ended in TKOs. That is Daley’s game. Daley by TKO.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Bristol Marunde
FOWLKES: Marunde isn’t a bad choice as a late replacement, but neither is he spectacular in any one area. Souza has become a good enough striker that he could probably win this on the feet if he had to, but he shouldn’t. If it hits the ground, it’s over. Souza by submission.
HUNT: Seven-day replacement Marunde has won five of his 12 fights by submission, but this will mean nothing against “Jacare,” a world jiu-jitsu champion. The real bad news for Marunde is he’ll be the first guy to face Souza since he lost the title last September. Souza by submission.
WAGENHEIM: Marunde has won nine of his last 10 bouts, but none of those vanquished opponents could dish out what “Jacare” brings to the table. Souza by submission.
Scott Smith vs. Lumumba Sayers
FOWLKES: I don’t know if Strikeforce is hoping to once again use Smith to catapult a future prospect forward, or just hoping that Smith might get his first win in over two years. He’s predictable, but also dependable in his declining years. And power is the last thing to go. Smith by TKO.
HUNT: Smith has given us two of the greatest single-punch comebacks ever, but at 32, the punishment he’s taken is catching up with him. Still, Smith’s overall experience should pick up that slack against Sayers. Smith by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: Smith has lost three straight, and it could be worse, since his most recent victory was an improbable comeback KO of Cung Le back in 2009. Sayers, meanwhile, is on his way up. Sayers by submission.