Mixed martial arts will return to network television on Saturday night when CBS broadcasts three Strikeforce title fights, live from Nashville, Tennessee. We've got the full preview and predictions for the Strikeforce lightweight, middleweight and light heavyweight title bouts below.
What: Strikeforce: Nashville
When: The televised fights will be shown live at 9 PM ET and on tape delay in the Pacific time zone.
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
Predictions on the four televised fights:
Dan Henderson vs. Jake Shields
Signing Henderson was a huge move for Strikeforce, and he's been the guy CBS has really promoted leading up to this fight. For as many good fights as Shields has given Strikeforce and CBS, I don't think there's any doubt that the promotion and the network are hoping Henderson will win. I think they'll get their wish.
Gegard Mousasi vs. "King Mo" Lawal
Mousasi, the former Dream middleweight champion and current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, is indisputably one of the best young fighters in all of mixed martial arts. Lawal, a former wrestler who's 6-0 with five knockouts, might be among the best young fighters as well, but he hasn't been tested the way Mousasi will test him. I like Lawal, but I don't think he's on Mousasi's level.
Shinya Aoki vs. Gilbert Melendez
I consider this the most competitive fight of the night. Aoki's one-of-a-kind submission skills pose a major threat to Melendez, but Melendez has better striking than Aoki and is capable of knocking Aoki out. Melendez says he's been obsessive about studying Aoki's tape to figure out everything Aoki likes to do on the ground, but I feel like Aoki will have some jiu jitsu tricks up his sleeve and find a way to make Melendez tap.
Jason Mayhem Miller vs. Tim Stout
This was a rather strange last-minute booking, with Miller, who's well known as the host of Bully Beatdown and well liked by fans and the media, getting an opponent he shouldn't have any trouble beating. CBS has said it will televise all or part of the fight, depending on how long the three title fights go. I expect Miller to make quick work of Stout -- making for a short fight that CBS can easily sandwich in when there's a lull in the live action.