Every time Strikeforce puts on an event, speculation, questions, and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or underperform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the Strikeforce athletes are set to enter the cage, questions follow.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman.
4. Will Miesha Tate Rebound From Losing Her Belt With A Strong Performance?
Roughly six months ago, Miesha Tate was on top of the world. The 25-year-old was undefeated in Strikeforce and was defeating all comers until she ran into a woman named Ronda Rousey last March. Rousey came into the fight and took the belt from around Tate’s waist via submission in the first round.
The loss was the first in three years for Tate, and in her first fight since losing the belt, “Takedown” will face a very experienced opponent in Julie Kedzie. While the bout has not been announced a number one contenders fight, an impressive victory could earn Tate another shot at the champion due to the shallow nature of the woman’s bantamweight division.
There’s really no telling what kind of performance Tate will have, though, as every fighter handles a hard loss differently. Tate’s defeat to Rousey was about as bad as it can get as her arm was nearly snapped off. The Washington native has a chance to prove the loss to Rousey didn’t derail her too hard and that she is still a threat to win the championship.
3. Can Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza Earn A Middleweight Title Shot?
After submitting Bristol Marunde last March, Ronald “Jacare” Souza returns to the Strikeforce cage to face Derek Brunson on the main card. Training out of team X-Gym in Brazil, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion will is being pegged as the next title challenger to Luke Rockhold’s belt at 185-pounds.
Souza and Rockhold have already fought once before, back in Sept. 2011 with Rockhold emerging victorious by unanimous decision. The champion and Souza have expressed interest in fighting again and both believe they have unfinished business. They would like to fight each other again to try and end the fight inside the distance, but first, Souza needs to defeat Brunson in a decisive fashion.
With Rockhold having recently defeated Tim Kennedy, he is eagerly awaiting his next opponent and with the division wide open in terms of contenders, an impressive performance could slide Souza into that number one contenders slot.
2. Can Sarah Kaufman Stop The Rise Of Ronda Rousey?
With all the media attention and talk and focus directed at Ronda Rousey and her first title defense this Saturday night, everyone seems to be forgetting about Rousey’s opponent, Sarah Kaufman.
Kaufman is the former Strikeforce champion and for a long time has been one of the very best female fighters in the world. On paper, Kaufman holds the advantage over Rousey in the striking department while Rousey is obviously the better grappler due to her Olympic-level Judo skills.
The highest percentage for Kaufman to win the fight is to keep the fight standing and try to test the unproven striking abilities of Rousey. With 10 knockout wins on her resume, the Canadian fighter has the power to finish Rousey on the feet, but she needs to keep the fight in striking range for an extended period of time to do that, something no women has been able to do against the defending champion.
While her chances may seem slim, Kaufman is more than capable of pulling off the upset on Saturday night. And as anyone who watches the sport will say, anything can happen in mixed martial arts.
1. How Will Ronda Rousey React To A Fight Lasting Longer Than One Round?
Five fights into her professional mixed martial arts career, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has defeated every foe placed before her, all by armbar submission, all in the first round. With devastating finishing skills, an undefeated MMA record and at only 25-years of age, Rousey is unquestionably the biggest star in female MMA and has already earned a world championship. A lot has been made of Rousey’s swift and decisive victories over her opponent, but even in victory, the same questions are repeatedly asked. What happens if Rousey’s fight goes longer than one-round? How is Rousey’s physical conditioning? Can she take a punch to the face? Will she be discouraged if she can’t submit her opponent? Does she have a back-up plan?
At this point, those questions have not needed answers, but Rousey has never fought an opponent with as much experience and skill as her opponent on Aug. 18, Sarah Kaufman. If Rousey is able to finish Kaufman in the first round, great for her. But once the clock passes the five-minute mark, that’s when things will truly get interesting.