This weekend Strikeforce will treat us to a classic grappler vs. striker matchup in its main event on Saturday night. You have the grappler in Jake Shields moving up in weight to fight Robbie Lawler the striker. However, Lawler is actually moving down in weight to fight Shields at a catchweight. Lawler is coming off of two wars against Scott Smith with the first fight ending in a No Contest, and Lawler taking Smith out in the second fight. Shields is coming off a submission win against heavy handed Paul Daley. However, both fighters are coming off of very long layoffs with neither fighting during the past 7 months or more. Let's take a look at what both fighters bring to the table:
Robbie Lawler-Lawler will have the size advantage as well as a pretty big edge in striking when he faces off against Jake Shields on Saturday night. Lawler possesses devastating power in his strikes and hardly ever goes to a decision. He has 16 career wins and only 2 of those wins have come via decision. Lawler has a pretty good gas tank as well. Lawler was able to throw power shot after power shot at a torrid pace both times against Scott Smith. However, Lawler will be facing a very decorated grappler in Shields, and two of Lawler's career losses have come via submission(he has a submission loss to Pete Spratt but it was due to injury). The other factor is Lawler dropping down in weight to take this fight. Will the drop in weight affect Lawler negatively?
Jake Shields-I mentioned that Lawler will have the edge in size and in striking, but Shields will have a big edge on the ground if he can get it there. As I mentioned earlier, the majority of Lawler's losses have come via submission so it not out of the realm of possibility if this fight hits the ground. Shield's will be gaining weight to take this fight, but I don't think the weight gain will affect him too much. Shield's has fought and beaten larger fighters before i.e.(Yushin Okami).
The Verdict-I think Lawler's size and strength will be a big factor in this fight. Will Shields be able to get this fight to the ground? He will want to get this fight to the ground for sure. If we look back at the Paul Daley fight, Shields showed very little in the standup department. It's possible he's improved, but he will not will not want to stand with Lawler at all. I think Lawler will be very wary of Shield's wanting to take this fight to the ground. This fight could be similar to the Daley fight, but I think Lawler has better submission defense as well as takedown defense. I think Lawler keeps this fight standing and takes Shields out in the 2nd round.