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Strikeforce Preview: Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Lindland

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Can Matt "The Law" Lindland win his second in a row when he meets "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler this weekend at "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu?" <em>Photo by Esther Lin/Strikeforce</em>
Can Matt "The Law" Lindland win his second in a row when he meets "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler this weekend at "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu?" Photo by Esther Lin/Strikeforce

Two fighters looking to work their way back to a title shot meet when hometown favorite Robbie Lawler meets Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland on Saturday at "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu" at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Robbie Lawler:

Record: 17-6-0 overall (1 NC), 1-2 Strikeforce

Key wins: Joey Villasenor (PRIDE 32), Frank Trigg (Icon Sport: Epic), Murilo Rua (EliteXC: Uprising)

Key losses: Pete Spratt (UFC 42), Nick Diaz (UFC 47) Jason Miller (Icon Sport: Mayhem vs. Lawler), Jake Shields (Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields)

How he got here: A one-time phenom of the sport, Robbie Lawler has struggled since the demise of EliteXC, where he was the middleweight champion. Lawler has gone 1-2 in Strikeforce, sandwiching a win against Melvin Manhoef in between losses to Jake Shields and Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Lawler gained notoriety for his UFC run, going 4-3. It was his shocking losses to Pete Spratt and Nick Diaz that sent Lawler on a tizzy and eventually out of the UFC. Lawler's career has been marked by inconsistency, especially in this latest run in Strikeforce.

How he gets it done: To put it lightly: Lawler is a knockout artist. Of his 17 wins, 14 have come by KO or TKO with one submission and two decisions. Lawler has stopped his last nine opponents with eight coming by KO or TKO. His knockout of Manhoef in January is a candidate for "Knockout of the Year."

Matt Lindland:

Record: 22-7-0 overall, 1-1 Strikeforce

Key wins: Phil Baroni (UFC 34, UFC 41), Jeremy Horn (IFL: Portland)

Key losses: Murilo Bustamante (UFC 36), David Terrell (UFC 49), Quinton Jackson (WFA: King of the Streets), Fedor Emelianenko (Bodog Fight: Clash of the Nations), Vitor Belfort (Affliction: Day of Reckoning), Ronaldo Souza (Strikeforce: Evolution)

How he got here: A long-time veteran of the sport, Matt Lindland has competed in many of the major American organizations, including a long run in the UFC. For all his experience, though, Lindland has never quite been able to come through when it mattered most, losing a vast majority of his biggest fights. Lindland is one of the few modern UFC fighters who can claim to be cut following a win (two of them, in fact) when he was not brought back following a lackluster decision win over Joe Doerksen at UFC 54. Since leaving the UFC (where many thought of him as the uncrowned middleweight champion), Lindland has fought all over the world, but three fights stick out: His split decision loss to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in 2006, his 2007 submission loss to Fedor Emelianenko and his 2009 devastating knockout loss to Vitor Belfort. At 40-years old, Lindland is on the downside of his career and beating Lawler would mark one of the biggest wins of his career.

How he gets it done: A ground-and-pound fighter, Lindland's style is not pretty, but it often is effective. Of his 22 career wins, eight have come by TKO, seven by submission, six by decision and one by disqualification. When Lindland loses, it tends to happen fast. Of the three times he's been knocked out, all three have come within two minutes. Of his three submission losses, two have come in the first round, albeit those came against Emelianenko and "Jacare" Souza.

Bottom line: I'll put this in simple terms: If Lindland has a chance at winning, he absolutely has to get this fight to the ground. Otherwise, he'll be picked apart by the powerful Lawler. Lawler, though, sometimes doesn't fight the smart fight and that could haunt him here. Even at 40, I think this fight favors Lindland the longer it goes. If Lawler had the aggression of a Belfort, I'd make him the pick here. This is a close fight and I see Lindland taking a unanimous decision. I don't feel comfortable with it, though.

Who do you think's going to win? Let us know in the poll and express why in the comments section!

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