Quick Hits for Strikeforce: Payback

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Like the Strikeforce show at the playboy mansion, this card isn’t going to set anyone’s pants on fire, but it features a surprising number of ‘name’ fighters and it’s an excellent popcorn event if you have HDnet (buy it if you don’t) and nothing else to do Friday. On a completely unrelated note, if there are any deliciously nubile young women reading this, I am single.

In any case, There are a few fights to watch for fans of some of the former UFC fighters, and a couple betting opportunities.

Duane “Bang” Ludwig (-370) vs. Sammy Morgan (+350)

This is a rematch of Morgan’s hilarious victory over Ludwig, where morgan basically walked over and punched Duane in the face. Perhaps Sammy was trying to offer an object lesson in Ludwig’s greatest shortcoming as a fighter: he’s a very good striker, but he has a questionable chin. The defining fight of Morgan’s career, for me, was his laughable obliteration at the hands of Forrest Petz. From a trivia standpoint, I believe the scorecards on that fight were a tie for the most lopsided 3-round decision in UFC history, matched only by the abyss that was Kalib Starnes vs. Nate Quarry. Yes, Morgan’s performance was that bad. I seriously recommend anyone who hasn’t seen that fight pick it up, if you have the means.

Ever since having his brains scrambled in that fight, Morgan has become a one-dimensional banger that just wildly storms about the ring throwing hays, until he gasses after about 6 minutes. If Duane can avoid getting in the way of these antics, he should be able to pick his shots and put Morgan to sleep without too much fuss. This fight should be sound and fury, signifying nothing. Duane Ludwig by KO round 2.

I think these odds are just about right. Morgan’s previous victory has many people taking him at these underdog odds, but Duane isn’t just going to collapse against everyone he fights that can punch, weak chin or not. I will remind readers that the man absolutely murdered Jens Pulver and Charles Bennet, both of whom have more to offer than Morgan in terms of punching power and general talent.

Frank Trigg (-240) vs. Falaniko Vitale (+220)

It’s good to see the always colorful Frank Trigg in the ring again, although I’m surprised to see Niko Vitale fighting outside of Hawaii. Trigg has good wrestling, decent boxing, and good power in his hands. The guy is a well-rounded, very solid fighter, even if he’s not going to beat GSP anytime soon. That’s why I’m surprised to see he’s only moderately favored over Falaniko, who is primarily a grappler. Trigg has, in the past, simply spaced out and given up a submission (as against Carlos Condit) but most of his submission losses come from fighters that positionally dominated him (Hughes x2, GSP) and outwrestled him until he Trigg couldn’t handle it anymore.

For perspective, remember the last time Frank Trigg fought a fan-favorite Hawaii-based fighter with a grappling background, mediocre wrestling, and serviceable standup? It was Mayhem Miller, and Trigg curb-stomped his face off. And Miller is a far superior fighter to Niko. Frank Trigg via TKO round 2.

At -260, I think Frank Trigg’s skill set is being undervalued, especially given that his losses have been to very talented fighters and champions, and he seems to be an even better fighter at 185 pounds. I think this is a very good play, for two units.

Pete Spratt (-113) vs. Donnie Liles (+103)

Spratt is a phenomenal athlete with violent traditional muay thai and boxing skills that washed out of the UFC and was generally relegated to journeyman status because he can’t wrestle very well and has serious, serious problems with his ground game. He’s one of those fighters that’s living proof that no matter how gifted you are in one area of the game, or how hard you work, some people just will never be great at the aspects of MMA that don’t come naturally to them.

On paper, Liles grappling background and submission wins represent a real threat to Spratt. However, the general ‘quality’ gap is just too great for Liles to realistically overcome. Spratt can do a phenomenal amount of damage to his opponent, with very fast and brutal leg and head kicks as well as powerful hands. Liles will have trouble simply surviving on the feet, and dealing with the explosive power of Spratt. Pete Spratt by Headkick round 2.

Again, while many people think Liles is a smart pick because of the possibility of a submission, I think Spratt is simply too quality of a fighter not to be the right side of this line at close to even odds. The risk of him falling into a submission is there, but it’s not anywhere close to 50/50. I have a unit on him at -120

My Plays:
1u Pete Spratt at -120
2u Frank Trigg at -260

General Public Prediction Record
Public Bet History

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