Just 13 months ago, Fedor Emelianenko was thought to be invincible.  His fans would likely have debated whether “The Last Emperor” could stop a freight train in its tracks, or defeat a grizzly bear in hand-to-paw combat.  But that was 13 months ago.

Now, the man who could not lose will try to snap a two-fight skid when he steps into the Strikeforce cage on July 30 to face fellow Pride legend Dan Henderson.  While Henderson is closing in on his 41st birthday, he’s enjoying much more success than the Russian, who happens to be six years his junior. “Hendo” is the reigning Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and has won five of his last six outings.  Now, he has a chance to step up to the heavyweight division and conquer the man who, in many people’s eyes, still ranks as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.

Can Henderson bump Fedor’s losing streak to three fights, or will Emelianenko regain his footing and give his loyal fans a reason to celebrate?

The answer will come on Saturday night at the Sears Centre Arena outside of Chicago, as the two legends clash in the main event of “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.”

Emelianenko isn’t the only one on the card with something to prove, though.

Miesha Tate would like nothing more than to silence her doubters with a win over champion Marloes Coenen in the women’s welterweight title bout.  Paul Daley seeks to rebound from a welterweight title loss against Nick Diaz, but he’ll have his hands full with a young prospect in Tyron Woodley, who is climbing the ladder towards title contention himself and sees Daley as the final obstacle in his path.  Meanwhile, middleweights Tim Kennedy and Robbie Lawler battle for an opportunity to get back in line for a title shot against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who has handed both men a recent defeat.  And rounding out the main card, which airs live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET, will be a clash between welterweights Tarec Saffiedine and Scott Smith, as Smith struggles to stay relevant in the promotion following three losses in his last four outings.

It’s a stacked show, so much so that lightweights Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante and Bobby Green will fight on the preliminary card.

But not to worry, as The MMA Corner’s panel of Bryan Henderson, Rob Tatum and new staff writer Elliot Tiernay will voice their opinions on that featured preliminary card matchup, as well as all five main card fights, in this edition of the Round Table.

LW: Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante (15-4-1) vs. Bobby Green (15-4)

Tatum: After an injury forced Lyle Beerbohm out of this lightweight contest, King of the Cage lightweight (and former junior welterweight) champ Bobby Green has been tabbed to make his Strikeforce debut sooner than expected.  Green was originally slated to face Milton Vieira at Strikeforce Challengers 18.

Gesias Cavalcante (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Green’s reward for stepping up on short notice?  None other than two-time K-1 Hero’s tournament champ Cavalcante.  The Brazilian has fallen on tough times of late, dropping three of six fights, but all were against consensus top-ranked competition.  In fact, of his four career losses, all have come by decision.

While the well-rounded Green may have posed a problem for Vieira, he won’t be much more than cannon-fodder for “JZ.”  Look for a highlight reel knockout from the former top-ten lightweight, as Cavalcante makes a run toward the Strikeforce lightweight belt.

Henderson: Green is in for a rude welcome to the big show.  While he has held King of the Cage titles and comes in with a solid prospect’s record, he just hasn’t proven himself against the level of competition he’ll face when he squares off with “JZ.”

My big concern with Cavalcante is his inconsistency since 2008.  While he stormed through opponents from 2004 to 2008, with only a loss to Joachim Hansen and a draw against Ryan Schultz preventing him from achieving a perfect record, he has managed just one win, three losses and two no-contests in the time since.  That is cause for some concern.

At the same time, Cavalcante’s three losses in that span have come against Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki and Josh Thomson.  And he took all three of those top lightweights the distance.

While I do have my doubts about Cavalcante’s ability to make a true run at the title, I don’t doubt that he can overcome Green.  Green will put up a good fight, but “JZ” will just be too much for him.  I look for Cavalcante to score a TKO midway through the fight.

Tiernay: In the final preliminary bout of the evening, both Cavalcante and Green are in need of a win in Strikeforce’s lightweight division.  In Calvalcante’s last six fights, he’s gone a depressing 1-3-2, where his only win came by split decision over Katsunori Kikuno at the Dream 15 show.  His two no-contests came by way of accidental eye poke against Justin Wilcox and illegal elbow against Shinya Aoki.  Tough road for “JZ” since March of 2008.

Green, on the other hand, is coming off a win, but as Bryan said, he’s in for a rude awakening back to the big show against a highly decorated kickboxer in Cavalcante.  Green’s last appearance in a major promotion came at the Affliction: Day of Reckoning show in 2009 where he lost to Dan Lauzon, so we’ll see how he performs under the big lights.  Both Green and Cavalcante are 15-4, and look for someone to go 15-5 quickly, as I don’t think this fight will last that long.  My prediction is that, with JZ’s time fighting in front of bigger audiences, he will put the pressure on Green quickly and will earn a first-round TKO.

WW: Tarec Saffiedine (10-3) vs. Scott Smith (17-8)

Scott Smith (James Law/MMA Fighting)

Henderson: It’s the battle of the guys who are looking to bounce back from losses to the guys who are likely fighting for top contender status later in the evening.  Saffiedine’s last outing ended in a loss to Tyron Woodley, while Smith lasted just over two minutes before he was rendered unconscious courtesy of Paul Daley’s fists.  For Saffiedine, the loss snapped a three-fight winning streak and represented his first setback under Strikeforce’s banner, but Smith is in a worse predicament.  While always dangerous due to his knockout power, he has now lost three out of his last four and needs a win to stay relevant.

Saffiedine had a good run going before meeting up with a superior wrestler in Woodley.  With only one win by form of knockout versus five via submission, we know where Saffiedine wants to take this fight.  That’s a wise decision against someone with the one-punch power that Smith packs.  Smith made his name via a surprise knockout and has managed to land a number of big fights based off of his entertaining style and never-say-die spirit.  The only problem is that he’s a brawler who always seeks to land that one big shot.

Saffiedine’s key here is to stay smart.  If he can avoid being drawn into a slugfest by Smith, he should have this one wrapped up.  Saffiedine’s wrestling will put Smith in a position where his “Hands of Steel” will be relatively useless.  Once Smith is on his back, he’ll have little answer for Saffiedine, who will lock in a submission sooner or later for the win.

Tiernay: With both of these fighters coming off at least one loss, the journeyman Smith, who’s fought all over the MMA circuit, looks to take on the 24-year-old grappling specialist Saffiedine.

Tarec Saffiedine (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Since Smith woke up from a vicious KO by Daley in his last fight, he wanted to take some time off to improve his overall MMA skills so he could come back to his next fight more focused.  His opponent, the Belgian Saffeidine, looks to get back in the win column after losing to Woodley by unanimous decision.

With this fight kicking off the main card, look for Saffeidine to try and take the brawler Smith down, where Smith wants to keep it standing.  Smith does have a solid wrestling base, but I think Saffeidine will be able to capitalize once the brawler gets reckless and he’ll take Smith down and earn himself a second-round submission.

Tatum: Smith has managed to remain a fan favorite throughout the years by going for broke no matter who he is facing.  His comeback wins against Pete Sell, Benji Radach and Cung Le are things of legend.  However, his style has left him laying face first on the canvas a number of times, most recently against Daley.

Against Saffiedine, Smith won’t have to worry about getting knocked out, but he will have to find a way to keep the fight upright against the Belgian.  Smith’s striking skills and heart are hard to criticize, but it is the rest of his game that needs attention.

Saffiedine will have one thing on his mind from the opening bell: Put Smith on his back  As my fellow panelists have mentioned, this is how to avoid the danger in Smith’s hands and make him uncomfortable.  I look for the Belgian to grind out a decision that will likely send Smith looking for a new promotion.

WW: Paul Daley (27-10-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (8-0)

Paul Daley (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

Tiernay: With the Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz vacating the title to challenge George St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight championship at UFC 127, the Strikeforce welterweight picture is currently a little foggy.  This fight may decide the next No. 1 contender. Either way, this fight has a lot on the line for whoever comes out on the winning end.

After the announcement was made that Evangelista Santos had to pull out of the fight with Daley due to an injury, Strikeforce called on undefeated hot prospect Tyron Woodley.  Woodley, now 8-0 with six of his wins under the Strikeforce banner, he takes on his toughest opponent yet in Paul Daley.  A standout wrestler at the University of Missouri, Woodley’s wrestling pedigree has been his bread and butter, but he has shown his improved standup/clinch work most recently in his last fight against Tarec Saffiedine, where the Mizzou wrestler won by unanimous decision.  If Woodley is able to get past Daley, his “I Got Next” T-Shirt may be the right shirt to throw on.

On April 9, Daley and Nick Diaz put on a potential Fight of the Year performance for the Strikeforce welterweight championship, with Daley coming out on the losing end.  Though Daley dropped Diaz twice in the first round, Diaz got back to his feet and, after a brief exchange, clipped Daley and that was all she wrote with just three seconds left in the first round, as the referee stopped the fight.   After the unfortunate Koscheck incident, Daley had gone on a four-fight winning streak with KO victories over Scott Smith and Yuya Shirai. Daley looks to get back to his winning ways and earn another opportunity at the Strikeforce welterweight gold. “Semtex” is now 27-10-2 and his kryptonite tends to be against wrestlers. It is probably no secret what Woodley’s gameplan is.

Tyron Woodley (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

That gameplan is to take Daley down and grind out a win, where Daley wants to keep it standing.  I think Daley’s experience will be the deciding factor depending on if he comes in prepared and in shape.  This fight will either end early with a “Semtex Bomb” or go to a decision with Woodley’s hand raised and a frustrated Daley.  I can already hear Daley’s smacktalk when Woodley is laying on top of him.  Something inside tells me that Daley will be able to catch Woodley on one of his takedowns and get a second-round TKO.

Tatum: Elliot pretty much covered all the scenarios surrounding this fight, but I’ll have to disagree on the outcome.  Daley flat out cannot wrestle.  Or grapple for that matter.  When someone is brave enough to stand with him, he has some of the most dangerous hands in the sport, but I don’t see Woodley going that route.

I look for Woodley to put Daley on his back repeatedly, smothering him from the top, and keeping his perfect record intact.  The unanimous decision win will propel the former Missouri wrestler toward a shot at the vacant welterweight belt.

Henderson: I have to second Rob’s opinion.

Woodley stumbled a bit against Nathan Coy, and Coy exposed some elements of Woodley’s game.  However, Daley doesn’t have the appropriate skill set to take advantage of those holes.  For Daley, it’s all about the stand-up.  Stand with him, and you might find yourself staring up at the ceiling sooner rather than later.  But force him into a grappling-heavy fight, and his one-dimensional game suffers.

Woodley’s wrestling background makes him the perfect candidate to do exactly what is needed to come out the victor over “Semtex.”  Unless Woodley has a Martin Kampmann moment, we’re looking at a wrestling and grappling clinic here.  Woodley had a lot of submission success early in his career, but he probably won’t want to risk committing to anything that allows Daley the chance to scramble back to his feet.

Woodley will stay active and attempt submissions only when the risk of losing position is low.  In the end, his wrestling dominance will earn him the decision.

MW: Tim Kennedy (13-3) vs. Robbie Lawler (18-7)

Robbie Lawler (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

Tatum: In a fight that might very well steal the show, middleweights “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and former Army Ranger Tim Kennedy collide.  The former title challengers have both dropped fights to current Strikeforce champ Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

This fight is truly a toss up.  If Kennedy can get the fight to the ground, he will have an edge.  Lawler, while possessing solid takedown defense, is not the best fighter from his back.  But Kennedy is going to have to avoid the dynamite in Lawler’s left hand.  It has spelled the end for Matt Lindland and Melvin Manhoef in the last year and a half.

The bottom line is that Kennedy has never been knocked out, and that’s Lawler best chance at victory.  While he will land some big shots, I see Kennedy using his wrestling to take at least two rounds on the judges’ scorecards and take home a decision win.

Tiernay: I agree with Rob’s analysis.  Lawler possesses that one-punch KO power to take anybody out, granted Kennedy’s chin which can take a beating.  Kennedy has that warrior type of mentally to persevere through tough battles, especially when training out of Jackson’s Submission Fighting.  Kennedy will use his wrestling and clinch work to tire out the heavy-handed veteran Lawler.  Kennedy cannot afford to take a chance with Lawler’s power and I see the Army Veteran winning by split decision.

Henderson: When I think of Lawler’s chances in a fight, I can’t help but reflect back on his performance against Jake Shields.

Tim Kennedy (James Law/MMA Fighting)

Shields didn’t even have to take Lawler down to defeat him, locking in a standing guillotine choke for the finish.  It just helps to illustrate the holes in Lawler’s game.  Trade with the striker, and you risk getting knocked out.  Avoid staying at arm’s length, and you might not even have to take the HIT Squad fighter down to finish him.

That brings us to his opponent, who has the perfect game to capitalize on Lawler’s weaknesses.  While Kennedy is a solid striker in his own right, he has proven that he can swarm an opponent and quickly find a way to submit him.  Just ask Trevor Prangley.

Kennedy is confident enough on his feet, but he’s also smart enough to know where he needs to take this fight.  Look for him to constantly close the distance and wrap Lawler up in clinches and takedown attempts.  Somewhere along the way, either standing or on the ground, Kennedy will take Lawler’s back and secure a rear-naked choke to finish the fight.

Women’s WW (135-pound) Championship: Marloes Coenen (19-4) vs. Miesha Tate (11-2)

Marloes Coenen (James Law/MMA Fighting)

Tiernay: With the women’s welterweight championship on the line for the co-main event, Coenen looks to defend her belt for the second time against new challenger Miesha “Takedown” Tate.  Coenen comes off an impressive submission performance against Liz Carmouche by fourth-round triangle choke.  Though Tate was originally scheduled to face Coenen when Carmouche stepped in, Tate unfortunately suffered a knee injury forcing her off the card a week and a half prior to the bout.  After sitting for four months on the sidelines, Tate looks to finally get herself an opportunity at the gold after winning the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight tournament.  Tate went on a five-fight winning streak with three of those wins coming under the Strikeforce banner.

Though I really look at this fight as a “pick-em” fight and my pick for Fight of the Night, I keep going back and forth with who I think will win.  In the back of my mind, Tate’s knee injury seems to linger as she has not fought in over 11 months and the ring rust may effect her both physically and mentally.  Coenen, on the other hand, has stayed active, fighting twice since Tate’s last performance.

They are both very decorated in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which I think will cancel each other out. I think Coenen will be able to effectively use her Muay thai and standup and keep the fight at her pace. I hope this fight benefits women’s MMA the most, as we are looking at two of the best female 135’ers out there.  The girls will tie the cornrows back, and touch gloves in the middle of the cage to prepare for war.  Coenen wins by unanimous decision and keeps the belt.

Henderson: This is a very intriguing match-up.  Both ladies have been at or near the top of the highest profile divisions in women’s MMA for some time now, both have excellent ground games and decent striking.  So, what’s the deciding factor?

It’s hard to say.  Tate will bring the superior wrestling base, but she might be hesitant to test Coenen’s submission skills.  Meanwhile, despite an even amount of knockout/TKO wins for both women, I’d have to give the defending champ the slight edge in the standup due to her time spent training with the Golden Glory camp.

Miesha Tate (James Law/MMA Fighting)

Carmouche put Coenen in a lot of bad spots during their matchup, and it’s not a stretch to expect Tate to follow that blueprint.  In the end, Tate will be confident enough to use her wrestling and pursue a similar strategy to that of Carmouche.  Unfortunately for the new addition to Team Alpha Male, Coenen’s composure on the ground will shine through once again, as the champ manages to defend her title with a late submission finish of Tate.

Tatum: I think Bryan pretty much nailed this one.  I fully expect Tate to showcase her superior wrestling skills and force Coenen to work off her back for most of the fight.  The problem for Tate is that Coenen is more than at home on the ground.

I don’t think you’ll see much standup in this fight.  Coenen will have the edge, training with Golden Glory in Holland, but Tate will look for a spot to shoot and take the fight to the mat.  As Coenen proved against both Carmouche and former champ Sarah Kaufman, give her enough time to work and she will take home a limb or choke you unconscious.

In an entertaining fight, Tate will win a couple of rounds, but ultimately, Coenen will remain queen of the division and keep her belt by an armbar late in the fourth round.

HW: Fedor Emelianenko (31-3) vs. Dan Henderson (27-8)

Henderson: Fedor on a two-fight skid.  Who would ever have imagined, just 13 months ago, that we’d be uttering those words?  But it’s true.  And I think it’s a fact that can’t be overlooked in this encounter between the legendary former Pride heavyweight champion and another former Pride titleholder in Henderson.

Fedor did not suffer a couple of fluke one-punch knockouts in his losses.  He practically hopped into the triangle of submission specialist Fabricio Werdum and he was battered by the much larger Antonio Silva.  The question of Fedor’s desire has to be brought up.  “The Last Emperor” has mentioned retirement numerous times and has not worked in training to adapt and evolve. He’s making mental mistakes and is watching the big men of the division improve while he seemingly stands still.

For once, however, Fedor will hold a size advantage in a fight.  Henderson plans on weighing in just heavy enough to meet the requirements for this fight.  That might be the best thing Fedor has going for him.  He won’t be bullied around like he was against Silva and he surely won’t sweat Henderson’s submission skills either.  Fedor will still have to fend off Hendo’s clinch game and avoid the wrestler’s heavy right hand, but he won’t also have to deal with a twenty-pound-plus weight disadvantage.

Dan Henderson (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

Still, it all comes back to desire, in my opinion.  Henderson has competed against bigger men in his days with Pride and Rings, so stepping into the cage against a small heavyweight shouldn’t pose a problem for the Team Quest fighter.  His desire is still strong, as he has stated that he believes he has at least five more fights in him prior to retirement.  While Fedor dabbles in politics and flirts with calling it a career, Henderson appears focused and ready to win.

This will be a competitive fight, but Henderson will press Fedor with his clinch work and wrestling.  It’ll be enough to earn him a unanimous decision over the Russian.

Tatum: Although this fight is happening about six or seven years later than it should have, it’s hard not get excited to see the two legends face one another.  Regardless of Fedor’s recent struggles against Werdum and Silva, he is still one of the greatest MMA fighters to walk the planet.  And while Henderson may not have been able to maintain the momentum he built as Pride came to a close and was absorbed by the UFC, the current Strikeforce light heavyweight champ is going strong at age 40.

Both fighters have heavy right hands to compliment their strong grappling games, but Hendo tends to fall in love with his and start headhunting.  That strategy may doom him against Fedor.  As Bryan mentioned, this is a rare occasion where Fedor will have a size advantage.  And while Hendo has the more decorated wrestling history, you cannot ignore Fedor’s elite sambo base.  Neither fighter has been truly knocked out, so even with the power in their hands, I don’t think we will see the fight end that way.

I hate to sound like someone living in the past, but I honestly believe that you’ll see a focused Fedor win this fight with an armbar.  Hendo has fallen victim to both Nogueira brothers in the past by the submission and Fedor possesses six career wins by it.  Queue the fan boy vindication.

Tiernay: “The Last Emperor” has lost two in a row, Pride FC’s unbeaten superstar has been beaten, Dana White’s best friend… well maybe not so much the last one.  Fedor Emelianenko was eliminated in the first round of the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament courtesy of Antonio Silva, as he could not continue due to the damage done to his eye, and I never though I’d say this, but he looks to keep his job with Strikeforce with a win.

A lot is on the line for Fedor, and the guys above have covered most of the history leading up to this fight.  Henderson, on the other hand, is the current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and is taking a fight that he’s always dreamed of.  Fireworks are set to go off on Saturday with these two legends of the sport.

Fedor definitely will have the size advantage, and Henderson will have the wrestling advantage.  I think this will be the most motivated we will see the Russian and I hope he brings back his “Era Enae Volare” music because we all know how epic that is.  Call me a Fedor lover, but I think this is the right fight for the Last Emperor, and a big name for him to get back on track.  Fedor by decision.

Top Photo: Fedor Emelianenko (James Law/MMA Fighting)