Delusional.  Un-American.  An idiot. Selfish.

Those are just some of the not-so-kind words that Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and challenger Ronda Rousey have lobbed at each other.  There is no love lost between these two ladies.  It might, in fact, be the biggest war of words leading up to a women’s fight in Strikeforce history.

The women are usually so civil, but not this time.

Tate doesn’t think Rousey, an Olympic medalist judoka with a 4-0 record fighting a weight class above the one in which she now challenges for the belt, deserves this opportunity yet.  She’s made no secret of her opinion, and Ronda likewise has made no secret of her distaste for Tate.

The two will finally get to settle their dispute in the cage come Saturday night.  Tate puts her belt on the line against Rousey in the headlining attraction of Strikeforce’s March 3 event in Columbus, Ohio.  The highly anticipated grudge match tops a card that sees veteran middleweights Scott Smith and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza take on up-and-comers Lumumba Sayers and Bristol Marunde respectively, Paul Daley return to the Strikeforce cage against Kazuo Misaki and lightweight contenders K.J. Noons and Josh Thomson make their cases for an opportunity to challenge Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez.

The action kicks off at 8 p.m. ET with the preliminary card airing on Showtime Extreme, followed by the main card at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

The MMA Corner staff member Garrett Derr joins the Round Table for the first time ever to debate the outcome of all five main card bouts with fellow panelists Josh Davis and Bryan Henderson.

MW: Lumumba Sayers (5-2) vs. Scott Smith (17-9)

Henderson: Scott Smith makes his return to 185 pounds following a disappointing shift to welterweight. Here to welcome him back to the middleweight ranks is Lumumba Sayers.

Sayers’ last outing also was spent welcoming a foe to the division. Turns out that Sayers, a fighter who usually finishes foes via submission, needed just 28 seconds to knock out Antwain Britt, a former light heavyweight making his middleweight debut.

Maybe that will foreshadow what’s to come when Smith returns to the weight class. Smith hasn’t won a fight since his 2009 upset of Cung Le. Since that victory, he has lost in a rematch against Le, and also dropped bouts to Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine. Smith is a striker who always moves forward and doesn’t really worry about the grappling elements of MMA.

Lumumba Sayers (Isaac Hinds/Sherdog)

Sayers holds an obvious advantage when this fight hits the mat. The key for him is to play it smart and not even attempt to stand with Smith, who can turn a fight around with a single punch. If Sayers sticks to a game plan that capitalizes on Smith’s weaknesses, I think he can turn this into another huge win to add to his resume. Sayers picks up a second-round submission in this one.

Derr: The Lumumba Sayers vs. Scott Smith matchup is in my opinion the most unpredictable bout of the evening.

It’s difficult to give either fighter the advantage, as while Smith hasn’t had his hand raised since his upset over Le, Sayers hasn’t fought the legitimate competition of Smith.

When action begins, fans in attendance can expect Sayers to attempt a variety of takedown attempts. If Sayers can capitalize on these opportunities, it’ll be difficult for Smith to overcome his submission skills.

However, as we’ve seen in past fights, Smith’s never quit, never give up attitude is hard to come by. While Sayers may put Smith on his back a time or two in the opening frame, I expect Smith to gain his first knockout victory since Strikeforce: Evolution in December of 2009. And this series of strikes will come near the end of round 2.

Davis: I have to agree with Bryan on this one as I believe Sayers will get the victory in this fight.

Smith is once again looking for his play in the world of MMA, but he is not going to find it in the cage with Sayers. Even though the majority of Sayers’ victories have come by way of submissions, he does have excellent striking with knockout power in both hands. In addition to his power, he has a punching speed that few people in the sport can match. Sayers will certainly be able to stand and trade punches with Smith until he can get this fight to the ground where he will have a significant advantage.

Smith, on the other hand, will need to win this fight on the feet. He is going to have to force Sayers to move backwards and not let him get in a rhythm. Smith will also have to use angles in with his striking and avoid Sayers’ power punches. If this fight goes to the ground, he can not get complacent trying to hold Sayers in guard. If he does, this could be a short fight.

Sayers is one of the top prospects in the division, and I look for this to be his true coming out party. Smith is no longer the fighter that he once was, but will still mark a signature victory for Sayers. Sayers wins this fight in the first round by TKO.

MW: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (14-3) vs. Bristol Marunde (12-6)

Derr: Ronaldo Souza and Bristol Marunde will square off in the second of two middleweight match-ups opening up the main card.

Marunde will finally meet his match as he’ll be taking on a world-class submission artist in Souza. If Marunde wants to hang around and live to see another day, he’ll want to avoid the ground game at all costs. Many consider Marunde’s submission skills to be above average, but that won’t be the case in his match-up with Souza. Marunde has been submitted in the past and won’t want to take that chance in one of the biggest fights of his MMA career.

Fans can expect Marunde to hold the advantage in the stand-up for obvious reasons. Souza has never knocked an opponent out in his long-lived career.

So, in a sense, this bout could be black and white. If Souza can put Marunde on his back, we can expect a submission victory for the Brazilian. On the flip side of things, if Marunde can stuff the takedown attempts and demonstrate an ability to remain on his feet, he could overwhelm Souza with a series of strikes, or find a way to last three rounds and await a judges’ decision.

Ronaldo Souza (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

In my opinion, the odds favor Souza.

Davis: Garrett is certainly correct when he says that the odds favor Souza. Souza will have a significant advantage if and when this fight gets to the ground and should have no problem in the striking game either. Souza’s bread and butter is certainly his world-class submission skills, but he has shown a much improved stand-up game in recent fights and should be able to exchange punches with Marunde.

Marunde is going to have his hands full with this fight. If this fight goes to the ground, he will have to do everything he can to get back to his feet. If he can not do this, Souza will have little problem submitting him. In order for him to get the victory, he is going to have to stand and trade with Souza and hope that he can catch him and get the knockout.

Souza has too many ways that he can win this fight, and he we will definitely capitalize on one of them. Souza wins by second-round submission.

Henderson: Souza has long been considered one of the top middleweights in the world, and prior to his loss to Luke Rockhold, Souza’s name often entered the conversation as one of the last legitimate challengers that could face Anderson Silva at 185 pounds.  Marunde has lost a third of his fights and went 1-4 in the IFL.  Can I just stop there and call this case closed?

Fine, I’ll say a few more words.

On the positive side, Marunde has shown more consistency over the last four years of his career, winning nine out of his last 10 outings.  His only loss in that time came against the 17-2-1 Jordan Smith.  So there’s some props to be given there.  Prior to that run, however, Marunde kicked off his career with a dismal 3-5 start.  That has to raise some red flags as Marunde prepares to battle a guy who, after losing his first pro fight to Jorge Patino, has only been defeated by Rockhold and Gegard Mousasi.

I’m with my colleagues here, it’s not really a question of who wins, but a question of how long it takes “Jacare” to win.  I’ll say the answer to that question is less than five minutes, as Souza secures a submission in the opening stanza of this contest.

WW: Paul Daley (29-11-2) vs. Kazuo Misaki (24-11-2)

Davis: What can you say about Paul Daley? There is no question that he is one of the best strikers and hardest hitters in the welterweight division, but he has never really been able to put everything together. Add to his post-fight sucker punch of Josh Koscheck the fact that he sometimes underachieves in competition and many people wonder why Daley still has a contract. The reason is that Daley is an exciting fighter and he always comes to fight. He will need to have that same mentality in this fight.

Daley once again will have a striking advantage in this fight, and he will need to make sure to keep this fight on the feet if he is going to come away victorious. Kazuo Misaki is a very well-rounded fighter and though he might not have the same striking capabilities of Daley, he will be able to compete. Misaki is the better overall fighter in this match-up, and if he can get past Daley’s strikes and get in close to work the clinch and his Judo, Daley will be in for a long night.

Paul Daley (Brian Townsend/Sherdog)

This fight has the makings to be one of the more exciting fights on the card, but in the end it will be Misaki that has his hand raised. Misaki wins this fight by second-round submission.

Henderson: While Misaki might have the more well-rounded game of the two fighters, I can’t say that I agree with Josh’s prediction on the outcome of this bout. The fact is that Misaki has had trouble with great strikers as of late, and if there’s one thing Daley does and does well, it’s strike.

Misaki’s last two losses came against Melvin Manhoef and Jorge Santiago. Both stopped Misaki with their fists – in Santiago’s case, it was a corner stoppage, while Manhoef needed less than two minutes to TKO Misaki.

As Josh indicated, Daley will need to keep this fight standing. If it goes to the ground, “Semtex” could be in danger. I think Daley will keep Misaki at bay for long enough to land a finishing blow. Daley wins this one in the first round via knockout or TKO.

Derr: In my opinion, Kazuo Misaki’s time is just about up as he’s been able to defeat mid-tier competition but nothing more.

In fact, the last time Misaki’s fought a legitimate opponent, it came against Melvin Manhoef and Jorge Santiago, like Bryan mentioned. Unfortunately for Misaki, Daley isn’t a subpar fighter and will have his number in the stand-up right from the get-go.

If Misaki can manage to take the fight to the ground, he’ll have a chance, but even that’s a big if.

I like Daley to control the majority of the fight on his feet for as long or short as that may be. Even though Daley hasn’t knocked an opponent out in over a year, he remains a dangerous threat.

I expect Misaki to battle through a lopsided round 1, but get finished in the second frame by TKO.

LW: K.J. Noons (11-4) vs. Josh Thomson (18-4)

Derr: Well, according to K.J. Noons, every time he fights, it’s a Fight of the Night. So, why should we expect anything different when he takes on Josh Thomson this Saturday evening?

However, would it be wrong to say Noons has lost some of his swagger? He entered the sport having knocked out seven opponents in his first seven wins. But since, Noons has won four times with just one coming by way of knockout.

This is where things get a little tricky as Thomson brings a whole new threat to the table. He’s fairly well-rounded, but his obvious strengths come in the submission aspect of the sport.

With that being said, Noons hasn’t been submitted in nearly 10 years! But, on the same side of the spectrum, Thomson hasn’t been knocked out in nearly eight years.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Something inside of me tells me we won’t see a finish at all despite both fighters usually coming out on top by way of a stoppage. Instead, I believe we’ll see a three-round battle that will be heading to the judges’ scorecards.

Josh Thomson (Knoxx Gear)

And when it does, I think we’ll see Noons’ hand raised by unanimous decision.

Henderson: This might be the toughest fight on the card for which to lay down a prediction. Thomson is a more well-rounded fighter indeed, but I can also see him as willing to stand with Noons, which could be a bad idea.

Both of these men are tough to finish and can hold their own even when taken out of their element. What I see, however, is a difference in the level of competition these men have been able to defeat. Although Noons holds a win over Nick Diaz, it came from a doctor’s stoppage due to a cut, and it came at a time before Diaz elevated his game to the highest level. Diaz has since avenged that loss, and Noons also came out on the losing end of a decision to the next best opponent he faced, Jorge Masvidal. Most of Noons’ wins come against opponents who play right into his game.

Meanwhile, Thomson has taken on the likes of JZ Cavalcante, Pat Healy and twice battled Gilbert Melendez, coming out on top once.

I like Thomson’s recent history against tougher competition. He’ll be a tough challenge for Noons, and one that pushes the boxer beyond his comfort zone. I think Thomson is scrappy enough to give Noons similar fits as those he experienced against Conor Heun. This should be a very entertaining back-and-forth fight, but I’ll lean the opposite way from Garrett and say the judges all side with Thomson for the decision win.

Davis: I have to agree that this might be the toughest fight to predict. Both fighters have numerous ways to win. There is no question that Thomson is the better all-around fighter in this match-up; the better question is whether Thomson is the better overall fighter.  Well, we will see this Saturday night.

Thomson is a very well-rounded fighter and can compete anywhere the fight goes. However, if he wants to take advantage of his strengths, he will want to get this fight to the ground and work his submission game. Thomson is a very solid striker and will certainly be able to hold his own against Noons, but the easier path to victory would be to get this fight to the mat.

Noons will want to turn this fight into a boxing match and capitalize on his superior striking. If he does this, it will force Thomson to go for a takedown and that is when the fight will really get interesting. Can Noons stop the takedown, and if he does get taken down, can he stop the submission skills of Thomson?

This is one of the fights that I look forward to most on this card, but I am expecting a lopsided victory. Noons has not been the dominant fighter he once was and he has shown numerous holes in his game. I look for Thomson to capitalize on these holes. Thomson wins this fight via unanimous decision.

Women’s BW Championship: Miesha Tate (12-2) vs. Ronda Rousey (4-0)

Henderson: Miesha Tate hasn’t been shy in expressing her opinion on whether or not Ronda Rousey deserves this title shot. I can’t say I disagree completely, but looking at the fact that Rousey, at just 4-0, picked up a win over fellow ranked 145-pounder Julia Budd, who sits at just 2-2, makes it evident that the pickings are slim when it comes to top female competitors.

Ronda Rousey (Austin Hargrave/Strikeforce)

I’d still like to have seen Rousey against a top 135-pounder prior to challenging for the Strikeforce belt, but Rousey’s wins have been dominant and impressive enough to where I can’t really fault Strikeforce for jumping at the chance to pair her against Tate.

In my opinion, Rousey still hasn’t really been tested. She has not gone past the 50-second mark in any of her four outings, and she’s finished all of her opponents via the same method. There’s no doubt that Tate has spent this camp drilling submission defense, primarily against armbars, non-stop.

Unlike Rousey’s past opponents, Tate is an elite competitor who is well versed on the ground. She likely will be the superior striker in this affair, and brings a high level of wrestling into this match-up. Her combination of skills and experience will push Rousey far beyond 50 seconds, and will test Rousey’s all-around game.

While I don’t think Rousey will fail that test miserably, I do think she’ll be humbled in this outing. Tate will show Rousey just how much tougher the competition is at the very top of the mountain. In the end, Tate’s wrestling, striking and her submission defense will give her the edge en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Davis: I have to agree with Bryan in the fact that Rousey is getting a title shot simply because there is nobody else for Tate to fight. Not to say that Rousey isn’t one of the top fighters in the division, but with only four fights under her belt and none leaving the first round, has she really proved that she is worthy of a title shot? I agree that she should have faced a top contender before getting a shot at Tate’s title.

Though she has only four professional MMA fights under her belt, Rousey has dominated her competition. Add that to her world-class Judo skills and Rousey is certainly a formidable opponent for Tate, one that should not be over looked. Rousey does have the tools and skills to win this fight, but she will be giving up a wealth of experience to Tate.

As Bryan stated, Tate has made it very clear that she does not believe that Rousey is worthy of a title shot, and though we might agree with her, Tate must stay focused on the task at hand, and that is defending her title. It won’t be enough for her to just show up and think that she is going to win. Tate will have a fight on her hands, but it is a fight that she should win.

Miesha Tate (Austin Hargrave/Strikeforce)

Tate is the much more experienced fighter and will have an advantage in almost every area that is not Judo or submissions. Tate will have the better striking, wrestling and grappling and should be able to use her strengths to dictate the pace of this fight and determine where the fight is going to take place. If Tate can stay focused and not get over confident, she should win this fight. Tate via unanimous decision.

Derr: Great points by Bryan and Josh, but when push comes to shove, Tate needs to forget about why Rousey has been given the title shot and focus on her skill set.

It will be interesting to see how Rousey reacts to the toughest opponent of her career as she has much less experience than Tate. But, when the opening bell rings, it’s likely we’ll see Rousey looking for the one and only armbar.

However, like Bryan has mentioned, that’s all we’ve really seen from Rousey so far. She’s fought in four bouts and all four have ended via armbar. So, unless Rousey wants to be exposed, she’ll need to avoid the striking of Tate early and often.

I think the longer the fight progresses, the more comfortable Rousey will get. But, at the same time, Tate has shown she can go the distance. In my opinion, Rousey’s back will be against the wall the majority of the fight.

Considering this will be a five-round affair, I don’t see Rousey making it out of the third or fourth round as she’s yet to prove she has the conditioning to outlast Tate for five consecutive rounds. Look for Tate to defend her title for the first time and leave the Nationwide Arena with a victory via TKO.

Top Photo: Ronda Rousey (L) and Miesha Tate (Austin Hargrave/Strikeforce)

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.