Junior Seau hosts the Strikeforce press conference

Strikeforce's press conference at Seau's Restaurant in Mission Valley, San Diego, CA, Thursday, December 15, 2011. Photo: Jim Wyatt

On Thursday afternoon, the people from Showtime and Strikeforce were at Seau’s Restaurant in Mission Valley to hold a press conference to promote Saturday, December 17’s Mixed Martial Arts show at the Valley View Casino Center in Point Loma.


Eight headliners for Saturday’s grand event:

Gilbert Melendez (L) and Jorge Masvidal (R) will go at it on Saturday evening in Strikeforce's main event. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the main event, they’re featuring lightweight champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (19-2-0, 11 KOs) of San Francisco, CA defending his title against American Top Team’s Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (22-6-0, 10 KOs) from Miami, Florida.

Memorable quotes from the competitors: “Melendez, who stands 5’9” tall, was upbeat and broke everyone up when he answered a reporter’s question, “Who’s my #1 contender?” He then looked over at Cris Cyborg. “I suppose Cris Cyborg.” Then he got serious and praised Masvidal, “As far as styles go, he brings it all, every type with him, every aspect of fighting. And, he’s one of the biggest guys in the 155 pound weight class.”

Later that same day, a reporter from MMA Weekly tried to stir things up and paraphrased a Masvidal’s comment: “He said, ‘His hands are getting ready to deck you.’”

Melendez’s rejoinder: “I’m gonna take him to deep water and drown him.”

The 27 year-old Masvidal’s repartee: “For me, it’s just one more fight. For him, he better bring his best because I’m going to get in there and put a hurting on him.

I think his cardio stands out and his willingness to fight. His technique is not all there, he knows that too, and I think that’s why he relies on his aggressiveness, coming forward.”

In Saturday's Co-main event, Cris Cyborg Santos (L) will defend her 145 pound Strikeforce title against Hiroko Yamanaka. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Next came the Strikeforce women’s 145 pound champion 5’ 8” Cristiane Cyborg Santos (10-1-0) of Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA and Japan’s 5’ 11” Hiroko Yamanaka, (12-1-0) who is making her Strikeforce debut.

While Cyborg wore sneakers, Yamanaka wore these above the knee boots with some high heels. The choice of footwear was perhaps a prop to have Cyborg look up at her and feel intimidated. The 33 year-old heaped much praise on Cyborg who is 26 and talked about what an honor it was to fight her. Santos did the same.

Female MMA fans are hoping 2012 will be a lot better year than 2011 for Santos. Not because Santos lost, but because contract negotiations, opponent issues and the sale of Strikeforce kept her sidelined for approximately a year-and-a-half.

Saturday’s contest will be her first since June, 2010 when she knocked out Jan Finney with a knee to the body in the second round. Before that, she took out Marloes Coenen via a third round TKO in January 2010 in her first title defense, and before that, she won Strikeforce’s first female featherweight championship with a first round TKO of Gina Carano in August 2009.

Starting with Hitomi Akano in April 2009, “Cyborg” has knocked out every woman placed in front of her. Her strength and punching power has overwhelmed opponents almost to the point that it seemed unfair, as if it was a woman fighting a girl.

Unlike other women boxers and mixed martial artists, Cyborg is not afraid to take a few punches in order to give a few back. It’s as though she believes no woman can hurt her. Since she’s so young, 26, they say she should reign as champion for many years to come.

How will Hiroko Yamanaka fair? She does have that significant height advantage and as the former Smackgirl open weight champion, she’s won her last eight fights.

Another thing to consider is the fact Yamanaka has been more active. She’s fought five times while Cyborg has only fought twice over the past two years.

On the downside, her entire career has been fought in Japan. Not only will this be her first fight for Strikeforce, it will be her first fight in the United States. Even though she’s well-rounded, she’s not spectacular in any one phase and most of her wins have come by decision.

Light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi (31-3-2) of Holland (L) is set to go against the ex-football player Ovince St-Preux (11-4) (R). Photo: Jim Wyatt

Next they have the #9 ranked light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi (31-3-2) of Holland going up against the ex-football player Ovince St-Preux (11-4).

The 26 year-old, Mousasi remains one of the best in his class, but he’ll have his hands full when facing St. Preux. Preux is undefeated under the Strikeforce banner, holding a perfect 5-0 record, and is currently riding an eight-fight win streak. In his last outing, he took on fellow prospect Joe Cason, blitzing the heavy hitter to earn the submission due to strikes.

As far as laughs go: a reporter had everyone chuckling when he asked a question and in that question he quoted Dana White. Not wanting to curse, he asked the attendees to add the proper expletives.

And K. J. Noons (10-4-0, 1 KO) of The Arena in San Diego and Billy Evangelista (11-1-0 4 KOs) of American Kickboxing Academy (Team Buhawe) in Fresno, CA. will go at it.

Noons made reference to his losing streak of losing two in a row, “You’re probably wondering why I dressed up. Simple, it was to beat my opponent. With the way things are going, I figured I should at least beat him once.”

Just guessing! With the stunning Ms. Yamanaka sitting next to him, Jorge Masvidal appears to be intent about keeping his eyes front. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Then in this photo, we see Ms. Yamanaka, perhaps smitten by the handsome Mr. Masvidal, giving him a look out of the corner of her eyes. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Confident, happy couple Cris and Evangelista Cyborg Santos pose for a photo at Thursday's press conference. Photo: Jim Wyatt


The (non-televised) Preliminary Bouts:

Justin Wilcox vs. Caros Fodor
Jerron Peoples vs. Roger Bowling
Devin Cole vs. Gabriel Salinas-Jones
Fernando Gonzalez vs. Eddie Mendez
Herman Terrado vs. Chris Brown

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