Continuing our Fight Week coverage, let's take a look at another match on the undercard of Strikeforce: Shields vs. Lawler.
Yesterday, it was Andrei Arlovski vs. Brett Rogers. Today, we profile another former UFC Heavyweight Champion—Kevin Randleman—against journeyman Mike Whitehead.
Kevin Randleman (17-12)
This will mark the first fight for Randleman since he won a unanimous decision win over Ryo Kawamura at Sengoku II in May 2008, and is just his third fight since October 2006. Yeah, that's a tad bit of inactivity there, but he's been battling various medical ailments.
The 37-year old returns to a major U.S.-based organization this Saturday for the first time since he left the UFC in early-2002.
The two-time Division I wrestling champion (Ohio State) gained notoriety with his multi-year run in the UFC, punctuated by a UFC Heavyweight title victory over Pete Williams at UFC 23 in November '99.
After successfully defending the gold against Pedro Rizzo at UFC 26, he lost the belt to some guy named Randy Couture at UFC 28. He ended his Octagon run with a loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 31 and a victory over Renato Sobral at UFC 35.
Randleman then headed to Japan for PRIDE where he competed against the best but lost most of his matches, going just 4-7 with defeats at the hands of Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko, Rampage Jackson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Mike Whitehead (23-7)
An alum of Season Two of The Ultimate Fighter, Mike Whitehead brings nearly a decade of experience into the cage this Saturday night. Mainly a regional fighter for most of his career, Whitehead got shots in the WEC in 2005 and had one UFC battle, a unan decision loss to Keith Jardine at UFC 57 in February 2006.
After that loss, Whitehead went on a 13-fight win streak that lasted over two years and included victories over Mark Kerr and Krzysztof Soszynski as part of a five-fight run in the defunct IFL.
After losing a unanimous decision to Renato Sobral at Affliction Banned last July, Whitehead submitted Leo Pla in the first round at last October's M-1 Challenge event.
Honestly, I have no idea who to favor here. Randleman has essentially been inactive for the past few years and has lost seven of his last 10 fights dating back to 2003. Most of those losses were in the first round and via submission.
The 27-year-old Whitehead has been active and has fought some guys of name value (Tim Sylvia twice, Jardine, Brandon Vera) and can win in a variety of fashions (48 percent of his wins have come via submission, 26 percent via KO). That doesn't sound like a good equation for the former UFC Heavyweight Champ.
Whitehead via first-round submission
Josh Nason - josh [at] ropesringandcage [dot com] - has published MMA, wrestling and boxing blog Ropes, Ring and Cage.com since 2007. He has been a contributor to Fight Magazine since January 2009 and Bleacher Report since 2008.