Saturday night, MMA promotion Strikeforce will present a triple-header event in prime-time on free, network television as it once again comes to CBS network.

Last week I was privileged enough to get to participate in the conference call and interview three of the card’s competitors as well as the Strikeforce CEO, and it was very insightful.

On the April 17th show from Nashville, Tennessee there is a great triple main event that MMA fans should be looking forward to seeing, though they’d likely only recognize one of the names if they just watch UFC.

The headline of the event is rightfully the Middleweight Championship bout.  The reigning champion, Jake Shields, is currently on a 4.5 year winning streak during which he has improved his win-loss record with an additional 13 wins.  The stature in prominence of his opponent makes him seem like an underdog, though.  This fight features the Strikeforce debut of former UFC / Pride Champion / Olympic wrestler “Hendo” Dan Henderson, whose last fight ended with a hugely impressive knockout of Michael Bisping.

Although many are thinking that Dan Henderson will make a big splash in his Strikeforce debut and become champion once again, I have my doubts.  I think people don’t realize how talented some of Shields’ opponents have been, and they also fail to see that in the past few years, Dan Henderson has come up short each time he’s faced with an opportunity to win a championship.  He’s certainly capable of doing it, but I wouldn’t consider it a foregone conclusion as some might.  It should be a fantastic bout, though, as they’re both highly skilled in wrestling, both have striking skills, and Jake Shields might be looking to employ some of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expertise.

Stepping up a weight division is another fight I’m looking forward to seeing, as the Light Heavyweight belt is on the line when “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal challenges legend-in-the-making Gegard Mousasi.  The reigning champion hasn’t lost in over 3.5 years, and although you might not have heard of many of his opponents, you might want to go to YouTube or another online video site and look for Mousasi’s light-contact sparring session with MMA Legend Fedor Emelianenko, in which Mousasi more than holds his own.   “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal comes into this fight undefeated in MMA competition, and although he only has 6 professional fights to his credit, he’s highly accomplished in mat wrestling, and many I’ve talked to think that Lawal has a great chance of winning this fight.

Personally?  I appreciate what Mousasi is capable of too much to predict against him.

Perhaps the least anticipated fight of the main card for casual MMA fans will be the Lightweight Championship bout – which is actually a fight I’m looking forward to very much.  I’ve heard plenty great things about the challenger, Japanese legend Shinya Aoki – regularly ranked amongst the top MMA lightweights in the world.  Seeing his fights, you have to be impressed with his abilities.  The reigning champion, Gilbert Melendez, finds himself in a similar position to Jake Shields as a “golden underdog”.

Hearing Gilbert Melendez talk about the fight, you almost have to believe he’s got a great chance of winning.  As he talks about some of Shinya’s short-comings and the opportunities which past opponents have failed to capitalize on, you get the sense that Melendez has the gameplan to be victorious on Saturday night.  I especially like the fact that Gilbert has recently redeemed himself, defeating the only two opponents to ever get victories over him.

If the three championship fights aren’t enough to fill the entire time allotted on CBS, I would imagine that Strikeforce would televise the fight between “Mayhem” Jason Miller and Tim Stout, and I would suspect this would be an entertaining match no matter what happens.  “Mayhem” is one of the more entertaining fighters I’ve ever seen.

Check your local listings for time / channel.

An article is in the works to provide some information from the conference call for this event, providing a glimpse into the mindset of some of the top competitors on this card.