Gesias Cavalcante has not won back-to-back fights in nearly five years, but his reputation nevertheless precedes him.
In what some might describe as a nod to his heyday, more than nine out of 10 players -- 92 percent to be exact -- in the Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game expect “JZ” to defeat Isaac Vallie-Flagg in their preliminary lightweight battle at Strikeforce “Barnett vs. Cormier” on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Cavalcante has not competed since July, when he captured a split decision from Bobby Green at Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Henderson.” A two-time K-1 Hero’s grand prix winner, the 28-year-old Brazilian has delivered 12 of his 16 professional victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Wins over 2009 Sengoku featherweight grand prix finalist Michihiro Omigawa, reigning Dream featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 semifinalist Nam Phan, four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Vitor Ribeiro and 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Rani Yahya dot his resume.
Anchored at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts, Vallie-Flagg will carry a 10-fight unbeaten streak into the cage. He last fought in June, when he eked out a split verdict against Brian Melancon at Strikeforce “Overeem vs. Werdum.” All three of Vallie-Flagg’s defeats have come via first-round submission.
Other Pick’Em trends for the Strikeforce “Barnett vs. Cormier” prelims:
• A hefty 92 percent of pickers have placed their faith in Gian Villante’s hands, as he collides with American Top Team’s Derrick Mehmen. Villante, a former Ring of Combat champion, has won his last two fights over Keith Berry and Trevor Smith;
• Undefeated promotional newcomer Carlos Augusto Filho will enter his light heavyweight tilt with Virgil Zwicker as the man to beat, according to 76 percent of participants. An Imperial Athletics representative, “Guto Inocente” has finished all five of his opponents, three of them by submission;
• More than seven out of 10 of users (71 percent) expect unbeaten welterweight prospect Yuri Villefort to score a seventh consecutive victory at the expense of Quinn Mulhern. Villefort, 21, has gone the distance only once as a professional;
• A strong 69 percent of players favor James Terry in his lightweight duel with Bobby Green. Terry, a protégé of former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le, will look to record his fifth win in his past seven outings.