Friday, 15 April 2011

Looking Back At Strikeforce's Recent Shows #2

It’s time to step into the MMA world again as I take my regular look at the now much changed Strikeforce promotion, with a look at their three most recent events.

Feijao vs. Henderson, the last show under the old ownership,] began with lightweight action as Jorge Masvidal faced Billy Evangelista.

We saw a dominating performance from Masvidal here, using his reach advantage to good effect in the striking department.

Evangelista just didn’t have any answers as Masvidal picked him apart. But even though Masvidal was beating his man to the punch almost every time he didn’t put the pedal to the medal, content that what he was doing was getting the job done.

So with the fight going the distance the judges came into play, with all three giving the fight to Masvidal for his solid if unspectacular performance.

It was up to the middleweight division for the next fight as Tim Kennedy went up against Melvin Manhoef.

This was your typical wrestler versus striker battle. Manhoef did well early on, easily defending Kennedy’s take down attempts and causing some damage to his man’s lead leg with some stinging taps.

It was long before Kennedy finally got the take down he was looking for, quickly taking the Dutchman’s back and synching in a rear naked choke for the submission win. A good performance by Kennedy, but another example of how Manhoef needs to work extensively on his ground game.

The first title fight of the show saw Liz Carmouche challenging Marloes Coenen for the Women’s Welterweight title.

Once again the women put on a great fight. For the first three rounds Carmouche took it to the champion, dominating in rounds two and three with some vicious ground and pound.

But as Coenen looked out of it at the beginning of the fourth she suddenly came back into the fight. After a series of reversals on the ground Coenen locked in a triangle choke. Carmouche tried to fight it for as long as she could until she eventually tapped out. A very impressive outing for Carmouche, valiant in defeat.

The main event saw Dan Henderson challenging Rafael Feijao for the Light Heavyweight title.

After a lengthy feeling out period at the beginning Feijao suddenly sprang into life as a big right sent Henderson down. However, Henderson came back immediately with a take down.

From there Henderson slowly took control with his superior grappling. Feijao just didn’t seem to have any answer to this.

But in the end it was Henderson’s punching power that came into play. Early in the third he connected with a big right that sent the Brazilian crashing. Henderson followed him down but it wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to give Henderson the knockout win.

Show conclusion - A very good show. The women’s fight delivered big time, while Dan Henderson once again proved that life begins at forty with an incredible win, adding another title to his trophy cabinet.

Strikeforce Challengers 15, the first show under the Zuffa banner, began with welterweight action as Damion Douglas faced Wayne Phillips.

This proved to be a very interesting fight. They took the action to the ground early on, with Douglas going for a couple of rear naked choke attempts.

But as the round progressed Douglas began to visibly tire, giving Phillips the chance to lock in a rear naked choke of his own, with Douglas looking like he was about to pass out as the round ended.

Douglas came out for the second round looking like he’d been cast in a George Romero film, although he did attempt a guillotine early on, which only served to tire him out even more, giving Phillips the chance to work his way back into the fight.

As the third round began Phillips looked like he’d joined Douglas in the Romero flick. Both men looked exhausted and seemed content to exchange brief combinations without any feints.

Douglas seemed to get the better of these exchanges, and seemed to get stronger as the round went on, even showboating a little as the fight came to an end.

So in the end it was in the hands of the judges as they gave their majority decision to Douglas, a decision which didn’t exactly please many of those in attendance.

A catchweight bout, made at 165, between James Terry and Josh Thornburg followed.

This was a great striking battle. Terry came forward early with some nice combinations and had Thornburg on the back foot early.

Thornburg managed to get off a few good shots himself, but as the first round entered it’s final minute Terry connected with a straight right that sent Thornburg crashing. The referee stepped in immediately, giving Terry the impressive knockout win.

It was up to light heavyweight for the next fight as Lorenz Larkin went up against Scott Lighty.

This encounter between an undefeated amateur boxer and a K-1 fighter proved to be an exciting affair.

Larkin put in an excellent performance, moving around the cage with great speed and rolling off blow after blow.

Lighty had his moments, but these were few and far between, and when the fight entered the second round Larkin’s assault continued, and it wasn’t long before a right uppercut rocked Lighty, with a left uppercut sending him down. The referee quickly called a halt to the proceedings as Larkin took the very impressive knockout win.

Lightweight action followed as David Douglas took on Caros Fodor.

Fodor put in an excellent performance here. Douglas had his moments but from the second round onwards Fodor took control, dominating on the ground.

Fodor’s dominance continued against the cage as the third round began. While Douglas seemed intent on holding onto his opponent’s wrist Fodor unloaded with a series of strikes, and with Douglas offering nothing in reply the referee stepped in, giving Fodor the great TKO win.

The main event saw Justin Wilcox facing Rodrigo Damm in the lightweight division.

This one began with a farcical situation because the athletics commission medics weren’t in position, so it seemed like an age before the fight actually began. As the announcers said it was completely unprofessional.

When the fight finally began Wilcox was all over Damm like a cheap suit. The Brazilian was constantly on the back foot until a Wilcox right sent him down.

From there Wilcox went to work with the ground and pound, a right elbow opening up a nasty cut above Damm’s left eye. Wilcox’s attack was relentless, and Damm was lucky to survive until the end of the round.

But that was it as far as the doctor was concerned. After examining Damm’s cut he called off the fight, giving Wilcox the well earned win.

Show conclusion - The Zuffa ownership and slight rule changes, most notably the allowing of elbow strikes to a grounded opponent came into play immediately, with some of the fighters, especially Justin Wilcox, using their newfound freedom to good effect.

As for the show it was another great event from Strikeforce’s undercard fighters, with all four fights delivering.

Diaz vs. Daley began with lightweight action as Shinya Aoki faced Lyle Beerbohm.

A quick start to the evening saw the fight go to the ground early on. Aoki soon took Beerbohm’s back, taking the submission win seconds later thanks to a neck crank.

It was up to the light heavyweight division for the next fight as Gegard Mousasi faced the debuting Keith Jardine.

The Dean of Mean was looking to get back into winning ways, but sadly, having taken the fight at less than two week’s notice it was too much to ask.

Although Jardine scored with a number of take downs he didn’t follow up with any work on the ground.

Mousasi, however, put in a great performance, especially with his striking as he turned Jardine’s face into a bloody mess, although he did earn a point deduction in the firs round for connecting with an up kick while Jardine was still grounded.

So with the fights going the distance the judges came into play with one judge scoring for Mousasi and the other two scoring it as a draw. A disappointing decision, although I thought that Mousasi was a clear winner.

The first title fight saw Tatsuya Kawajiri challenging Gilbert Melendez for the Lightweight title.

Melendez came out with all guns blazing, out boxing and rocking his Japanese challenger from the outset.

There was a brief lull as Melendez took Kawajiri’s back, but it was soon back to the striking game.

The end came as Melendez continued his onslaught on the ground, with the referee stepping in to give Melendez the first round TKO win.

The main event saw Paul Daley challenging Nick Diaz for the Welterweight title.

This was as slugfest, plain and simple. Both men went all out as soon as the bell sounded, coming forward with the big bombs.

It was an enthralling back and forth fight, fought at a frantic pace, with each man rocking the other.

But it was as the first round ended it’s final sages that Diaz took control, rocking his challenger as Daley pushed him away.

Daley was out of it and crashed to the ground. Diaz quickly followed him down, with the referee quickly stepping in to give Diaz the TKO win.

Show conclusion - This was a tremendous show, once of the best I’ve seen this yearn, with the performances of both Melendez and Diaz highly impressive.

In conclusion - Watching these shows you can see why Zuffa were interested in buying Strikeforce. These shows were certainly up there with some of the UFC’s most recent efforts.

But I must admit it did feel a little strange in the last show seeing Dana White wearing a Strikeforce T-shirt, as well as Strikeforce regulars fighting on a mat advertising the next UFC show.

So overall these show get the big thumbs up, and as far as the possible super-fights are concerned I’m not going to make any bold predictions. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.
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