Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman
Ronda Rousey continued to steamroll through the 135 lb division in exactly the same fashion as her previous fights. She used a less than technical flurry of strikes to bull rush Sarah Kaufman and close the distance. From there, she used her fundamental Judo to get Kaufman to the mat. She landed in the mount position and immediately attacked an arm. Kaufman managed to defend for about thirty seconds but had to tap once Rousey get her arm extended. Rousey erased any doubts as she completely overwhelmed another former champion and at the moment, I don’t know who else is out there for Rousey to fight at 135 lbs. Obviously, a fight with Christiane “Cyborg” Santos looms as the super fight of women’s MMA. But considering that Santos has struggled to make 145 lbs in the past and was just busted for PEDs, I’m not sure how realistic that fight would be. Rousey seems unlikely to back down from anyone but even she would have to consider the ramifications of going into a fight at that much of a size disadvantage against a known PED user. Meisha Tate’s performance against Julie Kedzie earlier in the night was unbelievable and it may have been enough to earn her a rematch with Rousey but I’m not sure that fight would go any different than it did the first time. Whatever happens, Rousey is at the top of the food chain in women’s MMA and that can only mean good things for the future of the sport. Unfortunately for Kaufman, this fight drops her out of title contention for the moment. But she’s still one of the best in the world and I’m sure she will continue to get big fights in Strikeforce.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Derek Brunson
Derek Brunson is a promising prospect but he really should not have been fighting Jacare at this point in his career. Jacare made quick work of the relatively inexperienced fighter dropping him with a counter right hand in the first thirty seconds and following up with a few more punches for the finish. Brunson obviously needs to focus on his striking defense to make sure he doesn’t leave such huge openings when he throws. He still has a chance to develop into a contender and a loss like this to Jacare should not be seen as establishing his ceiling. For Jacare, this was the best striking he has ever shown. He landed a deadly accurate counter and followed up with two more that landed directly on the chin. He used the minimum amount of energy to do the maximum amount of damage. This performance should earn him a rematch against Luke Rockhold to regain the middleweight belt he lost to Rockhold last year. Strikeforce has no one else to offer at 185 lbs and they might as well make the best fights available for as long as the organization lasts.
Tarec Saffiedine vs. Roger Bowling
Roger Bowling came to the cage with improved cardio and a better overall approach but it wasn’t enough to defeat Tarec Saffiedine who is beginning to look like a contender in the welterweight division. Saffiedine won the first round by controlling the distance and counter striking effectively. He landed several solid knees to the head and body of Bowling. Although Bowling was the aggressor throughout the fight, Saffiedine was actually the one in control and never allowed Bowling to do any real damage. The second round was similar to the first. Bowling continued to be the aggressor throwing boxing combinations and mixing in kicks to the legs and body. Saffiedine was less effective with his counterstriking in the second round, which made it a more difficult round to score. Saffiedine was still the more accurate and technical striker but because Bowling pushed the action and threw a higher volume of strikes, I scored the round in favor of him. The third round was progressing similarly to the second until Bowling decided to try to shoot for a takedown to win the round. Instead, Saffiedine stuffed the takedown and immediately climbed onto Bowling’s back securing the round and fight for himself. Even in a loss, Bowling showed a huge improvement in cardio. He still has dangerous power but he was overmatched technically against Saffiedine. I expect to see him in more fights against similar minded strikers and hopefully, he will continue the approach that he brought to this fight. With this win, Saffiedine likely earns a shot at Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt in the depleted welterweight division. I’m not sure Saffiedine has much to offer a fighter of Marquardt’s caliber but it seems like the only logical fight for the promotion to make.
Anthony Smith vs. Lumumba Sayers
One-dimensional fighters can no longer survive in MMA and while Lumumba Sayers has heavy hands, he doesn’t have a ground game and it showed in this fight. In the first scramble of the opening round, Smith moved into full mount easily. From there, he landed ground and pound cutting Sayers before he was eventually able to escape and get back to his feet. But soon after, Smith slipped while throwing a punch and Sayers followed him to the ground. Within a few seconds of climbing into Smith’s guard, Sayers was tapping to a triangle choke. Smith showed near technical perfection in locking up the submission but Sayers offered almost no resistance. For Sayers, this establishes him as a fighter who is basically only capable of engaging in striking matches. Anyone with a ground game will dominate him. Smith’s performance was difficult to gauge because of the little resistance offered by his opponent but he did show some strong technique on the ground and deserves a step up in competition for his next fight.
Ovince St. Preux vs. T.J. Cook
The opening fight of Strikeforce Rousey vs. Kaufman played out exactly the way the promotion planned with Ovince St. Preux earning a scary one punch KO victory over T.J. Cook. To Cook’s credit, he managed to survive until the third round but doing so only set him up for a highlight reel loss. The fight started with Cook landing a couple big power shots to the body and legs but St. Preux quickly returned fire and dropped Cook with a left hand. He pounced for the finish but was unable to get it as Cook recovered and came back throwing big punches. Both fighters showed an excellent chin in the first round but St. Preux won it relatively easily. The pace slowed in the second round as St. Preux recovered some of the energy he expended in the first but he eventually landed an explosive double leg takedown and controlled the round from that point. He passed to side control and then moved into full mount. Cook gave his back and St. Preux ended the round in a dominant position. Before the start of the third round, Cook waited until the last second to insert his mouth piece and was visibly tired. St. Preux’s first punch of the round was a huge left hand that shut Cook down completely. Thankfully, St. Preux realized what happened and didn’t try to land any more strikes. Cook was out for a while but did recover and leave the cage under his own power. And unfortunately, this fight probably means he won’t be in Strikeforce much longer. By his own admission, he is not training full time and part time training just isn’t enough to compete at this level. St. Preux will likely get a second chance against a high level fighter in his next fight after losing to Gegard Mousasi in his previous fight. He obviously has the athleticism to compete in the light heavyweight division but he needs to continue to improve his technique if he hopes to challenge for a belt in the future.