Strikeforce Rousey vs. Kaufman: Post-Fight Breakdown

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.

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.

MMAFix Staff Picks: UFC 150

Benson Henderson (-210) vs. Frankie Edgar (+175) Emily Kapala: The Henderson Vs. Edgar fight is going to worth every PPV penny. While Henderson did take the belt from Edgar at their last meeting in the.

Benson Henderson (-210) vs. Frankie Edgar (+175)

Emily Kapala: The Henderson Vs. Edgar fight is going to worth every PPV penny. While Henderson did take the belt from Edgar at their last meeting in the octagon, I think the oddsmakers have it wrong by choosing Henderson as the favorite. While Henderson may have been the better fighter at the bout in Japan, Edgar is a better all around fighter. Not only will he win the fight, but he is the highest value bet. Frankie Edgar will be the regain his title as the lightweight champion of the world on Saturday night. Winner: Frankie Edgar

Alan Wells: I expect this fight to play out similarly to the first one. It will be close and Edgar will have his moments but Henderson is just a little better overall. Either way, this one is going five rounds and will be contested at a high level. And the odds are bettable either way. What more can you ask for? Winner: Ben Henderson

Elise Kapala: The main event is clearly a must see for MMA fans. Because Edgar lost the belt to Henderson, I believe he has the driving edge mentally, as well as physically, to get back his belt and regain the title of champion. I think Edgar will come out on top in this rematch. Winner: Frankie Edgar

Ryan Poli: I picked Henderson to win the first time, and even though I think Edgar should have won the fight, I’m picking Henderson again due to his skill in every aspect of the fight game. Henderson by decision. Winner: Ben Henderson

MMAFix PicK: Push (2-2)

Donald Cerrone (-350) vs. Melvin Guillard (+290)

Emily Kapala: With 7 fight of the night performances throughout his mixed martial arts career, you know a good brawl is going to happen when Cerrone is on the card. While Guillard has shown excellent skill thoughout his career, I see Cerrone winning with his Muay Thai kickboxing. With a win, he is on his way to be in the lightweight champion contendership once again. Winner: Donald Cerrone

Alan Wells: I expect this fight to be a replay of Cerrone’s previous fight against Jeremy Stephens. He’ll keep Guillard on the outside and pick him apart with combinations. The punches will land clean and set up huge leg kicks to finish. Cerrone will take this one convincingly but the odds make it not worth a bet. Winner: Donald Cerrone

Elise Kapala: The fight between Guillard and Cerrone is an interesting fight. They both have incredible knockout ability, so it should be very interesting. Although I think it will be a very close fight, I think that Cerrone will take the victory over Guillard. Winner: Donald Cerrone

Ryan Poli: Guillard has the power to end the fight at any time, but Cerrone has the technical advantage in the striking and a huge advantage in the ground game. Cerrone by Submission. Winner: Donald Cerrone

MMAFix Pick: Donald Cerrone (4-0)

UFC 150 Pre-Fight Analysis

Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar Because of Frankie Edgar’s willingness to give immediate rematches to B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard, he gets one against Ben Henderson despite the long list of potential opponents waiting for.

Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar

Because of Frankie Edgar’s willingness to give immediate rematches to B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard, he gets one against Ben Henderson despite the long list of potential opponents waiting for a title shot. But the first fight was entertaining enough that most fans are willing to tolerate the rest of the division being held hostage so that Edgar can get a second chance at Henderson.

We know who both of these fighters are at this point in their careers and the outcome of this fight will be determined solely on gameplan and execution. Neither fighter is significantly better than the other in any area and the key in fights like this is finding a way to create openings to score. This fight represents the future of MMA as two fighters who have high level skill sets in all areas fight for slight advantages through five close rounds. The only significant advantage gained by either fighter in the first fight was when Henderson landed an upkick at the end of the third round, which seems unlikely to be repeated. Both fighters have excellent striking with Edgar probably having a slight advantage in the boxing but Henderson having a slight advantage in the kicking game. Henderson also has the reach advantage but keeping Edgar on the outside has proved nearly impossible. Both are excellent wrestlers and frequently change levels to keep their opponents off balance. Once on the mat, both are capable of doing damage with ground and pound. But both are also excellent at getting back to their feet and neither fighter was able to maintain any significant ground control in the first fight.

This fight will likely play out similarly to the first fight with both fighters happy to engage on the feet but looking to mix in takedowns when the opportunity presents itself. Henderson proved to have a slight advantage in most positions in the first fight and one would expect that pattern to continue in this fight. Because of that, he comes in as a solid favorite at -210 with Edgar at +175. However, Henderson in no way dominated the first fight so a win for Edgar would not be a surprise. The first fight was won because Henderson took advantage of of a few small openings to outscore Edgar. If Edgar can tighten up those minor mistakes and instead create a few small openings of his own in this fight, he could easily reverse the outcome and regain his title. Whatever the outcome, this fight will be back and forth. Both fighters will win rounds and both will be successful at different points in the fight. The key will be whose execution is tighter and who was able to learn the most from the first fight. Henderson deserves to be the favorite but Edgar could easily walk away the champion. And if he does, the lightweight division will be even more convoluted than it already is.

Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard

If you’re an MMA fan, you’re excited about this fight. Donald Cerrone and Melvin Guillard are two of the most exciting fighters in the sport and only a glitch in the fabric of the universe could extinguish the fireworks these two are almost certain to light from the moment this fight begins.

Cerrone’s only loss since coming to the UFC was against Nate Diaz who is currently awaiting the winner of the headlining lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. He followed that loss with a dominant decision victory over Jeremy Stephens. Cerrone was never challenged in that fight and appeared to be sparring with Stephens by the third round. He destroyed Stephens leg with kicks and seemed to finish every combination with a baseball bat to Stephens’ thigh. He’ll be able to use the same strategy against Guillard who will be at a similar reach disadvantage and is also not a threat to take Cerrone to the mat. Cerrone has a clear grappling advantage in this fight and Greg Jackson will certainly be imploring his fighter to put Guillard on his back and work for a submission. Whether or not Cerrone listens will likely depend on whether or not he feels threatened by Guillard’s power.

Guillard was on the brink of a title shot before losing back to back fights via first round submission to Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller. And his performance last month against Fabricio Camoes was not impressive. He earned a bizarre unanimous decision victory with all three judges scoring the fight 30-27 despite the fact that Camoes clearly won the second round and the third round was incredibly close. Regardless, he will look to build on whatever momentum he gained from that fight in this fight against Cerrone. Guillard’s game is largely based on the power in his hands. If he finds his opponent’s chin, he usually wins but if he doesn’t, he struggles. He will be at a significant reach disadvantage in this fight and will need to use speed and movement to find his way inside and land combinations. He is capable of doing it but it will require a level of execution he hasn’t shown since leaving Jackson MMA for the Blackzillions.

Cerrone comes in as a significant favorite at -350 with Guillard getting +290. This fight will likely play out similarly to Cerrone’s previous fight against Jeremy Stephens. He will use his reach to keep Guillard at distance and pick him apart with combinations that end with destructive leg kicks. If Guillard has success closing the distance, look for Cerrone to take him down and work his submission game. And if Cerrone is only interested in winning, that is the more intelligent strategy. But he’s never been interested in simply winning the fight so look for him to make it a kickboxing match unless he feels threatened. But either way, this is likely to be a great lead in for the main event.

UFC 149 MMAFix Picks

Renan Pagado (-190) vs. Urijah Faber (+165) Elise: The main event of UFC 149 will truly be worth the price of PPV. The title of the Interim Bantamweight belt goes to Faber or Barao. Although.

Renan Pagado (-190) vs. Urijah Faber (+165)
Elise: The main event of UFC 149 will truly be worth the price of PPV. The title of the Interim Bantamweight belt goes to Faber or Barao. Although Faber is considered the underdog in the fight, I say Faber by decision or Barao by submission choke in the 3rd or 4th round. Winner: Faber

Emily: The oddsmakers are right on in choosing Renan Barao as the favorite. Not only will he come out with the victory, but he is the highest value bet. We will no doubt be seeing him fight for the bantamweight title as soon as the champ recovers. Winner: Pagado

John: This is a tough one. Renan Barao is the clear favorite mainly due to his sick ass 29 fight win streak, and don’t get me wrong he is a bad dude, but people need to remember that we’re dealing with the alpha male of team Alpha Male—so show some respect b*tches!! Both of these guys are finishers, but I think they’ll more than likely cancel each other out in that regard. It will all come down to the takedown battle. If the “California Kid” can score enough takedowns to keep Barao from really getting going on the standup, I think he is good enough to avoid his opponent’s rather spectacular submission game for the decision victory. If he can’t, then Barao will pick him apart the whole time while periodically stuffing takedowns for a unanimous nod from the judges. I give a slight edge to Barao for his standup, but I definitely don’t think the betting line is where it should be for this fight. Urijah Faber is a killer, period! He fought Mike Brown for five with two f*cked up hands and went five with Aldo at 145lbs…that said I still have Barao coming up with the decision. Winner: Pagado

Ryan: The day Barao beat Brad Pickett, I knew he would be champion. I think Faber is of the elite, but Barao is a 135 pound Jose Aldo, and Aldo gave Faber a beating. Barao by decision. Winner: Pagado

Alan: Faber is a fan favorite and it’s always hard to pick against him but Pagado is superior in almost every area. He’ll win this fight relatively easily probably taking at least four rounds on the way to a decision. If the line was a little more lopsided, I might be inclined to take a flyer on Faber but +165 isn’t enough to make it worth it. Winner: Pagado

MMAFIX Staff Pick: Pagado (4-1)

Hector Lombard (-390) vs. Tim Boetsch (+320)

John: Replacing the injured Brian Stann, Tim Boetsch is going to have his hands full with Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard. On an impressive 24 fight win streak of his own, Lombard has the power to put the “Barbarian” away, but as Boetsch showed in his last bout against former title challenger Yushin
Okami, you can beat the sh*t out of him the whole fight, and he can still knock you out in brutal fashion. Lombard, a former Olympian, has the resume to beat Boetsch on paper. The question here is whether or not Lombard f*cks people up the way he does because he has been fighting lower level competition or because he really is just that good. Either way we’ll find out Saturday.

Even though I’m rooting for Boetsch, I have to go with Lombard by first round KO or second round TKO—bro, he called out “the Warmaster,” heavyweight Josh Barnett….that’s right heavyweight.

For those of you who don’t understand, this means two things:

1. Hector Lombard has huge balls
2. Hector Lombard is just about the rawest motherf***er out there….sometimes you just have to believe in the crazy person.

Winner: Lombard

Ryan: I think that people make Lombard out to be better than he really is, and he hasn’t quite proved himself to be in the top 10 of the division yet. With that However, Tim boetsch is only in the top 10 from a crazy come from behind KO of Yushin Okami. With that being said, I agree with Lombard being the favorite, but not sure if the it’s too much in the favor of Lombard or not. Lombard knows if he is impressive in this fight he could get a title shot, so look for Lombard to end this fight quite. Lombard by TKO. Winner: Lombard

Alan: Like everyone else, I’m picking Lombard to win. But I love the line on Boetsch. Lombard hasn’t faced anyone near this caliber and this is his first UFC appearance. If I’m betting this fight, I’m going with Boetsch and hoping for the upset. He’s an underdog but not a +320 underdog. This is a perfect low risk high reward type of betting situation. Winner: Lombard

MMAFix Staff Pick: Lombard (3-0)

UFC 149 Faber vs. Barao: Pre-Fight Analysis

Urijah Faber vs. Renan Pagado This headlining fight for UFC 149 was originally supposed to be a featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Eric Koch but after an injury to Aldo, the UFC decided.

Urijah Faber vs. Renan Pagado

This headlining fight for UFC 149 was originally supposed to be a featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Eric Koch but after an injury to Aldo, the UFC decided to manufacture a replacement title fight out of nothing by creating an interim bantamweight belt to be held while Dominic Cruz is sidelined. After an ill-conceived attempt to spark a buzz over who Urijah Faber would face for the interim title, the UFC announced that Renan Pagado would be the opponent as expected.

Faber is a known commodity. His looks and personality combined with his early dominance of the featherweight division have made him one of the more marketable stars in MMA and he deserves a huge portion of the credit for pushing the growth of the lighter weight classes. Not only has he aided that growth through his performance in and out of the cage but his Team Alpha Male gym has become the best gym on the world for small former wrestlers looking to make the transition to MMA. Faber has solid wrestling and an impressive arsenal of submissions to compliment that wrestling. At the height of his career, he earned his victories by taking his opponents down and finishing either via submission or occasionally ground and pound. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have already passed his peak at age thirty three and has struggled in recent years with hand injuries early in fights. He has not been able to deal with either Dominick Cruz or Jose Aldo losing by decisions in each of his last two title fights. In Pagado, he faces a fighter who is often compared to Aldo. If he wants to earn the victory, he will have to show the unpredictable yet technical game that he brought the cage in his prime. He will need to get Pagado off balance and bring the fight to the ground. From there, he will need to find a way to maintain control. A finish seems unlikely but if he can control Pagado, he could scramble his way to a victory.

Renan Pagado is the exciting up and comer in the bantamweight division. He is widely considered to be the biggest threat to Dominick Cruz and some would even consider him the favorite in that fight. But first, he’ll have to deal with Faber. Pagado lost the first fight of his career and has not lost since then compiling a twenty eight fight unbeaten streak and a seventeen fight win streak. His game seems to have no significant holes. He is a dangerous striker with a diverse arsenal of kicks and punches. His takedown defense in excellent but he isn’t afraid to go the ground because his jiu-jitsu is some of the best in the division. In this fight, he will likely have a slight advantage everywhere the fight goes except maybe in the scrambles and the transitions. He will probably settle in to a strategy of trying to defend the takedown to fight Faber on the feet the same way Cruz and Aldo have done in the past. If he does that, he should have a clear advantage and be able to earn the decision. Faber is incredibly durable so if Pagado can somehow earn the finish, that would be a serious statement.

The bookmakers have Pagado as a solid favorite at -190 with Faber at +165. Keeping it that close shows respect for the former champion and a certain amount of caution as Pagado has yet to face competition on Faber’s level. But in reality, that line could shift further in favor of Pagado and no one would argue. The most likely script for this fight is that Pagado will keep the fight on the feet and strike his way to victory. But if Faber can turn this into a scramble fest and keep Pagado off balance, he could pull off the upset and earn the right to face Cruz for a third time.

Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch

In the only fight to benefit positively from the injuries that infected UFC 149, Hector Lombard replaces Michael Bisping to face Tim Boetsch in a matchup of top middleweights. The winner of this fight is likely to jump to the front of the line along with Chris Weidman as the top contenders to challenge Anderson Silva for the title.

Since dropping to middleweight, Boetsch has looked great earning consecutive victories over Kendall Grove, Nick Ring and former title challenger Yushin Okami. The last victory in particular elevated his status in the division and a win over the highly regarded Lombard would put him in the foreground of the title picture. Boetsch has shown a well rounded ugly game that lives up to his nickname as the “Barbarian.” He has finishing power in both hands and his boxing is deceptively technical. He mixes wrestling with his boxing and has shown the ability to bring fighters to the mat and control position. Once on the ground, his ground and pound is some of the best in the division and he is a constant threat to end the fight. In this fight, he will likely want to avoid engaging with Lombard on the feet. He will need to use his boxing to set up a takedown and control Lombard on the ground. If he can do that, he will ground and pound his way to a decision victory. But if he can’t and is forced to stand with Lombard, he could be in serious trouble.

Lombard comes to UFC aboard one of the louder hype trains in recent memory. He has destroyed his competition in lesser organizations compiling a twenty five fight unbeaten streak and twenty fight win streak. Most recently, he has dominated fighters like Trevor Prangley, Jesse Taylor and Faleniko Vitale in Bellator. He has devastating power in his hands and finished six of his seven opponents in Bellator. His strategy will be simple. He will look to keep the fight standing and box with Boetsch. We should get an idea quickly as to how Lombard stacks up against UFC competition. This will be by far the biggest test of his career and we should know early in the fight how he will respond. We’ve seen a myriad of fighters move to the UFC from smaller organizations and immediately have the weaknesses in their games exposed. That is a real possibility in this fight. But if Lombard comes in and earns a victory, he will establish himself as a real contender at middleweight and will have to be included in the title discussion. And if he earns an impressive victory, the UFC will have a tough decision as to who deserves the next shot at Anderson Silva.

The line on this fight currently has Lombard as a huge favorite at -380 with Boetsch at +315. Obviously, the bookmakers are impressed with Lombard’s performance against lesser competition and expect him to bring that level of explosiveness to his UFC debut. Boetsch is in trouble every second that this fight stays on the feet and no one will be surprised if Lombard lands a huge combination to end his night. But if Boetsch can wrestle Lombard to the mat and keep him there for a few minutes at a time, he could steal this fight.

Strikeforce – Rockhold vs. Kennedy Post Fight Breakdown

Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Kennedy In the headlining fight of the night, Luke Rockhold defended his middleweight title with a unanimous 49-46 decision victory over challenger Tim Kennedy. Rockhold controlled the majority of the fight.

Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Kennedy

In the headlining fight of the night, Luke Rockhold defended his middleweight title with a unanimous 49-46 decision victory over challenger Tim Kennedy. Rockhold controlled the majority of the fight and did enough to win even if his performance wasn’t overwhelming. Kennedy was game but simply didn’t have the skills to threaten Rockhold. He struggled with the size and reach disadvantage throughout the fight and was never able to impose his gameplan.

The first round was one that could have been scored for Kennedy on the strength of one of his few takedowns. He managed to stay on top of Rockhold and maintain control but was unable to do any significant damage. Rockhold controlled most of the rest of the round pushing Kennedy against the cage and landing a few right hands. The second round saw Rockhold begin to take control of the fight. He stuffed Kennedy’s takedowns and scored one of his own. He took Kennedy’s back briefly and worked for a choke but never got close to finishing. Again, he landed several right hands and generally controlled the pace of the fight. The third round was Kennedy’s best as he gained his most dominant position by climbing to Rockhold’s back after a takedown. Again, this round could have been scored for Kennedy and was probably the one the judges gave him. The fourth round saw the most significant moment of the fight with Rockhold landing another right hand but this time landing clean enough to drop Kennedy. He attacked for the finish but Kennedy survived. The fifth round saw little action, which is a bit disappointing considering that an optimistic view could have had the fight at two rounds each. But neither fighter seemed to feel a sense of urgency and Rockhold deserved the round based mostly on cage control.

Neither fighter was overly impressive in the fight but Rockhold earned the decision and the right to retain his belt. As is the case in most divisions, Strikeforce doesn’t have much to offer in terms of competition at middleweight so we’ll have to wait and see who’s next for Rockhold. Kennedy has established himself as a quality fighter but has now lost twice in title fights and seems unlikely to ever hold the belt. A match with Lorenz Larkin would seem to make sense after his victory over Robbie Lawler earlier in the night.

Nate Marquardt vs. Tyron Woodley

Nate Marquardt made the most of his first fight in Strikeforce scoring an impressive knockout over Tyron Woodley. The fight also marked his first appearance at 170 lbs and the weight cut didn’t seem to impact his performance at all. At this weight, he’s going to be tough to deal with and shouldn’t have much competition in Strikeforce. Hopefully, he can put together one or two more performances like this and get a second chance in the UFC.

The fight started with Marquardt and Woodley both landing big right hands. Woodley’s landed on the temple and staggered Marquardt. But Marquardt was able to defend, recover and take over the fight from there. The key going in to this fight was whether or not Woodley would be able to take Marquardt down and we found out quickly that he was not able to do so. Marquardt stuffed every takedown attempt easily and the only way Woodley was ever able to get the fight to the mat was by scoring knockdowns with his punches. But Marquardt was the one landing the majority of the strikes and continuously battered Woodley with right hands. By the end of the first round, Woodley was barely able to stand and seemed to not be fully aware of where he was when the round ended. Woodley came out tentative and still hurt in the second round. Marquardt took advantage and continued to batter him with strikes. Woodley seemed to wilt as the round continued and Marquardt was in full control of the fight by the end of the round. But Woodley wasn’t done yet and showed his heart by exploding on Marquardt to open the third round. He dropped Marquardt with a flurry of punches and tried to finish but couldn’t land anything clean enough to end the fight. Marquardt recovered and was back in control of the fight by the end of the round. He then came out in the fourth wasting no time and looking to end the fight. He landed several big combinations before eventually backing Woodley against the cage and landing an impressive elbow and punch combination to score the knockout. Woodley was never going to win the fight unless he could consistently earn top position and once Marquardt established the pattern of the fight as a striking match, the outcome was inevitable.

Marquardt is clearly the best welterweight in Strikeforce and should hold the belt for as long as he wants. No one currently in the division is a threat to him. Realistically, he should be in the UFC but based on all the drama surrounding his release, who knows if that will ever happen. For Woodley, this will either be the fight that establishes his ceiling or the fight that motivates him to work harder than he ever has before. If his gutsy performance to start the third round is any indication, he will come back stronger from this loss. He has the wrestling base and athleticism to be a title contender but he simply does not have the experience to compete with someone like Marquardt. As his striking becomes more fluid and he can mix it with his wrestling, he still has the potential to become a championship caliber mixed martial artist.

Roger Gracie vs. Keith Jardine

The second fight of the night was a bit of a head scratcher. Roger Gracie completely dominated the first two rounds. But he was only able to dominate because Jardine showed an egregious lack of discipline. To start each of the first two rounds, Jardine rushed Gracie putting himself off balance and allowing Gracie to score easy takedowns. From there, Gracie completely dominated the ground game as would be expected. He repeatedly made his way into dominant positions and used them to slice Jardine’s face with elbows. He also spent a significant amount of time in the second round on Jardine’s back and was probably only prevented from locking up a rear naked choke because of all the blood pouring out of Jardine’s head making it difficult to hold on to any submissions. The fight was clearly over after the second round unless Jardine could pull off a finish. In the third round, Jardine executed the exact gameplan he should have used in the first two rounds. Instead of rushing in recklessly, he stayed on the outside and despite all the punishment he had already taken, was able to win the round. Two of the judges gave that round to Gracie but I can only assume their scoring was basically a carry over from the first two rounds. Had Jardine employed that strategy for all three rounds, he probably would have won the fight because Gracie showed nothing to indicate that he could have scored a takedown without Jardine so anxiously throwing himself off balance. Regardless, Gracie earns the victory and will likely get a tougher fight in his next appearance. Unfortunately for those who want so desperately to see a Gracie climb the MMA ranks again, he showed little improvement in his wrestling and striking. His shots lacked explosion. His chin was high and waiting to be hit. Better and smarter fighters than Jardine will exploit those weaknesses. Jardine continues to slide down the rankings and has now lost both of his fights at 185 lbs. Strikeforce’s relatively weak middleweight roster will likely ensure that he gets more fights but at this point, he can no longer be considered a serious threat.

Robbie Lawler vs. Lorenz Larkin

In the opening fight of the main card, Lorenz Larkin outstruck Robbie Lawler on his way to a decision victory. The fight went exactly the way most people thought it would. Both fighters came to the cage looking to strike. Lawler landed a solid right hand to Larkin’s temple early in the opening round but was not able to take advantage and finish the fight. After than, Larkin controlled the fight and Lawler seemed to fade as the fight continued. Larkin showed the more diverse striking game as expected and Lawler was never able to land the type of power shot that could have earned him the victory. Larkin showed no ill effects from his first cut to 185 lbs. However, he still needs to develop the rest of his game if he hopes to be a serious contender. Lawler remains essentially a gatekeeper in the middleweight decision and should continue to provide interesting matchups for Strikeforce because of his willingness to stand.