Strikeforce Houston Recap

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Written By: Richard Burmaster
Photos By: Justin Trapp
(www.fighterportraits.com)

Strikeforce came into town on Saturday night to showcase their talent and to give some local fighters a chance to fight on one of the biggest stages in MMA. With the talent on this card, the fans were guaranteed fireworks, and we got them.  Just not from where we expected.

IMG_0007-2Artenas Young and Chad Cook started the night off in a highly anticipated fight. This was supposed to be a real test for Artenas as many thought that with Chad’s wrestling background he would surely get Artenas to the ground. He did not, and the majority of the fight was spent with Chad shooting in and Artenas stuffing the shot and then not much else. While Artenas showed great takedown defense, he was never able to put Chad away. This was a big stage for Artenas to showcase his skills, and after the first round he seemed to have a tailor made opponent to showcase some offensive skills against, but he seemed happy to just coast to another decision victory. Artenas may be the best counter puncher in the state, and he is definitely one of the cities best talents, but I hope we get to see some aggression from him in his next fight.

Chad Robichaux and Humberto Deleon were up next in a fight that was supposed to be a one sided affair with Chad being the quick victor. Deleon was more than ready for this fight, and he was able to continually drop Chad in the first with some crisp straight right hands. Chad seemed uncomfortable standing, and he decided to take the fight to the ground in the second where he was much more effective. Going into the third round, this was anyone’s fight, and with very little action in the third, Chad was able to secure the victory with a few leg kicks and body shots. Deleon looked greatly improved from his previous defeats and looks like he has developed confidence in his striking.  He could be a force to recon with in the future. After a rough start, Chad showed his military composure, and he was able to withstand a disappointing first round and come back to earn a victory. Many did not agree with the outcome of the fight, but this was as close of a decision as we have seen, and this fight was close to a draw.

Rey Trujillo and Jose Santibaez were up next in a fight that many expected to be a slugfest. We got the action we wanted, but Rey decided to end the night quickly with a vicious assault that left Santibaez on the mat, and  Trujillo gained the win on a big card that he was looking for.

Adam Schindler went into his fight with Kierre Gooch heavily favored, and he showed the Strikeforce fan’s why he is one of the highest ranked prospects in Texas with his quick destruction of Gooch. After a few takedowns, Adam took Gooch’s back in a scramble and finished him with a RNC. Look for Adam to make waves on the national scene very soon.IMG_0136-2

Rocky Long and Professor Draculino met up in a Legends type of fight. Draculino looked very comfortable standing, and he seemed much stronger in the clinch than many expected. The biggest surprise of this fight was Rocky’s ability to survive on the ground with one of the best BJJ practitioners’ in the world for long stretches. Draculino cruised to a one sided decision victory in a fight with very little offense from Rocky who seemed weary to exchange in fear of the takedown.

Jorge Patino and Andre Galvano were up next. Patino took the fight on short notice, and he looked to end the fight quickly. He almost finished Galvano with a flurry of punches and kicks that showed the aggression that Macaco is known for. Galvano survived and was able to control the fight till the third round when a noticeably gassed Patino was unable to escape from underneath Galvano.  The ref stopped the fight. Patino has fought for many years, and he deserved to be finished instead of having the reff stop the fight at a moment where he was not taking a lot of damage. While the ref is supposed to be cautious of the fighter’s safety this was a horrible stoppage.

Daniel Cormier wasted no time in shooting for the takedown against Jason Riley.   Riley was able to shake off the half hearted take down attempt, but he was not able to stop the overhand right that dropped him to the mat. Cormier quickly landed a few more blows before the ref called it off. Cormier takes his third win in four weeks, and he showed why he is the number one HWY prospect. Cormier has a bright future, and he will be a force to reckon with.

Bobby Lashley was given another cakewalk fight in the form of Chad Griggs, who took the fight on short notice. Problem was no one told Griggs he was supposed to lose. Lashley dominated the first with his usual take down and GNP routine, but he was noticeably tired after the round. Griggs landed an uppercut on one of Bobby’s takedown attempts that opened a big cut under the eye of Lashley.  Bobby once again took down Griggs, and he even worked his way to mount where he seemed to totally gas. Bobby landed no real damage from mount, and when he layed on Griggs the ref stood them up. The ref had the doctor take a look at the cut, and then, let Lashley continue fighting. Lashley shot in for an ankle with maybe 10% of his ability due to exhaustion, and Griggs took that chance to pound on the back of Lashley,s head until the reff stopped the fight. Lashley was taken to the hospital for symptoms of exhaustion, and he was later released.  This fight leaves Lashley with very few options. Does he fight Bautista in a classic freakshow, or does he continue to work hard knowing he will not be in line for a title shot any time soon? Griggs capitalized on a huge opportunity and crappy officiating. It will be interesting to see where these two careers go from here.

IMG_0040-4KJ Noons and Jorge Gurgel came ready to put on a war for the fans, and the fight did have some great moments, but it was marred in controversy. At the end of the first round, Noons landed a left hook after the bell that clearly had Gurgel seeing double. While the punch did not seem intentional, there should still have been a penalty and extra time awarded to Gurgel to recover. Gurgel showed his heart, and he came back out for the second round only to be dropped with a great combination. Noons looked to the ref to stop the fight, and when he didn’t Noons pounced on Gurgel with punches and an illegal knee to the head that came as the ref stepped in. While the knee landed as the ref stopped the fight, Noons explanation that he was just in kill mode lands hollow as that means that when in his kill mode he has no problem landing illegal blows. Gurgel blamed no one at the end of the fight except the ref who he thought was out of position to stop the fight before the knee landed.

Jacare and Tim Kennedy met up next for the vacant middleweight title in a bout that many thought would be decided on the ground. Jacare showed great striking, and he was able to keep Kennedy at the end of his jab for the majority of the fight. Tim seemed hesitant to engage, and he spent the fight looking for way to get inside. Jacare was able to continually batter the left side of Kennedy’s face as he cruised to a one sided victory. If you were to judge this fight just off of stats, then Tim Kennedy won this fight with more accurate striking, and he was able to land four takedowns to Jacare’s none. The judges seemed to go off of just damage, and they awarded the decision to Jacare. This would be a great rematch for all the fans to see.

The main event showcased champion King Mo vs Challenger Rafael Feijao. Except for a few takedowns early, Mo seemed to get away from his wrestling background, and he wanted to stand and bang with the heavy handed challenger. As the third round came, Mo seemed slower, and he was not able to take Feijao down. Feijao landed a shot that made the champ shoot in desperately. Mo was unable to get the takedown again, and this time he was rewarded with a knee from the clinch that sent him stumbling.  A right hand dropped him, and Mo shot for a foot to hold onto. Mo managed to press Feijao against the cage, but he succumbed to the onslaught of elbows to his head and slumped down in defeat as Feijao celebrated the upset and his new title.

This night has its up’s and down’s for Strikeforce. Two of their main draws suffered defeats at the hands of opponent’s they were supposed to beat easily. Add to that the Fedor loss earlier in the year, and Strikeforce is none too happy with the recent results.  The attendance seemed to be less than they had hoped for, but Scott Coker stated they would be back. This was a great show for the local guys as they got to fight on a larger stage than normal. Luckily for Houston, we have great local promotions such as Legacy that keep us entertained with great talent. Looking forward to seeing how the local guys step up to compete with the national shows.