by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Fresno product, Billy Evangelista, kept his record perfect with a tactical performance in defeating former UFC lightweight Jorge Gurgel in the main event of the fourth edition of the Strikeforce Challengers series Friday night on Showtime.
A razor close fight throughout, Evangelista may have stolen rounds from the aggressive Gurgel by landing several takedowns in the bout. The closest point to a finish came in the second round as Gurgel locked in a tight guillotine choke, but Evangelista battled out to fight for another round.
Evangelista countered well in the fight, hitting Gurgel with solid punches, while mixing in a bevy of takedowns to keep his opponent off balance. With the win, Evangelista moves closer towards a possible showdown for the 155-pound title.
“Whatever’s next for me, I’ll take it as it comes,” Evangelista commented about possibly taking a shot at the Strikeforce lightweight championship.
Always his toughest critic, Gurgel was humble following the loss, while taking time to thank his coaches and teammates for the work they put in to get him ready.
“I’m very embarrassed. I’ll do better next time,” Gurgel said after the loss.
Pulling a victory from the jaws of defeat, Shane Del Rosario somehow battled out of an early knockdown to lock on an Omo Plata shoulder lock forcing the tap from Brandon Cash in the first round of a heavyweight bout.
Cash came out aggressive early and landed a jaw dropping right hand that put Del Rosario on the floor and immediately on the defensive. Del Rosario did a great job of battle from the bottom, before getting in the perfect position to lock on the omo plata and getting the submission win.
American Kickboxing Academy standout Luke Rockhold continued his impressive winning streak with a rear naked choke submission of former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor Jesse Taylor. Rockhold worked a beautiful reversal after giving up his back, to lock on to Taylor and eventually get the fight-ending choke.
Following a year-plus layoff, Merritt Warren pulled off a heel hook submission on San Shou fighter Thomas Diagne in the first round of their lightweight matchup. Warren gave up a takedown, but immediately looked for leg locks as the taller Diagne stood over him. Warren snatched a leg and didn’t let go until a yell and a tap brought the end of the fight.
Zoila Frausto used an active striking game to land the better shots in her unanimous decision win over Elisha Helsper to kick off the Strikeforce show on Friday night. Frausto threw a mixed bag of kicks and knees to keep Helsper off balance all night en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Strikeforce Challengers 4 Results:
-Billy Evangelista def. Jorge Gurgel by Unanimous decision, R3
-Shane Del Rosario def. Brandon Cash by Submission (Omo Plata) at 2:57, R1
-Luke Rockhold def. Jesse Taylor by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:42, R1
-Merritt Warren def. Thomas Diagne by Submission (Heel Hook) at 3:49, R1
-Zoila Frausto def. Elisha Helsper by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Ben Holscher def. Johnny Goh by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Casey Olson def. Chris Culley by TKO (Strikes) at 2:36, R1
-Cole Escovedo def. Maurice Eazel by TKO (Strikes) at 1:47, R1
-Rico Altamirano def. Alex Trevino by Unanimous Decision, R3
(UPDATE / 10:15 a.m. PT, Nov. 7 – Added full listing of results.)