by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Leave it to two grapplers to put on a strikefest at Friday night’s Strikeforce in Kent, Wash. That’s exactly what happened when Jorge Gurgel and Conor Heun took center cage.
In the end, it would prove to be Gurgel’s night. Many have criticized him for not utilizing the jiu-jitsu that has earned him a black belt, but as he explained, Friday night was a perfect opportunity to ignore those detractors.
“I promise everybody to use my jiu-jitsu, but Conor was the perfect opponent for me to not use my jiu-jitsu.”
Gurgel used a wide variety of striking skills, primarily fueled by powerful low kicks to set up his punch combinations, to overcome Heun’s four-inch reach advantage. And he did that all night long.
Although Heun got his licks in, leaving Gurgel with cuts above and below his right eye, Gurgel was the busier fighter all night long, stunning Heun on several occasions.
“I never seen in my life a guy with a chin like that besides myself,” he commented after the unanimous decision was announced in Gurgel’s favor.
In Strikeforce’s first women’s bout conducted under 5-minute rounds, Sarah Kaufman once again showed why she is considered one of the top 135-pound female fighters in the mixed martial arts world. It took her all three rounds, but outside of the opening stanza, she dominated the fight against Shayna Baszler.
Baszler did well in the opening round, willing to exchange a few strikes with Kaufman before taking her down and nearly working in an unorthodox knee and arm choke that was fended off. But that was where her offense ended.
In the second and third rounds, Kaufman gained more and more momentum with her striking game, consistently attacking with three and four-punch combinations that stung Baszler, keeping her off of her submission game. Although she couldn’t finish, Kaufman did enough to earn the unanimous decision.
“Shayna’s a really, really tough opponent. That was a big factor in this fight (not going to a finish),” said Kaufman, who is undefeated in her professional career, now at 10-0.
Luke Rockhold kept his streak intact. It was his sixth bout and the sixth time that he has not seen the outside of the opening round. Although he has one loss on his record, Rockhold’s 30-second rear naked choke victory over Cory Devela extends to four his run of victories.
Rockhold dropped Devela early with a right hand, followed him down and unloaded with a flurry of punches, but the referee failed to halt the bout, and, as Rockhold said later, “the neck’s up, I might as well take it.”
Take it he did, but not before he showed off his improved boxing skills.
“It’s kind of exactly what I was talking about. He has that Cowboy Karate style,” said Rockhold. “He comes in kind of wild; the hands come down. I said I got pretty good counter punching. That right hand, I’ve been dropping a lot of people with that in the gym.”
And on Friday night, he dropped Devela with it, setting Rockhold up for a big move in the middleweight division.
“I’m just gonna leave that up to Strikeforce. I’m pretty much ready for anybody in the division.”