by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Friday night’s Strikeforce Challengers 10 featured Joe Riggs and Louis Taylor in the main event, but it was the Strikeforce women’s one-night, four-woman tournament in the 135-pound division that stole the show.
In the opening bout of the tournament, Miesha Tate controlled the majority of the bout with Finnish fighter Maiju Kujala, but it wasn’t as easy as many had thought. Tate, with a distinct advantage in experience, was able to take Kujala down several times, which likely is what won her the fight. Kujala established a strong jab in round two, finally getting some strong offense going, but it was too little too late with only two three-minute rounds to work with in the tournament format.
Tate walked out of the opening bout with a unanimous decision, suffering little damage, and ready to go for the tournament final.
Bout number two of the tournament featured Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Carina Damm and Japanese submission specialist Hitomi Akano. Damm shucked much of her BJJ background in favor of a strong striking attack. It worked for her in round one and at the beginning of round two, but Akano wouldn’t be denied.
Fighting out of a scramble on the ground, Akano locked on a triangle choke, rolled with the hold locked, landed in top mount position, and subsequently submitted Damm with a triangle choke-armbar combination from the top.
The two opening round bouts set up Tate and Akano for the tournament final, the prize being a shot at the winner of a future bout between current champion Sarah Kaufman and challenger Marloes Coenen.
Akano, following her semi-final win, said that she would submit Tate in the final. She definitely tried, but fell short in her attempts.
Akano cranked hard on a foot lock in the opening round, but Tate reversed her fortunes in rounds two and three. She continually wrestled Akano down from a gut wrench and took her back.
In round three, Tate nearly sank a rear naked choke, and went searching for a keylock, but had to settle for pummeling Akano with punches as the final bell sounded, a unanimous decision in her pocket.
“Beating her was definitely monumental in my career,” Tate said after the fight, but she immediately shifted her gaze to the future.
“Sarah Kaufman, you’re amazing, I can’t wait to fight you again,” she declared. Tate is banking on Kaufman to defeat Coenen so she can avenge a unanimous decision loss to the undefeated Canadian nearly a year and a half ago.
Joe Riggs and Louis Taylor both came out fighting the same game plan, each waiting to counter the other’s move. That went on for more than two rounds before Riggs woke the crowd from its slumber.
Riggs fired a straight left hand that blew up in Taylor’s face as he charged in, sending the Chicagoan staggering backwards. Riggs clinched and wrestled his foe to the ground. He pinned one of Taylor’s arms to the mat and pounded him into submission, literally. Taylor tapped out a little over two minutes into the final round.
Asked if he would like to enter Strikeforce’s upcoming middleweight tournament, Riggs, who fought this bout at a 182-pound catchweight, said, “It’s always up to Strikeforce. I want to stay at 170 if I can fight Nick Diaz again. I already beat his ass once, I’ll do it again.”
Diaz is currently the Strikeforce welterweight champion.
Ryan Couture, son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, made his professional debut on Friday night, finishing Rage In The Cage mainstay Lucas Stark in the opening moments of their fight.
Stark came out firing punches, but it would be Couture quickly taking him to the mat, looking to lock on a front choke. Stark reversed position with a fireman’s carry, but landed in the midst of a textbook triangle choke that caused him to tap out.
Couture had little to say about winning his professional debut, other than, “I’m just glad to have gotten in here and got the job done.”
Women’s 135-Pound Tournament Final Bout:
-Miesha Tate def. Hitomi Akano by Unanimous Decision, R3
Women’s 135-Pound Tournament Semi-Final Bouts:
-Miesha Tate def. Maiju Kujala by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Hitomi Akano def. Carina Damm by Submission (Triangle Choke/Armbar) at 1:48, R2
Women’s 135-Pound Tournament Reserve Bout:
-Liz Carmouche def. Colleen Schneider by Unanimous Decision, R2
-Joe Riggs def. Louis Taylor by Submission (Strikes) at 2:07, R3
-Ryan Couture def. Lucas Stark by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 1:15, R1