by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce held a special Wednesday night fight card as part of the E3 Gaming Convention in Los Angeles. There weren’t a lot of surprises, but the main event delivered all the action of a video game with Robbie Lawler and Renato “Babalu” Sobral banging it out for the duration.
Despite his face being bloody and swollen, a huge gash over the corner of his left eye and a cut on the bridge of his nose after three rounds of war, Babalu walked out of the cage with both his head and his hand raised high with a unanimous decision victory over one of the toughest strikers in mixed martial arts. And he beat Lawler at his own game.
Babalu tried several times to take Lawler down, but when he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he shifted gears and gave Lawler all he could handle on his feet. While Lawler tried to box with Babalu, the Brazilian did a good job mixing in a variety of kicks, and threw knees from the clinch, while also holding his own when it did come down to boxing, utilizing a sharp jab.
It was a close fight, but in the end, all three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Babalu.
“That fight’s going to have a lot of implications,” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker prior to the bout. “I think that fight, the winner, if Babalu looks good and wins the fight, I think he will be first in line for a match-up (with) King Mo.”
How that all shakes out remains to be seen, however. When Babalu was asked about possibly fighting his training partner and friend, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, he set his sights on another fighter.
“I won’t never punch and try to hurt my friends, but I would like to ask for a fight,” Babalu said after the win. “It’s going to be 11 years since I fought him, it’s a long time, and please, it would be an honor to fight him again, to have the chance to fight Dan Henderson.”
No word yet on if Strikeforce will make that fight happen.
Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis may want to reconsider making the trip halfway around the globe to fight for Strikeforce. Wednesday night was his second attempt in the Strikeforce cage, and it was also the second nightmare for the man nicknamed the “Whitemare.”
He got picked apart by Nick Diaz in January when the two met to fight for the Strikeforce welterweight strap, and things didn’t go any better against Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, the husband of women’s 145-pound champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos.
Zaromskis came out guns-a-blazing, but his firepower couldn’t match Cyborg’s Chute Boxe trained powerful counter-attacking style.
Cyborg rocked Zaromskis with a thundering head kick, kept him reeling with a few follow up punches, and then finished him off with a left hook when Zaromskis attempted a desperate flying knee.
The TKO stoppage was Cyborg’s second straight victory since losing to Joey Villasenor last June, putting the Brazilian back on track.
Tim Kennedy entered his bout with Trevor Prangley wanting to stake his claim as a contender for the Strikeforce middleweight title and he did just that.
He and Prangley traded takedown attempts, Prangley doing the better job early of scoring with a hip toss, but Kennedy remained calm, constantly working for the better position.
Midway through the opening round, Kennedy secured a double-leg takedown, worked his way from half guard to mount, and that was the beginning of the end. Prangley tried to stand with Kennedy on his back, hooks in, but Kennedy did a textbook job of shifting position to secure the angle on a rear naked choke that left Prangley with no choice but to submit.
For Kennedy, it’s now a matter of waiting to see if middleweight champion Jake Shields does as expected and bolts for the UFC. If he does, it’s likely that Kennedy will join Strikeforce’s other top middleweights in a championship tournament.
In the televised opener on Showtime, Conor Heun lived up to his “Hurricane” nickname, throwing everything he could at K.J. Noons, but it just wasn’t enough.
Noons stayed calm throughout the fight, stuffing nearly all of Heun’s takedown attempts and picking him apart with his boxing skills. Heun managed to land a few power shots here and there, but most of what he threw missed as Noons used his boxing prowess to avoid taking much punishment. Noons picked Heun apart with punches, leaving his face a bloody mess by the final bell.
Noons left the cage with a split decision victory in his Strikeforce debut.
Main Bouts (On Showtime):
-Renato “Babalu” Sobral def. Robbie Lawler by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), R3
-Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos def. Marius Zaromskis by TKO (Strikes) at 2:38, R1
-Tim Kennedy def. Trevor Prangley by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:35, R1
-K.J. Noons def. Connor Heun by Split Decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28), R3
Preliminary Bouts (Non-Televised):
-Jeremy Umphries def. R.J. Clifford by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:27, R2
-Hugo Sandoval def. Marcus Kowal by TKO (Strikes) at 0:43, R2