Trilogies are typically reserved for books and movies, but fans in attendance at Strikeforce Challengers 17 were treated to the third episode of a mixed martial arts trilogy on Friday night at The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Bobby Voelker and Roger Bowling split their first two outings. Bowling took the first, at Strikeforce Challengers 8, when an accidental eye poke caused an early stoppage and a technical decision was rendered in his favor. Voelker won the rematch at Strikeforce Challengers 11 with a TKO finish.
The third installment finished very much the same way as the second, with Voelker again stopping Bowling in the second round, although it was an exciting road to the finish.
Bowling was leading all the way, getting the better of the striking exchanges, chopping away with cracking kicks to Voelker’s body. Following a slight flashback – Bowling was again accidentally poked in the eye – he landed some tremendous punches that rocked Voelker to close out the first round.
Bowling came out wearing the confidence of the round one in the second stanza, continuing right where he left off, throwing strikes and scoring takedowns. Voelker, however, kept working back to his feet and did so one final time before staggering Bowling with a knee to the face.
In a storybook finish, Voelker noticed he had Bowling hurt. So he moved in and dropped him with punches and finished in a flurry on the ground for the TKO stoppage.
“He was winning the whole thing. I knew he was coming in hard,” recounted Voelker. “I knew I had to wait a little bit and weather a storm, he’d lower his hands or fade a little bit and I’d catch him with something like I did.”
With the Strikeforce welterweight belt now vacant with Nick Diaz moving over to the UFC to challenge Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137, Voelker (24-8) moved into the catbird’s seat to be considered in the championship picture.
“I’ll take (Paul) Daley, (Evangelista) Cyborg, Scott Smith,” he replied when asked who he might want to face next. “All those guys are great fighters and I want to test my skills with theirs.”
Late replacement Shawn Jordan surprised Devin Cole in the opening round, putting the more experienced fighter down and in danger of being submitted, but he couldn’t close the deal. He also dropped Cole with a big right hand, but it was just before the bell and so he had no time to follow up.
The remainder of the fight, Cole controlled the majority of the positioning and was more consistent with his striking, brutalizing Jordan’s ribs with a burst of knees on the ground in round two.
In the end, Cole was fresher, finishing stronger, earning a unanimous decision on the scorecards.
“I trained hard. First time I’ve been able to train full time in five years,” Cole revealed after the fight. “I’m in shape, I’ve been working hard, and I think it showed tonight.”
It can be officially stated that Ovince St. Preux has successfully made the transition from standout college football star to standout mixed martial artist.
Despite a strong start by Joe Cason, St. Preux waited patiently, dropping him with a knee to the ribs as he rushed in. No longer needing patience, St. Preux stormed Cason on the mat, finishing him off with a flurry of ground and pound, causing him to tap out.
With this latest step, St. Preux is ready to up the ante, wanting to step off the Challengers series and up to a Strikeforce main card.
“Oh yeah, most definitely. I think the fans want it. I’m definitely calling out the people, Gegard (Mousasi), Babalu (Sobral).”
Sarah Kaufman and Liz Carmouche were fighting for a chance to get back into the Strikeforce women’s welterweight title picture. Both have been beaten by current champion Marloes Coenen and want the shot at redemption.
It was Kaufman who easily took the honors on Friday night.
While the two grappled up against the fence for the majority of the opening round, it was Kaufman that started to step up with her striking as the first round closed. From round two on, she only upped the ante, stuffing all of Carmouche’s takedowns and bloodying her face with a stiff jab and right crosses… Boxing 101.
Coenen steps in the cage with Miesha Tate next week in Chicago on the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson fight card. Asked who she thinks will win, Kaufman didn’t hem and haw.
“What I need is I need Marloes Coenen to win that title. I need me to be the next fight in there. I want to take that title back. I want to avenge my loss. And I hope that fans want to see that.”
Although he faded a bit late in the fight, Adlan Amagov was impressive early on with a wide array of strikes and impressive wrestling from the clinch. His opponent, Ron Stallings, came on strong in the later moments of the fight, but it was Amagov that won the split decision from the judges.
Strikeforce Challengers 17 Full Results
Main Bouts (On Showtime):
-Bobby Voelker def. Roger Bowling by TKO (Knee and Punches) at 2:16, R2
-Devin Cole def. Shawn Jordan by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), R3
-Ovince St. Preux def. Joe Cason by Submission (Strikes) at 1:12, R1
-Sarah Kaufman def. Liz Carmouche by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3
-Adlan Amagov def. Ron Stallings by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), R3
-TJ Cook def. Lionel Lanham by TKO (Strikes) at 4:59, R1
-Anthony Smith def. Ben Lagman by KO (Punch) at 0:33, R2
-Bill Cooper def. Maka Watson by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:39, R2
-Sterling Ford def. Brian McLaughlin by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27), R3