by Ricardo Mendoza for MMAWeekly.com
In front of 10,374 fans at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Strikeforce held its second MMA show, which was exciting right up until the main event started.
In a rematch of their 2005 encounter, in which Alistair Overeem was able to submit Vitor Belfort with a guillotine choke, Overeem and Belfort met again, this time in a cage.
The first round started out with some promise, as Overeem attempted flying knees and kicks, although not too many of them landed. Belfort responded by throwing some huge bombs, but not many of them landed, either. The highlight of the round came when Belfort slammed Overeem to the ground for a takedown. Both fighters spent time on their backs, with neither fighter doing much damage.
In the second round, the same pattern kept repeating itself. Belfort would fall back on to the mat, Overeem would jump into his guard, neither fighter would do anything, and they would ultimately be stood back up again by the referee.
Much of the same would be repeated again in the third round, with neither fighter doing much. The majority of the fans began to jeer, and some of them made an early exit from the arena. It’s hard to blame the fans who left early, as this was an anticlimactic ending to what was otherwise a great night.
In the end, Overeem took home a unanimous decision victory over Vitor Belfort. In his post-fight interview, Overeem stated that he would like Tito Ortiz to be his next opponent.
In the semi-main event, highly popular San Jose-based fighter Cung Le took on King of the Cage veteran Brain Warren in a rematch of their San Shou kickboxing bout from a couple years ago, but this time they fought under MMA rules. Warren came out aggressively, rushing Le and going for takedowns in an attempt to take Le out of his element. Instead, it was Le who took the fight to the ground with a beautiful throw.
Back on their feet, Le landed several spinning back kicks that didn’t seem to faze Warren, who began to taunt Le. The moment when he started taunting Le was the beginning of the end for Warren, as Le came in aggressively with a flurry of strikes that stunned Warren, culminating with a left straight that ended the fight. Le has great potential in the sport. His striking his top notch, but he will need to work on his ground game in order to compete with the top middleweights in MMA.
Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Clay Guida returned to defend his crown against another local fighter, Shooto veteran Gilbert Melendez. In what was easily the best fight on the night, Melendez outworked Guida both on the ground and in the stand-up position. These two fighters put on an amazing wrestling clinic, as Guida repeatedly shot in for takedowns, which Melendez defended very well with his excellent sprawl. By the end of the first round, Melendez had executed several slams and scored with some good ground and pound to take the round.
Guida’s best shot at the win came in the second round, when he was able to get Melendez’s back after a failed takedown. It looked like Guida had the choke sunk in for a moment, but Melendez grabbed onto Guida’s head and pretty much spiked it downward in order to escape the choke. Melendez would go on to control the rest of the fight, landing some wicked shots on Guida. Guida continued to try to take Melendez down, but it was futile. Melendez displayed excellent wrestling skills, and on the rare occasion when Guida did get a takedown, Melendez never had to worry about taking much damage.
At the end of five rounds, Melendez got the split decision win, as the judges’ scores were announced 50-45, 50-45, and 46-48. It was later said that the judge who appeared to have scored the fight in favor of Guida actually gave the fight to Melendez by the score of 50-45, and that the ring announcer merely read the score incorrectly (although it’s not known how “50-45 in favor of Melendez” could wind up being announced as “48-46 in favor of Guida”). It will be interesting to see whom Strikeforce brings in to challenge Gilbert Melendez in the future for his newly won Lightweight Title. For Guida, a possible rematch with Josh Thomson would be a reasonable choice as his next fight in Strikeforce.
The anticipated light heavyweight match between James Irvin and Bobby Southworth never really materialized. After just 17 seconds, the bout was halted under odd circumstances. Both fighters began the fight by clinching, at which point Southworth drove Irvin towards the cage, but the second they hit the cage, both fighters fell through the cage door. Irvin hurt his knee on impact, while the unhurt Southworth simply raised his arms in victory as one would normally do after one has just won a fight. Irvin was unable to continue due to his knee injury, and the fight was ruled a no contest. Hopefully, the next Strikeforce show will feature a rematch between these two fighters.
Undefeated lightweight Tyson Griffin faced the biggest challenge of his young MMA career as he took on UFC and K-1 veteran Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Ludwig never got a chance to score on the feet, as Griffin took him down immediately. Griffin worked some minor ground and pound for a while, and then started landing some very heavy blows approximately three and a half minutes into the fight. Ludwig offered up little defense to several hard blows, at which point referee Jon Schorle had seen enough and stopped the fight. Although it looked like a premature stoppage at first glance, the replay appeared to show that it was not a premature stoppage, as Ludwig took several clean blows and wasn’t defending them intelligently.
Josh “The Punk” Thomson returned to his winning ways by scoring a submission victory with a side choke in the third round of his fight against Harris Sarmiento. After an even first round that saw both fighters score on their feet and execute takedowns, Thomson appeared to be on the verge of ending the fight with a tight guillotine choke in the second round. However, Sarmiento was able to escape, and the rest of the second round was spent in a clinch up against the fence, with Thomson throwing heel kicks and Sarmiento going for foot stomps. In the third round, Thomson scored a takedown and took Sarmiento’s back. After failing to secure a rear naked choke, Thomson switched over to a side choke, which got him the submission victory. Thomson has made no secret of the fact that he wants a rematch with Clay Guida in order to avenge his loss from this past March, and there appears to be a strong possibility that the rematch could take place on the next Strikeforce show.
Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson slugged it out with Mike Seal for almost two rounds until Jackson scored the TKO victory in the second round. Both fighters slugged it out for much of the first round, with Jackson landing great punches and Seal using kicks and knees as his offensive weapons of choice. The fighters ended the first round with an exciting stand-up exchange that had the crowd on their feet. The pace slowed a little bit in the second round as both fighters looked for the other to make a potentially fight-ending mistake. That mistake came when Seal threw a lazy body kick, at which point Jackson caught Seal’s leg, executed a takedown, and immediately secured the full mount position. From there, it was only a matter of seconds until the fight was over, as Jackson reigned down the shots and the referee stopped the fight.
Former WWE wrestler and Tough Enough winner Daniel Puder stayed undefeated with a submission victory over Tommy “The Law” Tuggle. Puder threw a body kick to start the fight, which Tuggle caught. Tuggle used this opportunity to take the fight to the ground, but Puder secured an armbar from the bottom just seconds after the fight hit the ground, and Puder was declared the winner by submission a mere 28 seconds after the opening bell.
In preliminary action, Jared Hamman defeated Scott Graham via TKO at 1:36 into the second round. Ralph Gracie black belt Luke Stewart scored a submission win over Bill Duvall with an armbar at 1:15 into the first round. Clint Cornel defeated Juan Miranda with an anaconda choke at 1:43 into the second round. Chris Amarante defeated Sean Bassett with an armbar at 4:37 into the first round.