As often happens when two top fighters hit the cage, Strikeforce Challengers 13 main eventers Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine went the distance in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday night.
The two started off the fight clinching, trading some dirty boxing punches, and a flurry of knees, setting the modus operandi for the rest of the fight, although not at the same pace as the explosive opening moments.
Saffiedine, one of the better strikers in Strikeforce’s welterweight class, couldn’t get off with the combination he needed. He did a good job stuffing many of Woodley’s takedown attempts, but Woodley was relentless, continually pressing Saffiedine to the fence, trading knees.
It was Woodley, however, for the majority of the fight that was able to impose his pace, forcing Saffiedine to react, while he remained on the offensive. It was the most exciting strategy, but it earned Woodley the nod of all three judges.
“Tarec’s a very tough guy. I endured; I pressed him. I think I kept the pressure on him, stopped him from doing a lot of striking,” Woodley assessed, adding, “I did a good job tonight.”
Improving his record to a spotless 8-0, should graduate Woodley from the Challengers Series to a full time player on the Strikeforce’s main cards on Showtime.
He’s definitely moved into the coveted space reserved for title contenders.
Woodley wouldn’t pick the winner of the upcoming Nick Diaz and Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos welterweight title fight at Strikeforce’s Jan. 29 fight card, but he knows it’s a fight that could have some bearing on his near future.
“I’ll definitely be watching it.”
Seven weeks, three fights, nine rounds, three victories.
It’s been a whirlwind holiday season for Ovince St. Preux, but he has turned it all into his fortunes, winning his third straight unanimous decision with a victory over Ron “Abongo” Humphrey on Friday night.
Try as he might, Humphrey couldn’t get his game going against St. Preux, who took Humphrey down for the better part of their 15-minute battle, grinding out a decision.
Humphrey showed flashes, nearly securing a kneebar in the opening round before St. Preux turned the tide, locking on an arm triangle choke. Humphrey also started strong in round two, unleashing some solid punches and following with knees to the head, but St. Preux fired right back and continued his takedown and ground and pound assault, maintaining control for the waning minutes.
St. Preux went into 2010 with a 3-3 record. Now, as 2011 gets underway, he has won seven straight fights, upping his record to 10-3, moving into the upper echelon of the Strikeforce light heavyweight division.
Rising Strikeforce heavyweight Daniel Cormier continued his evolution at Strikeforce Challengers 13, locking up a unanimous decision win over International Fight League veteran Devin Cole.
Cormier utilized his Olympic wrestling skills to stymie just about anything Cole tried to get going. When Cole tried to strike, Cormier would duck under and tie him up, using short uppercuts and body shots to wear on him. Other times he would clinch and trip or throw Cole to the mat.
He did this all three rounds, easily controlling the pace of the fight, dominating the former IFLer.
“He fought well, fought hard. I’m a little disappointed. I don’t think we expect a performance like that at AKA. I feel like I let them down,” said Cormier after the fight, despite upping his undefeated record to 7-0 as a professional.
With the Strikeforce women’s 145-pound division being rather thin at the moment, any solid performance comes with an immediate elevation in contender status. Brazilian Amanda Nunes certainly managed to elevate her status, using little time on the clock to do so.
Nunes came out firing, landing a couple solid right hands before dropping Julia Budd with a straight left hand in the opening moments of their fight. Nunes immediately followed Budd to the mat, finishing her off at the 14-second mark with a flurry of hammerfists.
“She wants to make many more fights in America to get more known in America,” said her translator in Nunes’ post-fight interview. “Cyborg is her final goal, the time will come.”
Now 5-1 in her professional MMA career, Nunes isn’t quite ready for Cyborg, but with five-straight victories, it might not be long before she’s contending.
An Olympic Judoka, Dr. Rhadi Ferguson has made a solid transition to the cage with his training at American Top Team. He added to his unblemished record on Friday night, overcoming a strong start by John Richard, submitting the late substitution 2:00 into the second round with a kneebar.