SAN JOSE, CALIF. – The term “legend” is frequently overused in many major sports
regarding many athletes. In mixed martial arts, the term legend is not taken
lightly. Lately, the legendary status of Frank Shamrock has come under a
barrage of fire from fans, critics, and of course his opponent on Friday night,
Phil Baroni. But the former UFC champion proved that he may still deserve the
legend tag, as he choked out the New York Bad Ass in the second round of their
StrikeForce middleweight championship bout.
Just before the bout, the announcers made the statement that Frank Shamrock tore both the ACL and MCL in his knee just a week ago. It seemed like the former King of Pancrase was making a possible excuse if he didn’t perform up to standard, but just after the opening of the bout it looked like Shamrock may have fooled everyone, including Baroni, who was stunned early on by Shamrock’s jabs and stand-up arsenal.
Shamrock continued to stalk Baroni in the first round and eventually tagged the New Yorker with a good combination that dropped him to the canvas. It appeared the end was just seconds away.
Baroni was able to survive and recover, but every time the fight was put back on the feet, it was Shamrock, not Baroni, who controlled the stand-up fight. Baroni had little to no head movement throughout the first round, and after the fight went to the ground, it was another strike to the back of the head from Shamrock that caused the fight to be interrupted.
With the history Shamrock had in the Renzo Gracie fight (a fight in which Shamrock was
disqualified because of illegal knee strikes to the back of the head), referee Steve Mazzagatti took no chances and immediately stopped the action to take a point away from Shamrock.
Baroni got a chance to recover, but it didn’t help enough because Shamrock dismantled him again on the feet. The fight did make it to the end of the first round, but it was Shamrock who controlled the fight in the second round.
After another good striking exchange that favored Shamrock, the fight went back to the ground, where the San Jose favorite locked on a rear naked choke that put the New York Bad Ass to sleep. The referee pulled Shamrock off of Baroni and with that, the once great UFC champion has another title to add to his trophy room as he wins the StrikeForce middleweight championship.
Shamrock, injured or not, looked like a new fighter… a renewed fighter who learned a lesson after the Renzo Gracie fight. Ladies and gentlemen, Frank Shamrock has returned.
The EliteXC Middleweight Championship was also on the line during the pay-per-view
broadcast. Former Pride and Cage Rage fighter Murilo “Ninja” Rua, who wasn’t even sure he was going to be in the fight as recently as Monday, took on Greg Jackson student Joey Villasenor.
Early on it was Villasenor who got the better of the stand-up exchange, as he rocked Ninja and put him on his heels early. The New Mexico-trained fighter charged in, trying to get a quick finish, but Rua recovered and took control from there.
The Chute Boxe fighter used superior wrestling and ground technique to keep Villasenor from opening up any kind of real offense after the initial striking exchange. Ninja controlled the pace, gaining side control at one point and dominating the rest of the
In the second session, it was again Rua who controlled the pace and thenlanded a big punch that sent Villasenor crashing to the ground. Ninja followed and threw shot after shot. Villasenor could only put up his arms and defend as the referee stopped the fight.
Murilo “Ninja” Rua cried in celebration after living a dream and winning a world title by defeating Joey Villasenor.
Paul Buentello proved that he can strike with anyone in the world, even former K-1 champion level kickboxers like Carter Williams. In a bout that promised early on to be a slugfest, just about everyone was surprised to see Williams shoot in for a clinch and a takedown. He tried to work some ground and pound, but Buentello worked his way back to his feet. Much of the rest of the first round was spent with the two fighters exchanging in the clinch against the cage.
The second round saw a quick exchange to open, and then Buentello landed back-to-back uppercuts that stunned Williams and sent him down to the canvas holding his eye in obvious pain, possibly suffering an injury to his orbital bone.
Buentello celebrated in his adopted hometown of San Jose, as he proved once again to be a valuable commodity in the heavyweight division. When Elite XC/Strikeforce decides to
crown a heavyweight champion, they would be insane not to have Paul Buentello standing on one side of the cage vying for the title.
Cung Le took another step forward in his mixed martial arts career by dissecting and dismantling veteran fighter Tony Fryklund for two and a half rounds before finishing off
the former Miletich trainee in the third round.
Le entered the cage to a huge fan response, and he did not disappoint the thousands in attendance, as he used his striking expertise to overwhelm Fryklund at every turn.
While Cung is still learning the sport, it was Fryklund who blew the biggest opportunity in this fight by not making any strong effort to take the fight to the ground, where he would have had a definitive advantage. Other than a few clinches that could have led to takedowns, Fryklund never even attempted any takedowns.
Fryklund struggled to stop any of Le’s strikes at any point in any round, but he did show he has a tremendous chin after getting tagged with many kicks and punches in each part
of the fight, including numerous kicks to the body.
Le threw multiple exchanges and combinations to keep Fryklund at bay during the fight, and never looked phased during any interaction with his opponent. In the third round,
after stunning Fryklund with one of his precise kicks to the body, Le landed a looping right hook that put Fryklund down for the last time. Now the Vietnamese born fighter moves to 4-0 in MMA, with his biggest win to date coming against a very experienced fighter in Tony Fryklund.
Le will continue to gain a lot of popularity, especially in his hometown, but it still remains to be seen what he will do when he faces an MMA fighter who is able to take the fight to the ground and keep it there. Until that time, anyone willing to stand with Cung Le will likely be in for a long night.
Josh Thomson got another win, this time in a non-title fight, over relative newcomer Nick “The Ghost” Gonzalez by rear naked choke in the first round. Thomson controlled the action from start to finish and once on the ground, he was able to display his superior game. Thomson took Gonzalez’s back and locked on the choke to stop the fight.
In the opening bout of the main card, it was Edson Berto who took the fight on only a couple days’ notice and made short work of his opponent, Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela.
Berto knew that Valenzuela would want to keep the fight standing, so he almost immediately shot in for a takedown. Once on the ground, Berto spun and looked for a leg lock, transitioning into a heel hook that Valenzuela had no answer for. He tapped out less than a minute into the bout.
Berto now moves to 2-0 in Elite XC action (11-3-1 overall in MMA) and should be a tough competitor in the lightweight division.
Many people thought the swing bout of the evening between Paul “Semtex” Daley and Duane “Bang” Ludwig could be Fight of the Night. While both former kickboxers showed up for a fight, it was Daley who controlled much of the action. Daley shot in early on
for a takedown, wanting to show his improved ground game, but Ludwig also showed improvement in his takedown defense. The first round ended without much action.
It was Daley who again brought the fight to his opponent in the second round, as he came out swinging early in the round and caught Ludwig with a right cross that put the former K-1 fighter down for good. Daley made an impressive debut for Elite XC with his TKO
victory over Ludwig.
This show, which was a co-production of EliteXC and Strikeforce, will hopefully erase any memory of the show from three weeks ago that was co-promoted by EliteXC and K-1. Friday’s show at the HP Pavilion in San Jose was exciting from start to finish. With an
announced paid attendance of 10,375 and an unofficial overall attendance of about 14,000 fans, Strikeforce again delivered a great event.
MMAWeekly.com’s Fighter of the Night award has to go to Frank Shamrock, who not only showed up and gave a great performance, but also dominated a very tough and very game
Phil Baroni. Fight of the Night also goes to Shamrock and Baroni, who put on a show in front of the San Jose crowd, leaving no doubt that this was a grudge that had to be settled.
In preliminary action, Nik Theotikis made quick work of Nick Covert, knocking him out in the first round. Mike Pyle took a unanimous decision win over Aaron Wetherspoon. Luke
Stewart finished The Ultimate Fighter veteran Jason Von Flue by TKO in the third. Former pro football player Rex Richards continued his MMA dream by TKO’ing Ray Seraille. Chris Cariaso also exited with a unanimous decision in his bout with Anthony Figueroa. In the opening bout, Seth Kleinbeck TKO’d Sam Spengler.
MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT
-Frank Shamrock def. Phil Baroni by TKO (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:00, Round 2
-Cung Le def. Tony Fryklund by TKO (Due to Punch) at 0:25, Round 3
-Paul Daley def. Duane Ludwig by TKO (Due to Strikes) at 0:42, Round 2
-Josh Thomson def. Nick Gonzalez by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:42, Round 1
MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT
-Murilo “Ninja” Rua def. Joey Villasenor by TKO (Due to Strikes) at 1:05,
-Paul Buentello def. Carter Williams by TKO (Due to Strikes) at 0:10, Round 2
-Edson Berto def. Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuala by Submission (Heel Hook) at 0:47,
-Nik Theotikos def. Nick Covert by KO at 1:13, Round 1
-Mike Pyle def. Aaron Wetherspoon by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-27), 3 Rounds
-Luke Stewart def. Jason Von Flue by TKO (Due to Strikes) at 2:17, Round 3
-Rex Richards def. Ray Seraille by TKO (Due to Strikes) at 0:37, Round 1
-Chris Cariaso def. Anthony Figueroa by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), 3 Rounds
-Seth Kleinbeck def. Sam Spengler by TKO (Due to Strikes) at 2:55, Round 2