September 30, 2007

by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Scott Petersen – MMAWeekly.com)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. – Strikeforce made history on Saturday night in conjunction with Bodog Fight as they held the first ever mixed martial arts event at the infamous Playboy Mansion.

In the main event, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez (the number three-ranked lightweight in the world) returned to MMA competition after a nine month hiatus to take on Shooto veteran Tetsuji Kato. Melendez was the first to attack, attempting a takedown that Kato defended well. Melendez found his range a little later in the round as he dropped Kato with a flurry of punches. Melendez injured his right hand, but he continued to war on as he tried to finish the fight, but Kato survived Melendez’s onslaught on the ground. By round’s end, Kato’s face began to show the effects.

The next two rounds would play out much the same with Melendez out hustling Kato on the feet with crisper combinations. At the end of the fight, Kato’s face was an absolute mess as Melendez walked away with a unanimous decision victory.

UFC veteran Joe Riggs made his Strikeforce debut, taking on local draw Eugene Jackson. Riggs started the fight cautiously, as he didn’t commit with his strikes and Jackson had the same mind frame. Riggs finally let loose and dropped Jackson with a flurry of punches, mounting him and getting his back before transitioning to an armbar that Jackson narrowly escaped. Riggs poured on the punishment for the rest of the fight as he dropped tons of bombs that eventually made the referee stop the fight at 3:56 of the first round.

It took awhile for Josh Thomson to get going but once he did it was all she wrote for Adam Lynn. Both fighters clinched up for the majority of the first round with neither getting an advantage over the other. Once they were separated, Thomson took full advantage and unloaded a punch that dropped Lynn, following it up with strikes to finish the fight. The referee finally halted the fight at 4:45 of the first round.

Up-and-coming lightweights Billy Evangelista and Clint Coronel put on the fight of the night as both fighters tried to take each others’ heads off from the get-go. Evangelista landed the crisper and more effective shots with Coronel throwing the harder looping punches. These guys just fought an incredibly intense battle, which set the pace for the rest of the show. With the fight being almost even going into the final round, Evangelista scored a much-needed takedown that might have won him the fight in what was a close battle of attrition. Evangelista ended up winning a close split decision victory over Coronel with scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 30-27.

In a battle of Bodog fighters, the tall and lanky Matt Lee took on American Top Team fighter Jorge Masvidal. Lee scored with punches right off the bat that forced Masvidal to attempt a takedown. Once they got to their feet, Masvidal unleashed a flurry of vicious punches that dropped Lee as he finished him with strikes at 1:33 of the first round.

One of the most anticipated fights of night ended in disappointment, as Bill Mahood was unable to continue battle with Bobby Southworth. After some initial jousting, Southworth took Mahood down. From there he landed a couple of body blows, which appeared to injure Mahood’s ribs. Mahood verbally submitted to the referee due to the injury just 1:15 into the first round.

Falanko Vitale made his Strikeforce debut, defeating Ron Fields for the second time. Vitale quickly got the fight on the ground and never stopped unloading punches from the side mount. After several minutes of letting go with strikes, the referee finally stopped the fight at 3:02 of the first round.

Strikeforce at the Mansion Results:

– Gilbert Melendez def. Tetsuji Kato by Unanimous Decision (30-27) at 5:00, R3
– Joe Riggs def. Eugene Jackson by TKO at 3:56, R1
– Josh Thomson def. Adam Lynn by TKO at 4:45, R1
– Billy Evangelista def. Clint Coronel by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27) at 5:00, R3
– Jorge Masvidal def. Matt Lee by TKO at 1:33, R1
– Bobby Southworth def. Bill Mahood by TKO (Verbal Submission), at 1:15, R1
– Falaniko Vitale def. Ron Fields by Submission (Strikes) at 3:02, R3
– Daniel Puder def. Richard Dalton by Unanimous Decision (All Three 30-27) at 5:00, R3
– Dewey Cooper def. Adam Smith by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) at 5:00, R3
– Daniel McWilliams def. Eddie Millis by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:05, R1
– Luke Stewart def. Sam Liera by TKO a 3:40, R1
– Anthony Figueroa def. Miguel Linares by TKO at 2:09, R1