by Ricardo Mendoza and Scott Petersen photos – MMAWeekly.com

Overeem and Santiago Become Champions At Strikeforce


Overeem and
Santiago Become Champions At Strikeforce



Strikeforce held the
first ever sanctioned MMA tournament in California as four middleweights vied
for the right to become the tournament champion. In addition, Strikeforce
crowned a heavyweight champion as Paul Buentello and Alistair Overeem fought
for the vacant title.

In the main event,
local sensation Cung Le faced off against Ultimate Fighter 2 veteran Sam
Morgan. From the onset of the fight, Morgan implored a strange strategy of
swinging wildly, trying to catch Le off guard. Le stayed patient and threw his
trademark kicks before taking Morgan down. This scene would play out throughout
the whole fight. Every time they got back to their feet, Le would easily take
Morgan down.

In the final round, Le
began to let loose with strikes and it paid off for him, hurting Morgan on
several occasions. Le landed a vicious body kick that dropped Morgan and
finished him off with punches as the referee stepped in at 1:58 of the third
round to stop the fight.

Le issued a challenge
to Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock, hoping to meet him in the
cage in early 2008.

Jorge Santiago capped
off a perfect 2007, winning the first ever sanctioned MMA tournament in
California after knocking out both of his opponents.

Santiago squared off
with Bodog Middleweight Champion Trevor Prangley in the finals of the
tournament. Santiago was the quicker of the two fighters on the feet as he
threw fluid leg kicks throughout the entire fight. After winning a battle against
Falaniko Vitale, Prangley looked affected from his previous fight in contrast
to the fresher Santiago. Prangley was telegraphing his strikes and not being
able to get into the groove. Like in his first fight of the night, it was his
knee that gave Santiago the win. Landing a solid knee that dropped Prangley,
finishing him off with two punches before the referee stopped the fight at 2:31
of the first round.

Alistair Overeem has
had an up and down career as of late but tonight he brought his A game against
UFC veteran Paul Buentello for the vacant Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship.
Overeem instantly came out with a flying knee, trying to catch the heavy-handed
striker off balance. Buentello responded with a combination of punches but he
was taken down for his efforts. Overeem controlled Buentello from the top with
peppering punches, staying active enough not to get stood up. Overeem went for
his famous guillotine choke on several occasions but without any success. When
Buentello was able to get back to his feet, Overeem clinched up and landed an
array of strikes, not letting Buentello get off.

Buentello came out in
the second round throwing uppercuts as he tried to catch Overeem but he was
soon put on his back. After some stagnant groundwork, they made it back to
their feet where Overeem beat the fight of Buentello with two solid knees that
dropped Buentello. Once on the ground, Buentello tapped out at 3:42 of the
second round, crowning Overeem as the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion.

Jorge Santiago met late
replacement Sean Salmon in the first tournament bout, as Yuki Sasaki dropped
out of the tournament due to medical issues. Santiago looked light on his feet
as he landed a low kick and Salmon responded with a hook. Salmon then came in
for a takedown but Santiago timed him perfectly as his knee met Salmon’s face,
knocking him out cold just twenty-four seconds into the fight.

In the second
tournament bout, Bodog Middleweight Champion Trevor Prangley met Hawaiian
Falaniko Vitale. These guys just slugged it out for the duration of their fight
with both guys having their moments. Vitale looked good on his feet as he
landed hard combinations that landed flush on a retreating Prangley. Prangley
in return fired back with knees that found their mark, hurting Vitale on
several occasions. This trend continued through the round as neither guy held
back until rounds end and was looking to be the fight of the night.

Prangley took charge
in the second round, as he was able to land flush shots without taking any
serious damage. Prangley landed a nice combination but as he backed off, Vitale
signaled to the referee that he had been poked in the eye. After a doctor’s
check it was determined that he was unable to continue. The fight went to the
scorecards and it was ruled a majority draw, since it was a tournament a winner
was needed and referee Marcos Rosales was given the task to choose the winner,
raising Prangley’s hand and giving him the referee’s decision.


Four Men Enter, One Man Survives

HP Pavilion

San Jose, CA

Nov. 16, 2007


–Cung Le def. Sam Morgan by TKO at 1:58,

–Jorge Santiago def. Trevor Prangley by
TKO at 2:31, R1

–Alistair Overeem def. Paul Buentello by
TKO (Tapout) at 3:42, R2

–Lemont Davis def. Brain Schwartz by
unanimous decision, R3

–Anthony Ruiz def. Bobby Southworth by
TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) at 0:54, R2

–Luke Stewart def. Bryson Kamaka by KO
at 0:19, R1

–Trevor Prangley def. Falaniko Vitale by
referee decision, R2

–Jorge Santiago def. Sean Salmon by KO
at 0:28, R1

–Eric Lawson def. Josh Neal by
Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:20, R2

–Anthony Figueroa def. Pete Sabala by
unanimous decision, R3

–Alex Crispin def. Clint Coronel by
unanimous decision, R3

–Chris Drumm vs. Evan Esguerra ended in
a technical draw

–Dennis Hallman def. Jeremiah Metcalf by
Submission (Heel Hook) at 1:39, R1