Tonight Strikeforce opens and closes the cage for its final time; the organization that started promoting MMA in 2006 has developed, and in some cases resurrected the careers of many MMA fighters. Strikeforce has launched many fighters into contender and in some cases championship status, the likes of Daniel Cormier, Cung Le, Gilbert Melendez, Bigfoot Silva, Jake Shields, and even current UFC champ Ronda Rousey has used strikeforce to bring them into stardom. Others such as Dan Henderson, Nick Diaz, Fabricio Werdum and even Josh Barnett have seen their post UFC careers resurrected thru Strikeforce. So tonight is a celebration and in a way a funeral of an organization that rose to a level that caught the eye of ZUFFA enough to do what they have done to all other MMA competitors, buy them then shut them down.
The night starts with a video recapping some of the highlights of Strikeforce’s run on Showtime. Moments such as Bigfoot’s beating of Fedor, Frank Shamrock’s battles with Phil Baroni, Cesar Gracie, and Nick Diaz; and other fights featuring the stars of Strikeforce are shown. We’re then welcomed in by Ron Kruk, filling in for Mauro Ranallo, who’s at home taking care of his ill parents; the broadcast may not feel right without him. We’re then shown a poll of which moment or moments will Strikeforce be remembered for most, then a preview of the first fight, UFC transplant Ed Herman taking on Jacare Souza.
The first fight of the night started off a little slow but Jacare quickly began to pepper Herman, and then took him down, after Jacare landed a few shots Herman landed an illegal up kick; while Suza had a knee on the ground. For some reason the ref restarts them back on their feet, rather than the position they were in before the foul. This didn’t matter much as Jacare took him down again locked in a key lock, and that’s that; Herman is forced to tap.
WINNER: Ronald “Jacare” Souza 1st round submission (key lock).
Another plug for their Facebook poll of which was the most memorable moment in Strikeforce history, then on to the next fight, they have a little piece about Mike Kyle, and Gegard Mousasi. This fight is all Mousasi, he takes down Kyle, full guard, half guard, to full mount, and he rains down blows until Kyle gives him his back and an easy rear naked; Kyle taps.
WINNER: Gegard Mousasi 1st round submission (RNC).
Yet another Facebook poll plug, then onto an interview with Daniel Cormier to talk about his fight with what he calls a “dangerous man” Dion Starling, “because he was the only one who said yes”.
Next up is Josh Barnett and Nandor Guelmino, Barnett quickly takes the center of the cage and immediately gets Guelmino to the ground, kneebar attempt by Barnett is unsuccessful, get back to their feet. Barnett the gets him Guelmino back down with a leg sweep right into full mount, Barnett gets the arm triangle; and it’s over.
WINNER: Josh Barnett 1st round submission (ring announcer calls it an armbar, but sure looked like an arm triangle to me).
Barnett is interviewed about his future and cuts a pro-wrestling like promo (even using jabroni) and is uncommitted on whether he’s going to the UFC or not.
They recap the prelims, rather than actually show them, which has been one of the biggest criticisms of Strikforce’s broadcasts.
Next up is Daniel Cormier and Dion Starling, they feel each other out to start, and then clinch. Cormier sweeps Starling, elbows by Cormier as he controls Starling; Cormier gets his back momentarily, but Starling gets back to his feet. Cormier starts swarming Starling with some punches, then another takedown into side control, Cormier lands elbows again starling gets back up, but Cormier puts him back down again; this time in full mount. Half a minute left in the round Cormier postures up, and rains down punches as the round ends. Round 2 starts, and immediately they clinch, knee by Cormier lands, they break and come back to the center, another take down by Cormier, he moves quickly into side control. Starling now turns over, and Cormier gets his back, Cormier landing big shots as Starling turns over into full mount. Cormier is raining down blows, as starling is almost defenseless, 1:30 left in the round and Cormier is just teeing off, tis fight needs to be stopped; and now it is mercifully. Ron Kruk says he is impressed with Starling, with what I don’t really know?
WINNER: Daniel Cormier 2nd round TKO (strikes).
They interview Cormier after the win, and he calls out Frank Mir, and then Jon Jones (I’m not sure about that last one).
They talk about the Facebook poll yet again, with Kruk, Millitech, and Shamrock giving their picks on it, Kruk seems like a fish out of water as the lead commentator; and it’s probably a good thing this is his first and last call as play by play man. They then hype up the main event for the Strikeforce welterweight championship, they show highlights of both men, and the fighters talk about what the title means to them.
Main event time and time for the final fight in Strikeforce history, Marquardt has a 3 inch reach advantage. John McCarthy is the referee, and here we go, both men feeling each other out early on, Saffiedine rocks, and drops Marquardt momentarily but he recovers and clinches. Elbow just misses for Saffiedine, lots of clinching for the rest of the round as it is a feeling out process the last half of the round. The 2nd round starts with more feeling out then, Marquardt taking Saffiedine down temporarily, then back and forth with leg kicks and some more feeling out finishes up round 2, as the pace is at slow pace. Round 3 begins with a nice leg kick by Saffiedine, and another by him, they clinch against the fence, they break and Marquardt misses with a flying knee. The fighters clinch again against the fence, knee by Saffiedine in the clinch, right hand by Marquardt; as each fighter is having trouble putting much together. Saffiedine lands 3 really good leg kicks, and is starting to pile up the points, Marquardt desperately trying to find his range, and tries for a takedown that’s unsuccessful as the round ends. The crowd shows their dismay with the fight, as they boo the fighters after the round. Round 4 spinning kick by Saffiedine misses, more circling and another leg kick by Saffiedine, and another. The leg kicks keep coming for Saffiedine, as Marquardt seems to feel the heat and lands a right of his own. More leg kicks land for Saffiedine, Marquardt throws a punch and looks as if he’s fighting on one leg, another leg kick lands, another leg kick lands and Saffiedine backs Marquardt against the fence. Marquardt seems to not have an answer for the leg kicks as the round comes to an end. Final round in a Strikeforce cage, Marquardt has to come out aggressive, but fails to do so to start the round. Clinch against the cage which has been the only other thing happening in this fight, except leg kicks by Saffiedine. They break the clinch and come back to center cage, another leg kick by Saffiedine, followed by a right; Marquardt has 2 minutes to finish or he’s losing his title. Marquardt looks spent as we reach 1 minute left, leg kick followed by a clinch and then a takedown by Saffiedine. Elbows from the top by Saffiedine as the round comes to an end, minus a robbery there should be a new champion (who will never defend his title).
WINNER: Tarec Saffiedine unanimous decision, tough break for Marquardt as he had ambitions of fighting GSP, not going to happen anytime soon as Saffiedine took it to him tonight; hats off to him.
Well that’s going to do it for the night, Strikforce’s last event will be remembered like most of their events, a few bright spots, but overall like most cards over matched competition succumbing to their far superior opponents. It was a slow death for Strikeforce, but one that was seen coming by many once they were purchased by ZUFFA. There were many good moments in Strikeforce, however the organization will be remembered more for what they did for the fighters, rather than what the fighters did for the organization. Though they may not have the success of WEC fighters who transferred to the UFC, many Strikeforce transfers have some potential to make some waves in the UFC for years to come, R.I.P. Strikeforce.
Tarec Saffiedine def. Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – becomes new welterweight champ
Daniel Cormier def. Dion Staring via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:02
Josh Barnett def. Nandor Guelmino via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:11
Gegard Mousasi def. Mike Kyle via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:09
Ronaldo Souza def. Ed Herman via submission (kimura) – Round 1, 3:10
Ryan Couture def. KJ Noons via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Tim Kennedy def. Trevor Smith via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 1:36
Pat Healy def. Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Roger Gracie def. Anthony Smith via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:16
Adriano Martins def. Jorge Gurgel via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Estevan Payan def. Michael Bravo via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:01