Sunday, August 16, 2009

Strikeforce: Carano v. Santos Recap

If you were judging by the crowd response during the first female MMA main event in histroy you could only come to one conclusion: it was a smashing success. Last night Gina Carano and Cris "Cyborg" Santos brought the house down during their fight that highlighted an already exciting evening of action. A heavyweight contender validated his status, a title changed hands, and a long awaited rematch remains on tap. Let's recap the card:

Gina Carano v. Cris "Cyborg" Santos

This fight was a roller coaster ride from start to finish. Cyborg tried to remain on top of Gina the entire fight, dragging her to the ground, keeping her pushed up against the cage, keeping her in the clinch etc. Whenever Gina got back to the middle of the ring she was able to fire off some good straight punches.

Carano was not ready for the overpowering strength and aggressiveness of Cyborg but Cyborg looked a little surprised at how tough Gina was along with how wily she was on the ground. Gina did a great job of escaping whenever Cyborg brought the fight down and one time even got in mount. Unfortunately the pressure of Cyborg was just too much and eventually she wore down Gina until she didn't have the energy to defend herself and Cyborg picked up the TKO victory at the very last second of the first round.

Cyborg is now officially the greatest female MMA fighter in the world and she has the Strikeforce belt to prove it. Unfortunately I don't think she'll ever take the moniker of the "Face of female MMA" as Carano is too big a name even with this loss to lose that title. However, Cyborg now has the target on her back that comes with the title and it will be interesting to see who Strikeforce has lined up for her that can actually challenge her.

This was the biggest female fight in history and it will be nearly impossible for Strikeforce to replicate it so they will need to find opponents for Carano to keep her name on the cards (should she choose to keep fighting MMA). They will also need to start building up one or two new fighters for Cyborg because even though she is the champ she won't draw like Carano would.

Renato Sobral v. Gegard Mousasi

In Mousasi's American and 205 lb debut he impressed big time. Sobral is a very accomplished and talented fighter who has fought across weight classes against the best in the world. Mousasi came in and made taking his belt him look like child's play.

Mousasi picked up the TKO victory only seconds into the first round. It was eerie how he came in as nonchalant as Fedor Emelianenko (who he has been training with not surprisingly) and just dismantled Sobral immediately. While it would've made sense to stand and strike with Sobral, a noted jiu jitsu expert, he took the fight down immediately and smashed through Sobral's guard like a hot knife through butter.

Mousasi's debut was overwhelmingly impressive. The only problem is that Strikeforce's 205 lb division is very underwhelming. I'm not sure who they can put up against Mousasi who can compete with him if Sobral looked like an amateur out there considering Sobral was in many people's top ten lists before this fight.

Gilbert Melendez v. Mitsuhiro Ishida

While this fight went much longer than the rest of the main card fights it wasn't any less one sided. Outside of the first round where Ishida was able to out wrestle Melendez and land a take down or two this fight was all Melendez. Melendez stuffed almost all of Ishida's take down attempts.

The rest of the fight was Melendez flicking out a very effective jab helping him keep Ishida at bay while getting his range for his power punches that often came in bunches. These softened up Ishida to the point that Melendez was able to land take downs of his own against the noted grappler.

Finally in the third round he softened up Ishida to the point where Melendez was able to take his back and pound out Ishida for the TKO victory. Melendez avenged his first career loss and retained his interim lightweight belt. Now he looks to avenge his second career loss and get the real belt back in a match up against Josh Thomson once he finally heels from his broken leg.

Mike Kyle v. Fabricio Werdum

Although this fight didn't even make the two minute mark it was more interesting than I expected. I expected Werdum to take this fight to the ground quickly and tap out Kyle, which he did by guillotine choke. But what surprised me was that Kyle, normally only a light heavyweight, looked very powerful and a little scary for Werdum on the feet.

For Werdum this is a very bad sign. He was coming off a devastating KO to Junior Dos Santos in his last fight in the UFC and now he's supposed to be a contender for the heavyweight belt? Granted he's already beaten Alistair Overeem once but that was a long time ago and he is a different fighter now. Plus with ridiculously heavy handed fighters like Brett Rogers and Fedor Emelianenko in the fold I can't imagine Werdum being a top contender when someone like Mike Kyle gave Werdum trouble on the feet.

Jay Hieron v. Jesse Taylor

This fight was not televised but Hieron won a unanimous decision getting all three rounds from all three judges. I'm hoping we get to see more of Hieron in the future as he is a talented and under valued fighter in my opinion. Taylor wasn't ready for this opportunity (and I don't mean just because he took the fight on short notice). But I'm sue this was a good experience for him and the loss should help him in the long run if he learns from it.

Hieron will hopefully get thrown in the mix of top welterweights now in Strikeforce like Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, and Joe Riggs.

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