Saturday night we saw history in the making. We saw Fedor Emelienenko best slugger Brett Rogers in Strikeforce’s inaugural debut on CBS. While the event itself performed well above my expectations, I had a few reservations about the show.
Please note, these are strictly my opinions from one fan’s experience, and in no way am I trying minimize my overall good time as a whole.
So I arrived at the arena about 5:40, twenty minutes before the undercard started and the place was packed. Extremely great turnout. Of course you have your regulars, dudes tailgating in the parking lot with Tapout and Affliction shirts as far as the eye can see. But as a whole it seemed to be a very successful showing for the Strikeforce debut in Chicago.
Got to my seats and started watching Cristian Uflacker vs. Jonates Novaes bout, there was no rhythm between the fights. They just sort of ran right into each other. I understand the event was on a timeline for the CBS show, but it would have been nice to see them give better introductions for the undercard fighters. Dan Henderson walks by, further adding fuel to that rumored Strikeforce signing fire.
The arena is starting to fill up and I notice a lot of Armenian and Russians filing in to support Fedor and Moussasi, respectively. It’s never a bad thing when something like MMA can bring different walks of life into the same building. I was surprised by the people around me who were intelligently talking about MMA and not just what they’ve seen on Spike TV. This was in stark contrast to other events held in Chicago and quite refreshing to see my hometown’s growth with MMA.
So were up to the fourth bout, Jeff Curran vs. Dustin Neace, and Curran is clearly the fan favorite. Being from Chicago himself, this comes as no surprise. The fight ends quickly when it appeared Curran had broken the ribs of Neace, who subsequently tapped.
OK, four fights down, two more to go before the big show. There seems to be a bit of a hold up between fights, but I guess that’s from the quick finish from Curran. I go catch a smoke and see Big Ben Rothwell outside in the smoking section. What a nice guy. He’s taking pictures, laughing at people dumb jokes about his UFC debut loss, a real class act. I overhear some guys talking UFC as one guy is trying to remember that “welterweight Karate guy”. The other says, “Machida, yeah he just beat the hell out some dude a couple weeks ago”. So much for the MMA intelligence.
Oh, it appears the women’s fight is next. Guess Miller vs. Davis will be next. There using the main walkway now with the pyrotechnics, something that seems very WWE to me. Marloes Coenen beats Roxanne Modafferi quickly. Coenen looked very impressive, Wow, was that a slick transition into an armbar.
So its 45 minutes until the live show, and Miller vs. Davis should be up next. Very excited to see this one, Miller is an old childhood friend of mine, and I’ve never witnessed him fight live. So 7:30 rolls by, 7:45, 8:00, wait why is Fabricio Werdum standing in the walkway entrance? Guess the Miller fight got bumped, that’s disappointing.
Another disappointing feature was no build up to the main card. I guess I’m spoiled with the way the UFC goes into the live event, but it would have been nice to give some sort of notice prior to the start.
Werdum entered and it takes Silva about ten minutes before he enters. Great opening fight, but in my opinion, Silva won. From my vantage point, he did way more damage than Werdum. My friend and I both had it two rounds to one in favor of “Bigfoot”. Guess not.
Mousasi vs. Sokoudjou up next, and man people really know their MMA. Mousasi is a huge fan favorite after only his second fight in the US proves to me how popular MMA has become in my city. Another great fight, I thought Mousasi would run right through Sokoudjou, but he put on a good showing at least in the first round. It was actually surprising how easily he was tossing “The Dreamcatcher” around.
Shields vs. Miller and what an entrance by “Mayhem”. A bit too much for my liking, but the crowd seems to love it. Guess Bully-Beatdown is more popular than I thought? Overall a good fight, Shields used his wrestling ability to take Miller down and secure the victory. Crowd actually boos Shields as he walks from the cage. Maybe it wasn’t the most action packed fight of the night, but it didn’t warrant jeers towards the winner. Very disrespectful to a tough fighter in my opinion.
Fedor up next and they start to announce Brett Rogers. Rogers is an undefeated fighter who has a chance to shock the world. Boos start as walks to the cage. Unbelievable. I understand the fans are there for Fedor, but I didn’t expect the fans to boo a homegrown fighter from our own backyard. As soon as Fedor enters the crowd roars. I’ve never been to a live event with that kind buzz and excitement. Fans were up on their feet from his entrance to his leaping right hook that dropped “Grim”. Wow, where did that come from?
So the night ends as expected for Fedor, although not without taking a few lumps from Rogers, who’s shown his ability to hang with the greatest of all time, at least for a while.
As a whole the fights were great. There seemed to be more intelligent fans than not, and no controversy to speak of. I would imagine based on the turnout, Strikeforce could easily return to the “Windy City” and expect the same. For an overall grade, B+