PRESS RELEASE / PHOENIX, ARIZ. (Aug. 13, 2010) — On the night that Strikeforce crowned its first-ever “Women’s Welterweight Tournament Champion”, hometown hero Joe “Diesel” Riggs upended tough up-and-comer Louis “Handgunz” Taylor and Ryan Couture won his Mixed Martial Arts debut on Friday night at Strikeforce Challengers 10 on Showtime.
Miesha “Takedown” Tate won two fights on the night, both by unanimous decision, to hoist the inaugural Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Tournament belt and became the No. 2 contender behind Marloes Coenen in the competitive 135-pound division. She also may have earned a possible future date with current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Sarah Kaufman.
“Sarah Kaufman, you’re amazing,” Tate announced loudly to the near sold out Dodge Theatre crowd, seeking out Kaufman from the other side of the cage. “I can’t wait to fight you again.”
She later added, “It’s a dream come true. I came here on a mission and I accomplished my goal. And now it’s on to step two and getting that championship belt and getting another shot at Sarah Kaufman.”
Tate used her world-class grappling to control both fights. She beat Maiju Kujala in the first two-round semifinal, rested for a good 35 minutes and then went back at it, beating the scrappy Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano in the final by controlling the ground position and simply out-muscling her Japanese opponent.
Akano submitted Carina “Beauty But the Beast” Damm at 1:48 of the second round to earn her final shot at Tate.
Female 145 pound champ Cris “Cyborg” Santos liked what she saw from Tate on a night that celebrated women’s MMA. “This was a great opportunity for women’s fighting and I’m looking forward to seeing Miesha fight Sarah in the future,” she said.
But Cyborg wasn’t the most visible of fighters watching cage side. That distinction would have to go to Couture’s famous father, MMA legend Randy Couture, who proudly took his spot in his son’s corner for his successful MMA pro debut. “I’m very proud of him and he has a great passion for the sport,” Couture told the nationally televised Showtime audience.
Strikeforce fans will undoubtedly be seeing more of Las Vegas ’ Couture in the near future. He used his signature triangle choke move at 1:15 in the first round to beat Lucas Stark in a 155-pound lightweight match.
“It’s kind of a load off to get the first win and I hope there won’t be a long wait for the next one and I can show some new things next time,” Couture told the media afterwards. “I thought once it hit the ground I would catch him but I didn’t expect it to be that quick. I just lucked out that way I guess.”
Couture said he couldn’t find his jab early against the shorter Stark. “I decided to get where I was comfortable and get it to the ground,” he said. “I’m a slow starter when it comes to the striking. I just locked it in and got the tap.”
The night was also kind to Arizona product Joe Riggs. Down on the judges’ scorecards early in his 182-pound catch weight fight, Riggs knew he would have to come up with something special in the third round, and did just that by pinning Taylor against the cage before the ref stopped the fight at 2:07. “Diesel” was awarded the win via submission by punches.
“I felt great fighting and winning in front of Phoenix ,” Riggs said. “I love my fans.”
He said Strikeforce fans haven’t seen the last of his tough opponent. “He’s a prospect. He’s a big guy. His stand-up was very athletic and he’ll be a dangerous guy for anyone.”
Photo Credit: Esther Lin / STRIKEFORCE