Strikeforce closed out 2010 with a bang this past Saturday and yes, I am talking about the abundance of highlight reel knockouts at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Sobral 2. If you like watching guys getting up and laughing after getting punched in the face then perhaps you should watch last weeks fight between Andre Johnson and Courtland Finnegan. But if you enjoy watching guys sleeping in front of large crowds after getting punched in the face then this was the show for you.
Dan Henderson defeated Renato Sobral by KO (Right Hands) at 1:53 in Round One
The first time Dan Henderson and Renato Sobral met over ten years ago, Henderson eeked out a close majority decision victory. It was a different story this time around.
Sobral looked sharp for the first minute or so. He was throwing good kicks that kept Henderson at a distance while avoiding the power. Then he got clipped with a left hand that stumbled him, went for a weak takedown that was easily stuffed, and Henderson ended up on top. That’s when Henderson dropped some big right hands that knocked Sobral out cold. If you had flashbacks of Sobral’s fight with Gegard Mousasi, you’re not alone. At least for one more fight Henderson proved that he still has something left in his tank.
Sobral is in a tough position right now. He’s only 35 years old but in terms of MMA years, he’s a bit older because he’s been fighting since 1997, has 45 fights under his belt, and has taken a lot of hard shots to the chin. I think he could still be competitive against the right people but against anyone with power, he runs the risk of not remembering what just happened when the fight is said and done. I hope Sobral takes some time off to think about things and doesn’t rush back into action.
With this victory, Henderson will get another crack at Strikeforce gold as Scott Coker has already offered him a shot at Rafael Cavalcante and the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title. Henderson still has power in his hands, which we all knew, but he’ll be tested a lot more against Cavalcante than he was against Sobral. He looks a lot more comfortable at 205, which isn’t completely unexpected since it is tougher to cut weight the older you get.
Predicted Next Fights: Henderson vs. Cavalcante – Sobral vs. Keith Jardine
Paul Daley defeated Scott Smith by KO (Left Hook) at 2:09 in Round One
When Paul Daley signed with Strikeforce and Scott Smith was announced as his first opponent, I think everyone expected a highlight reel KO. After all, how could guys nicknamed “Semtex” and “Hands of Steel” not produce a knockout when paired together? Well this fight proved what we all learned in 3rd grade, explosives beat paper, rock, scissors, and iron.
Smith had the right gameplan early. He was working the jab and trying to avoid the power of Daley. Then he ran into the right hook of Daley that stumbled him and it was all over from there. Smith never regained his senses Daley unloaded with a couple of left hooks, Smith tried to return fire, and Daley knocked Smith out cold with a counter left hook as Smith came forward. Daley made sure that there was no comeback for Smith in this bout.
As expected, Smith looked very drawn out at welterweight. I assume he’ll give it another try at welterweight now that he’s used to the weight cut and I hope that Strikeforce cuts him some slack in his next fight. They’ve done nothing but feed him good to great strikers and it’s really taken a toll on him over the years. I know it makes for exciting fights but cut the guy some slack.
Daley called out KJ Noons after his victory so that will likely be his next opponent. While I believe Noons is better suited at lightweight, I doubt he’s going to turn down the opportunity to slug it out with another striker. Daley still has his limitations but as long as he’s protected by Strikeforce match making then he could make a run at the title.
Predicted Next Fights: Daley vs. Noons – Smith vs. Woodley/Saffiedine winner
Robbie Lawler defeated Matt Lindland by KO (Right Hand) at 0:50 in Round One
Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Lindland was a classic striker vs. grappler match up and much to the delight of the fans, the striker won.
Lindland came out and tried to put pressure on Lawler but Lawler was having none of it. He countered every time Lindland came forward with left hooks but it was the right hook that put Lindland down. Lindland spun around to his back on the ground and right when he did, Lawler dropped a big right hand on him that knocked him out cold. It was a strong bounce back fight for Lawler and the possible end of Lindland.
I never want to tell fighters when to retire but Lindland should strongly consider doing just that. He’s losing to good fighters but he’s also 40 years old, is getting out-classed by those fighters, isn’t looking all that strong against lesser competition, and has a shot chin. When doctors were checking on him after the fight, he struggled to remember what year it is. He’s not just getting knocked out, he’s getting knocked out brutally and it’s rather sad to see.
This was a nice win for Lawler but given the quick nature of it, it’s tough to know how much it means. Lawler just continued to show that he has power and if you’re going to slug it out with him and not fight smart on the feet, you’re going to go to sleep. Given his striking background, I hope Lawler gets a crack at Cung Le next. It’s the type of fight Cung needs to take if he wants to prove that he’s still serious about MMA and it’s against a striker, which we all know is the only type of fighter he wants to face.
Predicted Next Fights: Lawler vs. Cung Le – Lindland vs. Retirement
Antonio Silva defeated Mike Kyle by TKO (Strikes) at 2:49 in Round Two
Taking the fight on less than a weeks notice, Mike Kyle tried his best to capitalize on the situation but in the end, Antonio Silva’s size was just too much for him.
Kyle looked very sharp early. He landed a clean right hand that Silva handled well and then another clean right hand that dropped Silva. Kyle tried his best to finish things on the ground with hammerfists, and at times it looked like things could have been stopped, but Silva managed to regain his senses and survive the round. Then in the second round Silva took over. I don’t know if Kyle gassed himself out trying to finish things in the first or if Silva realized that Kyle wasn’t a push over but whatever the case may be, Silva looked a lot sharper on the feet in the second. He was moving his head and feet better and he started to put together some combinations. Eventually he got a takedown and went for an anaconda choke but Kyle managed to escape. Silva stayed on top though, mounted Kyle, and pounded on him until the ref stopped things. It was the type of dominant round that Silva needed if he was going to be considered one of the top heavyweights in the world.
Give a lot of credit to Kyle in this fight. It was very apparent just how much bigger Silva was than him yet he came out firing and almost shocked the MMA community. Now he’ll move back down to light heavyweight where he’s the only man to defeat current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcnate. Strikeforce fans voted that Kyle should be the first fighter to get a crack at Cavalcante and it’s not like fighters haven’t gotten a title shot after a loss before but Dan Henderson vs. Cavalcante is a much bigger fight, which means Kyle will be an unfortunate victim to business. He should still be one win away from a title shot though.
Silva did what he needed to do in this fight. He got caught early but he managed to survive, come back strong, and look good in finishing Kyle. Now it’s just a question of who wants to fight him and who Strikeforce wants to pair him up with. I believe that he should fight Fedor Emelianenko next but that of course depends on whether or not M-1 Global wants that fight.
Predicted Next Fights: Silva vs. Fedor – Kyle vs. Muhammed Lawal
Ovince St. Preux defeated Benji Radach by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25)
With Herschel Walker off the event due to a cut, Ovince St. Preux and Benji Radach stepped up on short notice to round out the main card. Given the circumstances, both men tried but neither lit the world on fire with their performances.
St. Preux had his way with Radach in this fight. He survived an early flurry, ended up dropping Radach, and then went to work on the ground. For over two minutes in the first round, St. Preux had Radach’s back flattened out and was pounding away. I’m convinced that this ref lost money of Radach vs. Scott Smith and thus he was willing to let Radach take a beating in this fight. St. Preux wasn’t landing the hardest shots in the world and had he just went for broke, he probably would have forced a stoppage but it was clear that Radach wasn’t getting out of that position and he was taking a beating. The second and third rounds were more of the same except St. Preux was content with back side control instead of back mount and his pace drastically slowed down. Still, this was a dominating fight for St. Preux and it was nice to see a couple of judges award him a 10-8 round.
Radach has nothing to be disappointed by in this fight. He took the bout on short notice, he was coming off a Mir Layoff, and he was moving up for 185 pounds. I just hope he got a nice paycheck for all he went through. Now he’ll move back down to middleweight where he’s a lot more comfortable.
St. Preux has had a hell of a 2010. With this victory, he’s gone 6-0 on the year with solid victories over Radach, Antwain Britt, and Jason Day. Now it’s time to see what he’s made of. Hopefully he gets a crack at a top light heavyweight in his next fight, even if Strikeforce just feels that they’re throwing him to someone like Gegard Mousasi just to rehab Mousasi.
Predicted Next Fights: St. Preux vs. Mousasi – Radach vs. Melvin Manhoef
PHOTO CREDIT – ESTHER LIN / STRIKEFORCE