Upsets abound at Strikeforce Challengers 18 as Gurgel, Villefort both fall to underdogs

Strikeforce was back in Sin City Saturday night with their latest offering from the Strikeforce Challengers Series and an event featuring a number of interesting match-ups including a headlining tilt between lightweights Jorge Gurgel and Joe Duarte as well as main card appearances from Pat Healy and Danillo Villefort.

The show featured a handful of upsets as well as an extremely controversial finish with both Gurgel and Villefort being outpointed after impressive showings from opponents Duarte and Nate James. Healy also got all he could handle from Eric Wisely but as able to hold on for the win.

One of the show’s “lowlights” came in the bout between Olympic Judoka Ronda Rousey after referee Steve Mazagatti called for the bell during an Armbar attempt where it appeared Sarah D’Alelio did not actually tap. However, after the fight, Rousey claimed she thought D’Alelio verbally submitted though her opponent disputed the notion saying she in fact just grunted.

Read below for complete results from Strikeforce Challengers 18 including play-by-play for televised bouts:

PRELIMINARY CARD:

Milton Vieira def. Sterling Ford via Technical Submission Round 1 (Brabo Choke)
Mike Bronzoulis def. Chad Leonhardt via TKO Round 3
Nah-Shon Burrell def. Lukasz Les via TKO Round 2
Gian Villante def. Keith Berry via Unanimous Decision

MAIN CARD:

Roy Jones vs. Derrick Mehmen

ROUND ONE: Jones stalks Mehmen to open things up with a few jabs. Mehmen moves in for the clinch but Jones defends, then backs his opponent up with strikes and lands a stiff flying knee. Jones attacks right away but can’t finish things off. An incidental low blow results in a slight pause. With action restarted Mehen wastes no time in clinching Jones, then takes him down and starts working from full guard. The former All-American wrestler throws a few punches and eventually makes his way into half-guard. Round finishes in a similar position. While Mehmen may have ended up on top at the end 5 OZ still gives the round to Jones based on actual damage done.

ROUND TWO: Mehmen goes for the takedown right away but starts bleeding profusely from a massive cut above his left eye. Herb Dean stops things to let the doctor check it out. Dean asks the physician if he wants to stop things and is told the fight can continue. The fight restarts with Megmen in half-guard who picks up the pace, likely knowing his time may be limited given the state of his laceration. Jones can’t escape but Mehmen is doing besides bleeding all over him. Both men are painted in crimson at this point. 10-9 for Mehmen for being on top the entire frame.

ROUND THREE: Mehmen clinches and Jones jumps into a failed Guillotine Choke. Jones seems completely lost on his back though Mehmen isn’t doing much from the top other than controlling the position. Mehmen keeps throwing punches that do little damage but at least keep things going on the ground. Jones tries to back out and stand up but fails. Fortunately for him, Dean decides to stand things back up and checks with Mehmen to see if he wants to keep fighting based on the amount of blood in his eye. Mehmen says he’s down and the fight continues. Mehmen shoots but is stuffed. However, he keeps working and eventually makes his way into half-guard. He passes into side control for a second, then into full mount for the final thirty seconds of the fight. Mehmen drops a few punches after posturing up and should have solidified the win in the process. 10-9 Mehmen for a 29-28 win on the Five Ounce scorecards.

Winner – Derek Mehmen def. Roy Jones via Unanimous Decision

Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah D’Alelio

ROUND ONE: Rousey goes for a throw but almost gets Guillotined for his trouble. Rousey ends up on the bottom after the scramble, throws up an Armbar, and for some inexplicable reason Steve Mazagatti stops the fight. Confusion reigns as apparently things were stopped based on Rousey saying she locked the submission up. Terrible finish. Shame on Mazagatti.

After the fight Rousey said she felt D’Alelio’s elbow popped and heard her say “Tap! Tap!” though D’Alelio denies ever saying anything along those lines. The replay seems to confirm her innocence in the matter.

Winner – Ronda Rousey def. Sarah D’Alelio via Referee’s Idiocy Submission Round 1 (Armbar)

Pat Healy vs. Eric Wisely

ROUND ONE: Looking at the two it’s no surprise one was a welterweight and the other was a featherweight. Healy takes the smaller Wisely down. Wisely tries an Armbar but Healy escapes and goes back to working from the top. Action returns to the standing position with Healy being the aggressor. Wisley backpeadling while throwing a few wild punches and ends up taken down again for his trouble. Wisely doing a nice job defending from his back with hammerfists and another Armbar attempt. Wisely goes for a Heel Hook, then a Kneebar, but Healy escapes. Healy throws punches from the top as the round expires. Not an easy round to score with Wisely attacking well but Healy spending more time on top. Let’s go 10-10, shall we?

ROUND TWO: Wisely comes out grappling in the second and even attempts a Rolling Kneebar prompting the commentary team to reminisce about Oleg Taktarov. Healy attacks from the top but can’t pass Wisely’s guard. Healy moves into half-guard and locks in an Arm Triangle. The choke looks tight but isn’t fully secured. Healy slips his leg out and passes to side control. “Bam Bam” works for mount but can’t get it. Wisely throws an Armbar up at the end up Healy escapes. More convincing round for Healy putting him up 20-19 on the 5 OZ scorecards.

ROUND THREE: Healy pushes Wisely up against the fence, drops down, and tries to pull him down to the canvas. Wisely reverses the position and puts Healy’s back against the cage. However, Healy eventually gets the takedown and does his best to land some punches. Wisely’s guard is active but isn’t enough to fend Healy off completely. Round continues with Healy dropping punches down though nothing solid gets through. Healy lands a few elbows as the frame ends. Decision should go to “Bam Bam” though it was a very impressive performance from Wisely.

WINNER – Pat Healy def. Eric Wisely via Unanimous Decision

Nate James vs. Danillo Villefort

ROUND ONE: The two exchange strikes from the opening bell with neither having a clear advantage in the stand-up department. Villefort lands a few nice legkicks. James responds shortly thereafter with a well-placed headkick that gets an “Ooh” from the crowd. Villefort locks James up in the clinch but James defends, blocking the subsequent takedown and responding with a few knees to Villefort’s body. Both middleweights remain clinched for the next few moments until Villefort lands a beautful judo throw, then quickly moves into full mount. James gives up his back, then defends Villefort’s Rear-Naked Choke attempt for the ensuing 45 seconds until the round ends. 10-9 “Indio”.

ROUND TWO: Second stanza starts off with more standard striking until Villefort attempts a cartwheel kick! It doesn’t land but is still entertaining. More stand-up ensues with James landing some nice jabs. Villefort goes for a takedown and gets it but almost gets caught in a choke. Villefort starts working on the ground and gets half-guard. James starts making his way back to his feet and gives up his back in the process but Villefort slips off and ends up on his back. Villefort throws a Triangle Choke attempt up but can’t lock it in. James does a nice job working in Villefort’s guard and may have stolen the round due to his efforts.

ROUND THREE: Villefort looks tired to open up the third. After a minute of showmanship and striking Villefort shoots in and gets the takedown. James almost sweeps the former ATT fighter, then nearly gets caught in a Guillotine Choke, but escapes and works from Villefort’s guard. “Indio” throws elbows from his back but absorbs a number of blows from above. Dean stands the two up after a few minutes of repetitive action. Villefort tries a knee and a sweet back-elbow but neither find the mark. James takes Villefort down and goes back to pounding on him from the guard. Fight ends with James on top. Decision could go either way with the first frame clearly Villefort’s, the third James’, and the second split in terms of dominance. A coinflip says Villefort wins on our end.

WINNER -Nate James def. Danillo Villefort via Unanimous Decision

Jorge Gurgel vs. Joe Duarte

ROUND ONE: Both fighters are patient in the opening minute, feeling each other out and looking for opportunities. Gurgel lands a nice lowkick but other than that no real damage has been done. Three minutes in and things remain at a leisurely pace. With 90 seconds remaining Gurgel goes for a takedown but Duarte fends it off. Duarte lands a nice right hand during an exchange, then successfully takes Gurgel down in the last half-minute. 5 OZ gives the round to Duarte based on his grappling defense/offense but ultimate a very close frame.

ROUND TWO: More poise from the lightweights in the second stanza as neither swings wildly or looks desperate. Gurgel looks to be a slight aggressor but Duarte lands some decent counter-strikes. Gurgel springs in for a takedown halfway through the round but Duarte avoids it. Gurgel tries again but can’t get it, pushing Duarte up against the cage and then backing away. Fairly even battle throughout the rest of the round with Gurgel stuffing a takedown. Another close one on the scorecards but also Duarte’s for the most part.

ROUND THREE: Gurgel picks up the pace in the third and immediately puts Duarte’s back on the fence. Duarte escapes and the two go back to cautiously striking. Gurgel throws a combo and tries to clinch but Duarte circles out and resets in the middle of the ring. Gurgel keeps up the pace and locks his arms around Duarte’s waist. He tries a takedown but ends up reversed and in Duarte’s mount. Gurgel makes his way back to full guard. Gurgel can’t escape and starts eating strikes from above. For some reason Duarte decides to stand back up and they go back to striking. Unless Gurgel does something major in the final minute it looks Duarte will pick up his first win over an opponent who actually has professional win in his last four fights. Duarte gets a late takedown and likely secures the victory.

WINNER – Joe Duarte def. Jorge Gurgel via Unanimous Decision

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