Strikeforce returned to Columbus, Ohio, for Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey. The event coincided with the annual Arnold Sports Classic. Nationwide Arena was the host for the event's nine fights, including the women's bantamweight championship bout between champion Miesha Tate and challenger Ronda Rousey.
A trio of former Strikeforce champions was also in action.
Longtime lightweight kingpin Josh Thomson met K.J. Noons to determine the next challenger for current champ Gilbert Melendez. Fighting for the first time since losing his middleweight belt, Brazilian Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza matched up with Bristol Marunde. Finally, Sarah Kaufman looked to reestablish herself in the 135-pound division against Alexis Davis.
The night's five-fight main card was shown on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET. Preliminary card action aired on Showtime Extreme at 8 p.m. ET.
Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate by submission (armbar). Round 1, 4:27 (New bantamweight champion)
Josh Thomson def. K.J. Noons by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Kazuo Misaki def. Paul Daley by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Lumumba Sayers def. Scott Smith by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1, 1:34
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza def. Bristol Marunde by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 3, 2:43
Sarah Kaufman def. Alexis Davis by majority decision (29-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Roger Bowling def. Brandon Saling by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 1:15
Pat Healy def. Caros Fodor by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 3, 3:35
Ryan Couture def. Conor Heun by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 2:52
Official Result: Ryan Couture def. Conor Heun by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 2:52
Kicking off the night's action, lightweight Ryan Couture faced a major step up in competition as he took on well-traveled veteran Conor Heun.
Couture used superior striking technique and an active guard to get the better of Heun through the first two rounds. Although Heun was able to score with takedowns, Couture threatened with an omoplata in the first round and a kimura in the second.
In the final frame, Couture's pace proved to be too much for Heun. Couture landed a takedown of his own, moved to mount, and eventually took Heun's back. From there, he flattened Heun out and rained punches, forcing the referee to halt the contest.
Official Result: Pat Healy def. Caros Fodor by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 3, 3:35
A pivotal matchup in the 155-pound division graced the preliminary card, as the red-hot Caros Fodor matched up against "grizzled" veteran Pat Healy.
Fodor scored early with his striking, bloodying the nose of Healy and taking the fight to the ground. However, Healy was able to reverse the position and spent the final two minutes of the opening frame on top.
Healy continued to impose his will in the second and third rounds, using his wrestling to repeatedly put Fodor on his back. In the final round, Healy used a slick transition to escape a leg lock attempt from Fodor and locked on the fight-finishing arm-triangle choke.
The win moves Healy's winning streak to four, and snaps Fodor's five-fight streak.
Official Result: Roger Bowling def. Brandon Saling by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 1:15
In a welterweight contest, Ohio's Roger Bowling battled his fellow Buckeye, Brandon Saling.
The opening round saw the fighters maintain a relentless pace, frequently exchanging combos along the fence. Both fighters rocked one another, and Bowling opted to take the fight to the ground. He moved to the crucifix and delivered a barrage of left hands until the round came to a close.
As soon as the second round began, Bowling quickly secured the crucifix once again, this time on the opposite side. He battered Saling with right hands and the referee stepped in to wave the fight off.
Official Result: Sarah Kaufman def. Alexis Davis by majority decision (29-29, 29-28, 29-28)
The final fight on the undercard portion of the event was slated to determine the next challenger for the winner of the Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey title bout, as Sarah Kaufman met Alexis Davis for the second time in their careers.
The first two rounds saw the bantamweights engage in a standup war. Kaufman scored big in the opening frame, opening up a large cut above Davis' left eye that prompted a look from the doctor. Davis continued, but was on the wrong end of the exchanges.
In the last round, Davis went for broke. She nailed a trip takedown, landing in side control with three minutes remaining in the fight. Davis looked to attack Kaufman's arm repeatedly, but was unable to find a submission.
One a judge saw the fight as a draw, but the other two gave the bout to Kaufman, who will now face the Tate and Rousey winner, looking to regain the 135-pound championship.
Official Result: Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza def. Bristol Marunde by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 3, 2:43
The first fight of the main card featured a middleweight bout that saw recent titleholder Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza return to action for the first time since dropping his belt to Luke Rockhold in September.
The Brazilian met IFL veteran Bristol Marunde, who stepped in on late notice when Derek Brunson was not given medical clearance.
Although clearly overmatched, Marunde managed to survive until the third round against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion. Souza mixed in flashy kicks and power strikes to complement his relentless grappling attack.
The Brazilian took Marunde's back in each of the three rounds, but it was an arm-triangle that would ultimately spell the end of Marunde in the final stanza.
Official Result: Lumumba Sayers def. Scott Smith by submission (guillotine choke). Round 1, 1:34
Also in middleweight action, rising prospect Lumumba Sayers battled heavy-handed slugger Scott Smith.
Smith returned to the middleweight division after a failed run in the 170-pound division, but Sayers made sure it was an unsuccessful one. Sayers got the best of the early exchanges and then took the fight to the ground.
Smith tried to get back to his feet, but Sayers lifted him above the cage and violently slammed him to the canvas. When Smith worked his way back to his feet, Sayers slapped on a deep guillotine and Smith tapped.
Sayers is yet to see the second round in his young career, but has secured two straight wins in Strikeforce. Smith has now dropped four straight fights.
Official Result: Kazuo Misaki def. Paul Daley by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Longtime Japanese veteran Kazuo Misaki used a speed advantage to get the better of British striking specialist Paul Daley in their welterweight affair.
Misaki was making his 170-pound debut, but did not show the effects of the weight cut. Daley seemed surprised by Misaki's aggressive pace, responding with takedown attempts, rather than his usual boxing attack.
Despite Daley showcasing his newfound grappling, he was unable to score with the judges through the first two rounds. However, in the final frame Daley opened up a huge cut above Misaki's left eye that prompted a brief break in the action while the doctor checked it.
Misaki continued fighting and Pride and Sengoku veteran was rewarded for his efforts by two of the three judges at cage side.
Official Result: Josh Thomson def. K.J. Noons by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
In a fight to determine the next challenger for Gilbert Melendez's 155-pound championship, former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson used his superior grappling to best K.J. Noons.
After some exciting exchanges to open the fight, with Thomson utilizing his teep kick to keep Noons at bay, Thomson took the fight to the ground. It would stay there for the remainder of the bout.
Noons desperately tried to get back to his feet, but Thomson smothered him from the top position. The former EliteXC champion showed his frustration by repeatedly rolling his eyes as Thomson pinned him against the fence.
Thomson came close to finishing the fight in the final round with an arm-triangle choke, but Noons escaped the submission attempt.
When it was all over, Thomson earns a rubber match with Melendez by taking the unanimous decision. The fighter described his performance as sh*t in his post-fight interview, and declared that it would not happen again.
Official Result: Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate by submission (armbar). Round 1, 4:27 (New bantamweight champion)
In the main event, two of the most talented female fighters were given the spotlight with the 135-pound belt on the line.
Miesha Tate looked to defend her title for the first time, but the undefeated Ronda Rousey made sure that would not happen. The Olympic judoka secured her fifth consecutive, first-round armbar finish to become the new champion.
In the opening frame, the champion attacked early on the feet, but Rousey quickly clinched and brought the fight to the ground. She quickly locked up Tate's arm and it appeared the fight was over, but Tate escaped and moved to top position.
Tate attacked from the top, taking Rousey's back and looking for a rear-naked choke. Rousey defended, and returned the fight to the feet. She again initiated the clinch and scored with a big throw. This time, Rousey would not let Tate escape. As the round neared its close, Rousey slapped on another armbar and forced Tate to submit.
At just 5-0, Rousey is the new champion.