An In-Depth Review of the Final Strikeforce Fight Card

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAChief Writer IVJanuary 22, 2017

In the blink of an eye, it was over.

The final card in Strikeforce history came and went, and it has yet to hit me.

For years, Strikeforce has been a promotion filled with talent and excitement. From housing world champions like Fedor Emelianenko to special attractions like Herschel Walker, nobody can question Strikeforce's legacy.

The final card was full of finishes. In fact, it should have been called Strikeforce: Mismatch instead of Marquardt vs. Saffiedine.

However, that refers mostly to the main card. We will get back to that soon.

There were two unaired fights that were great, from what I am told.

The first was a striking battle between Michael Bravo and Estevan Payan. This was expected, as both men are noted standup specialists.

Eventually, Payan would win via knockout. Apparently, it was a fun fight.

The other dark match was a coming-out party for Brazilian Adriano Martins, who schooled Jorge Gurgel with his power striking and technique. Martins won a unanimous decision, one of the few decisions on Saturday night.

Then came the prelims on Showtime Extreme. 

We started off with Anthony Smith vs. Roger Gracie, a battle between a midcard MMA fighter in Smith and a world-class grappler in Gracie.

Gracie's standup looked atrocious. Smith outstruck him in the first round before Gracie finally snagged a takedown in the second.

Gracie would win a lackluster fight via arm-triangle choke. His move to the UFC should force him to work night and day on his striking. It looked like a five-year-old karate student could outstrike him.

We then went to a lightweight bout between long-time veteran Pat Healy and young gun Kurt Holobaugh.

This entertaining grappling affair pitted Healy's wrestling against Holobaugh's slick jiu-jitsu. Submission attempts were made, sweeps were used and ground-and-pound was seen.

I really liked Holobaugh's omoplata into a toe hold that he used early on in the fight. Healy has tough submission defense, as that hold looked deep.

Healy's wrestling was too much though.

In the end, Healy won a unanimous decision, but Holobaugh impressed, as he was largely unknown prior to the fight. 

Middleweights Tim Kennedy and Trevor Smith were next. These two fighters used to train together, which made this bout a chess match.

This was another fun grappling fight filled with crazy scrambles and fun transitions.

Smith stayed with Kennedy for the first two rounds. He looked as if he gassed in the third, which opened up an opportunity for Kennedy. 

The finish came in the third round, when Kennedy violently grabbed Smith's neck in a guillotine choke and put him away.

To finish the prelims, KJ Noons and Ryan Couture threw their hats in the ring for Fight of the Night honors.

Noons used his crisp boxing to tag Couture on several occasions. Couture showed his toughness by staying in the fight and getting in some good punches as well.

Noons and Couture slugged it out for three rounds, and the judges were called upon to make a decision. In a controversial split decision, Couture defeated Noons, shocking many in the MMA world.

The main card was highlighted by quick finishes and one-sided fights. The first three fights on the main card were over in the first round.

First, Ronaldo Souza outclassed UFC employee Ed Herman en route to a kimura submission victory. Souza was on a different level than Herman, who took this fight on short notice at a catchweight.

"Jacare" has improved his striking in his last few bouts, which he showcased by nailing Herman with punches and a front kick. Souza's complete game could spell trouble for UFC middleweights.

Next, Gegard Mousasi manhandled Mike Kyle on the ground and choked him out with a rear-naked choke. After a brief striking exchange, Mousasi put Kyle on his back and unloaded big punches and elbows on him.

The choke mercifully ended the fight for Kyle.

That win put UFC light heavyweights on notice. With his performance, Mousasi could draw a top name when he makes the move to the Octagon.

Josh Barnett proved that Nandor Guelmino didn't deserve to fight him. Barnett quickly choked him out with an arm-triangle choke.

There was not much notable about the fight. Barnett quickly took down Guelmino and imposed his will. He did all of this with the flu, which made it even more impressive.

In two rounds of pure domination, Daniel Cormier unsurprisingly put away Dion Staring with ground-and-pound. Staring was a warrior and stuck in there but was simply overmatched.

What was interesting about the fight is that Staring initiated the clinch with Cormier a couple of times. One would think he would not want to wrestle with an elite wrestler like Cormier.

After the fight, Cormier called out Frank Mir and Jon Jones, which could play out in the upcoming year.

Finally, in the only fight that wasn't one-sided on the main card, Tarec Saffiedine won the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship against Nate Marquardt in impressive fashion.

It was easily the best fight on the card. Saffiedine proved he is UFC ready, while Marquardt showed the heart of a warrior.

Saffiedine's leg kicks were so nasty that I doubt Marquardt will be walking on Sunday. It was a perfectly executed game plan that now makes Saffiedine a player at 170.

Another big factor was the Belgian's takedown defense. With that kind of sprawl, he definitely has what it takes to be tested by the wrestling-centric welterweight division.

The main event was a good way to end the promotion, even though the rest of the main attractions were lopsided fights. This card almost didn't do the promotion justice after the great wars put on over the years.

However, Strikeforce can now be laid to rest. It brought us fun moments and made names for fighters. 

Best of luck in the future to all Strikeforce veterans.


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