In the end, Fedor did what Fedor does: He won.
In fact, all of the favorites on the main card were victorious in this Strikeforce event on CBS. However, the results alone don't tell the full story of the night.
Fedor vs. Rogers
Fedor was given a much tougher test than expected against Brett Rogers. Fedor had some difficulties dealing with the strength and size of Rogers, but was eventually able to end the fight with a big right hand shot that ended Rogers's night.
Before that point, Rogers had opened up a cut on Fedor's nose, and had even been able to deal out some good ground and pound.
For Fedor, the future still looks very bright. He won, and did so in style. He takes another step towards mainstream stardom in North America. The future isn't looking so bad for Rogers either.
Rogers acquitted himself quite well in defeat by showing that he wasn't overly intimidated by his legendary opponent. For nearly seven minutes, there was little to choose from between the two of them.
Perhaps most-impressive in Rogers's performance was that when Fedor took him down, he was able to keep his composure, and make his way back to his feet. He's clearly put in some good work in shoring up his defensive grappling skills.
If Rogers can tighten up his striking skills, and make a few other adjustments, he can do even better in the future. At 28 years of age, time is still on his side.
Shields vs. Miller
In the pre-fight build up, Jake Shields had talked of a willingness to engage Jason Miller on the feet. Either he was lying, or he changed his decision real fast after eating a few early jabs, because he turned this fight into a grapple-fest.
Miller appeared to be the better striker of the two, but that didn't matter, as Shields used his superior wrestling to control ground position for the majority of the fight.
To Miller's credit, he never really looked threatened by any of Shields's submission attempts, but was rarely able to mount any sustained offence. His big moment came in the third round when he locked on a rear-naked choke that would have forced Shields to submit had there been more time. Shields was saved by the bell, and Miller wouldn't get another chance.
Unfortunately, and somewhat unjustly for Shields and Miller, this probably wasn't the fight that Strikeforce wanted to see. As a fan of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling, I found myself quite entertained, but the apparently the live crowd was booing, and I can't imagine the reaction was much better from viewers tuning in to mixed martial arts for the first time.
Shields proved that he is the superior grappler, despite nearly surrendering in the third round. He has more offensive ground weapons, but Miller is simply a tough guy to submit. Miller has better strikes, but Shields is simply too good of a wrestler for Miller to keep at bay.
Ahead of Jake Shields is a potential matchup with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, or possibly Dan Henderson, if he signs with Strikeforce. Either fighter will be a tough out for Shields.
Shields is essentially a one-dimensional fighter. Yet he's so good at submission grappling that few people can handle him in his element or stop him from getting there.
Jacare is arguably the best submission grappler in the weight division this side of Demian Maia. He's one of the few guys who can beat Shields at his own game in what I think is actually a terrible matchup for the new Strikeforce champion.
Dan Henderson on the other hand, wouldn't do so well in a submission match, but might just have the wrestling ability to keep the fight on the feet where Hendo should have a big advantage.
Either matchup looks extremely tough for the new champ, so perhaps we should consider his preference. Who does Shields want to fight?
He's already calling out Sanshou striker, Cung Le.
Mousasi vs. Sokoudjou
This bout went pretty much as expected.
Sokoudjou's big problem has always been that he doesn't do well after the first five minutes. That truth played itself out here as he meekly surrendered after putting up a pretty good fight in the first round.
Mousasi still needs to work on his wrestling skills and takedown defense, but he showed Fedoresque composure, and capitalized on the opportunities that presented themselves.
It will be interesting to see whom Strikeforce chooses next to face Mousasi. King Mo Lawal probably still needs more seasoning, and there aren't very many other credible contenders in the Strikeforce stable. Dan Henderson might be the savior for Strikeforce here as well.
Werdum vs. Silva
Well, we got a winner, but not very much was proved in this one.
Werdum still has trouble dealing with strikers, but he's better than almost anyone if he can take the fight to the ground. That scenerio played itself out for three rounds. In the first round, he couldn't get Silva down, and was battered and knocked around the cage for his troubles.
As he started to find some success with his takedowns over the next two rounds, he was finally able to score some points, and enough of them to eek out a decision.
Unfortunately, such a performance doesn't bode well for his shot against Fedor.
After watching Werdum struggle with Silva, I simply cannot imagine Werdum as having any of the requisite tools to beat Fedor. At this point, I'd much rather see Fedor against Alistair Overeem, and Rogers against Werdum, but because Strikeforce wants to build up towards a Fedor vs. Overeem showdown, I'm kind of expecting Fedor vs. Werdum in the interim.
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