I went online yesterday to familiarize myself with the fighters that were going to take part in the Strikeforce event that would happen later that night. I went to the CBS homepage and it had a section up on the site that previewed all three fights. The conclusion that every analyst (one of these analysts was Loretta Hunt, one of Dana White’s favorite people) came to was that this event was going to play an important role in whether Mixed Martial Arts was to become part of the mainstream Sports lexicon in America.
To use a quote from the cartoon show Family Guy when Brian exclaims this phrase to Peter after he tries to figure out the meaning of the word esoteric, if the Strikeforce event was important into bringing MMA into the Sports culture of America, I would have to say to that “Swing and a miss.”
The fights that took place last night at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee were nothing short of yawn-inspiring. Out of 75 minutes of fighting that took place, there was only one round that kept me awake, and that was the first round fight between Dan Henderson and Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields. You know that the card was boring when all people could talk about this morning was the after fight altercation that took place between the victorious Shields and Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
Light Heavyweight Championship: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. (c) Gerard Mousasi
Before I get into describing these fights, I’m going to try my hardest to make these fights seem interesting, but I can’t promise anything. This fight had a decent amount of hype going into it because King Mo was undefeated and he likes to use the gift of gab in order to psyche out his opponents. However, any sort of hype or sizzle this fight had at the beginning quickly faded about 2 minutes into the first round. King Mo came out with good energy and pressured Mousasi early, but quickly thereafter gassed and laid on top of Mousasi for the rest of the fight. I’m not sure if somebody slipped a relaxant into Mousasi’s drink before the fight or if he accidently got shot in the next by a errant tranquilizer like in the movie Old School, but Mousasi looked like he had better things to do other than defend his belt. Mousasi showed no desperation when King Mo had him on his back, he just lied there like a female singer who’s having sex with a fat, overweight record executive in order to release her CD. King Mo won the fight with his takedowns of Mousasi, he had at least one takedown in every round. But once he got on top of Mousasi, he just laid there. The official decision was a unanimous one in favor of King Mo, becoming the new Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion.
Lightweight Championship: DREAM Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki vs. (c) Gilbert Melendez
After I watched the preview video, I was actually anticipating this fight. Shinya Aoki going into this fight was considered one of the best lightweights in the world, acquiring the DREAM lightweight and absolutely destroying everybody in his path. He even went so far as to purposely breaking an opponent’s arm because the guy wouldn’t tap, and after the ref stopped the fight he made an obscene gesture towards the individual. Going into the fight Aoki said that he was fighting for his country and this fight would be all about showing that Japanese MMA was the superior fighting style. In addition, this fight was one of differing styles, which is always good for a fight. Aoki is a master of the submission game, while Melendez likes standing up and banging. This fight had all the ingredients of a classic: a battle of styles, national pride, and a title at stake. Both men came out for the first round very cautious, feeling each other out for the majority of the round. Melendez connected with a couple of shots towards the end of the first round, and at that point I figured, no big deal, I’m sure Aoki has been punched in the face before, seeing that he is a professional fighter, and he’ll bounce back. However, after Aoki got hit with a couple of shots, he looked timid and almost scared. For the rest of the fight, at the sign of contact, Aoki tried pulling guard and hanging on to a limb of Melendez’, but to no avail. Melendez on the other hand looked pretty good, he frustrated Aoki with a couple of punches, and also roughed Aoki up with some ground and pound. The last couple of rounds were tough to watch because on at least three occasions, Aoki pulled guard and chased Melendez to try and bait him to follow him to the ground. Aoki, when doing this little move, looked like a dog that was dragging his butt on the carpet to get rid of a little cling on. Melendez put an exclamation point on this fight with a fury in the last 30 second of the last round, putting Aoki on the ground with a couple of heavy shots. He might have finished him if the bell didn’t ring, signifying the end of the fight. Melendez won by unanimous decision, keeping the belt at 155 pounds.
Middleweight Championship: Dan Henderson vs. (c) Jake Shields
This was the fight that intrigued me into watching this event. I’m a big fan of “Hendo” and always watch when he fights because he mixes things up, which I like as a fight fan. I’ve heard of Jake Shields in the past, but was not really familiar with his fight style. However, I got a crash course on Shields’ game from commentator Frank Shamrock when he was entering the arena, basically taking a large dump on Shields’ game, calling him “boring” and that he doesn’t “leave it all on the line” as a fighter. Hendo looked calm as ever when he came out in the first round and showed that at least for the time being, he was still as dangerous as ever. Hendo caught Shields with three sharp right hands in the first round, discombobulating the champion, leaving him to fight for his life in order to keep his belt. The first round ended with Hendo looking very dangerous, and it seemed at that point like this was Hendo’s fight to lose. Once the second round started however, Hendo looked like he expended all of his energy in trying to put Shields away in the first round, and that’s when Shields went to work. For the next four rounds, Shields took down Hendo, getting to the mount position in every round, pure and simply beating up Hendo. From what the commentators were saying, Hendo had to cut 10 to 15 pounds a couple of days before the fight, and it definitely looked it. Hendo barely even moved when Shields mounted him, basically allowing Shields to punch him in the face. Shields won the fight by unanimous decision, retaining his Middleweight title.
The best part of the entire evening happened after the decision was made for the Hendo/Shields fight. Middleweight contender Jason “Mayhem” Miller, who won his fight earlier in the night, came into the ring to basically challenge Shields to a title fight. Shields, feeling disrespected with what Miller did, pushed Miller and a huge scrap ensued. Shields’ teammates Nick Diaz and the previously mentioned Gilbert Melendez jumped into the frey and threw shots at Miller. Miller, also the host of MTV’s “Bully Beatdown” got a pretty good beat down of his own. If the event was a great one I would say that this little scrum put a black eye on the event. But since the event sucked, I’m going to say that this little scrum ended the night on a good note.