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Strikeforce Challengers – Joe Villasenor vs. Evangelista Cyborg Play By Play

I’m very happy to say that this show is in HD. The last show wasn’t, and this is a great step for Strikeforce. It just makes their challengers’ series seem more important to me.

1. Luke Rockhold vs. Cory Devela

Luke Rockhold

This is a middleweight fight.

Holy crap. Devela came out and landed a shot and as Rockhold was taking a step backwards, he caught Devela with a short, but wide right hand that put him in the ground. Rockhold just hammered him with about 20 shots and for a reason only the referee understands, it wasn’t stopped. Then Rockhold put on the rear naked choke to finish it. Devela was completely out of it.

Winner: Luke Rockhold by way of 1st round submission

2. Sarah Kaufman vs. Shayna Baszler

This fight is five minute rounds. I wonder if it’s going to affect the conditioning since the girls usually only go three minutes.

The great thing about Kaufman’s stand-up is that she sticks and moves. She’s in and out. I’m really impressed with her boxing. Baszler got the takedown and was in the north/south position with a sick choke, but ended up on her back. She was comfortable there, but then they got stood up. Nice round and a complete contrast of styles.

Kaufman kept it on the feet and was picking her apart. Baszler wasn’t able to get it on the ground and paid for it. Easily, Kaufman’s round. Baszler’s stand-up is in slow motion comparably.

The third round was very much like the second. Baszler shot in but Kaufman didn’t go down, and was able to keep it on the feet. She even outworked her in the short time they went to the ground.

Winner: Sarah Kaufman by unanimous decision

Josh Barnett told Mauro Ranello that he’d kill his mom to beat Fedor. Ok, then. Then Mauro lied and said that Barnett vs. Fedor was the biggest heavyweight fight of the year. I think they’d settle for number two.

3. Conor Heun vs. Jorge Gurgel

I wonder if Rich Franklin is in Gurgel’s corner tonight. It’s a catch-weight fight at 160 pounds and both guys are under.

These guys beat each other up standing for the first round. Earlier in he round, Gurgel was getting the best of it, but Heun started to connect later in the round as well. I don’t see Franklin by the way.

This was a crazy second round. Neither guy has any stand-up defense whatsoever so they were just landing punch and kick after punch and kick. Gurgel looks like hell, but he’s rocked Heun a few times and I don’t think Gurgel has really been in trouble. Heun is the one pressuring Gurgel and continually coming forward. Gurgel landed an amazing high right kick, right hand, left hand combination.

Heun started to time Gurgel better in the third. He would wait for Gurgel to throw a kick and then immediately follow up with a right hand. He knocked Gurgel on his ass twice in the round. It’s Heun’s best round, though he probably lost the first two. He put Gurgel on the ground and went into the rubber guard, but they were back up after a short time. Heun has some of the worst footwork in the world, but he’s able to hit Gurgel at will. He also takes insane punishment. This fight featured some of the worst stand-up defense you’ll ever see, but it was also one of the most exciting stand-up fights of the year so far. Gurgel looks like hell.

Winner: Jorge Gurgel by way of unanimous decision

4. Tim Kennedy vs. Nick Thompson

This was all grappling. Thompson had an early kimura going and went for it again, but Kennedy pretty much controlled the round. He was controlling the position on the ground and even got the mount once with a slick transition. If you like ground fighting, this was a fun round to watch.

There was a weird ending to this fight. Kennedy was on top of Thompson and got his back and was pounding away at him. Thompson tapped out and looked to be shaken up. He was upset at the end because he thought he was hit in the back of the head. Why tap at that time, unless he thought he was going out?

Winner: Tim Kennedy by way of 2nd round TKO

5. Evangelista Cyborg vs. Joe Villasenor

Cyborg started out well as the counter puncher. Villasenor was trying to land several Chuck Liddell overhand rights and kept catching air. Cyborg was getting the better of the stand-up, but they were just counter shots. Villasenor got the takedown and controlled Cyborg for about half the round. Probably Villasenor’s round just for controlling the ground game, though he didn’t do much.

The last minute of this round was excellent. Cyborg was scoring with low kicks, but Villasenor was able to set up hit shots well. He continued to try and connect with the haymaker and it wasn’t happening. Cyborg was getting the better of the stand-up to end the round, and if he could just get his hands up, he’d be doing even better on his feet.

Both guys are tired, but Cyborg is fading quickly. He’s also got a cut just over his left eye and he’s visibly trying to catch his breath. In no way did Villasenor dominate this fight. He was just in slightly better condition, and was a slightly more accurate puncher. Villasenor won the round by a good margin, and it probably wins him the fight.

Winner: Joe Villasenor by way of split decision

By the way, they promoted Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg, but there wasn’t a live interview or anything of that nature. Cyborg was there in her husband’s corner, but there was no Gina was to be found.

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