Cung Le returns from Hollywood, lightweight champ Josh Thomson tries to make it 2-0 against interim belt-holder Gilbert Melendez, Matt Lindland and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza battle for middleweight contendership, and King Mo takes on another heavyweight for some reason — all in all, not a bad night for Strikeforce’s mid-level stars. Round-by-round results from the Showtime broadcast are after the jump; refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest.
Via MMA Junkie: A preliminary card bout between Bobby Stack and late replacement David Douglas has been pulled from the card due to a "post-weigh-in medical problem" with Douglas. Tonight’s card now has just three preliminary bouts and four main card fights. So no quick stoppages tonight, alright guys? We need to give the fans their money’s worth.
Mauro Ranallo comes out aggressively, telling us that Scott Smith hopes to be the Grinch that steals Cung Le’s Christmas. Frank Shamrock is wearing one of the greenest ties I’ve ever seen. His lips are glossed and his braces are twinkling. As always, Stephen Quadros looks like Kevin Bacon’s wax dummy. Whoever did his makeup should be fired immediately.
Cris Cyborg is in the crowd. Dare we say she cleans up…nice? One of Herschel Walker’s personalities is also chillin’ in the house, and so is a very smiley Dan Henderson.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal vs. Mike Whitehead
Round 1: Lawal looked a lot better at light-heavyweight. But he makes first contact with some leg kicks. Mo lands a left straight and dodges Whitehead’s shot. He lands another power punch and Whitehead tries to clinch again. Whitehead with a very clumsy takedown attempt. Leg kick MW. Mo looks loose, and snaps a counterpunch after dropping his hands for a while. Lawal wants to make this a boxing match. He absorbs a couple more leg kicks. Mo drops Whitehead with a right hand and quickly finishes him with punches from top. Mo goes to 6-0. Whitehead needs to start his diet immediately. Mo gets warned by the officials for spraying two entire cans of energy drink all over the mat.
Lawal def. Whitehead via KO, 3:08 of round 1. Quadros asks Mo if he’ll stay at heavyweight, and Mo explains that he’ll stay at "moneyweight."
Matt Lindland vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
Round 1: Lindland tries a high kick and Souza counters with a punch. Souza trying some jabs. Body kick Lindland. Souza misses a kick and Lindland grabs him, but Souza squirms out. Hard leg kick from Souza. Looping left from Lindland. Souza sticks a right, then a body shot. Lindland grabs him again and takes him to the mat. Souza looking for an armbar from the bottom, but transitions to an omoplata when Lindland defends. Souza starts punching Lindland and is warned for shots to the back of the head. Lindland escapes the hold and briefly threatens Souza with an armbar. Souza on top now. Souza drops a big punch down on the Law and gets into half-guard. Jacare looking for an arm-triangle choke. He latches it on and Lindland has to tap.
Souza def. Lindland via submission (arm-triangle choke), 4:18 of round 1. "Strikeforce is my new home now," Souza says. Quadros tries to get him to chant "ZSHU-ZSHITSU!" but Jacare respecfully declines. Did they say earlier that Jacare can climb a rope with one hand without using his legs? That’s freakin’ awesome.
And here we are, with only two more fights left on the card. Ranallo describes NASCAR as "fast, violent, it’s MMA on wheels."
Josh Thomson vs. Gilbert Melendez
The Punk getting a surprising amount of boos. No love for the real champ? And he’s a San Jose native, no less…
Round 1: Nice leg kick from Melendez to open things up. Melendez shoots and misses. Thomson makes him pay with a head kick. Melendez shoots again and gets stuffed. Melendez kicks, Thomson catches it and throws him down. Melendez bounces up and escapes a clinch. Thomson throwing bombs, and Melendez is on his heels. Leg kick Thomson, and a punch follow-up. Melendez shoots and Thomson defends but eats a hard right. Leg kick Melendez. El Nino chasing with his jab. Leg kick Thomson. Leg kick Melendez, and he lands a good shot in a wild exchange. More big shots from Thomson to the horn. 10-9 Punk in a great first round.
Round 2: Thomson lands a leg kick but gets jacked to the mat with a right. Thomson springs up. Melendez puts on the pressure, but Thomson fires back just as hard as he’s getting. Thomson takes a clinch-knee to the nuts in a fast-paced striking exchange, and the action is paused. They’re back. Thomson working his kicks. Melendez shoots and Thomson stuffs, throwing some punches after they separate. Melendez fails again with the takedown. Melendez catches a kick from Thomson, kicks Thomson in the leg and bulls him against the fence. Thomson gets out and lands a punch. Another hard leg kick from Melendez. Good left body hook from Thomson, and a left hook to the head. Both fighters go balls out with punches and Thomson’s chin is the first to give. He hits the deck and Melendez swarms him. Thomson slows him down with rubber guard. He’s warned for elbow strikes on the ground, which you can’t do here. The round ends. It’s probably 10-9 Melendez.
Round 3: Leg kick Thomson, then a push kick. Melendez returns the leg kick. He looks like he wants to re-break Thomson’s bones. Bad intentions. Thomson tries a reverse kick. Melendez with another leg kick. And another, and a right straight. Thomson fires a punch combo. Leg kick Melendez, and a 1-2 punch assault. Melendez kicks Thomson in the leg so hard that they both fall down, but they’re quickly back on their feet. Leg kick Thomson. Knee from Thomson. Thomson shoots for a single and runs Melendez into the cage, but Melendez escapes. There’s the third horn. 10-9 Melendez in a slower round.
Round 4: We’re into the championship rounds. Hard leg kick from Melendez. Thomson launches some kicks of his own. Melendez tenaciously pursues the takedown and gets it, but Melendez springs up. They trade punches and separate. Leg kick Melendez. Leg kick Thomson, and Melendez counter-punches. Melendez catches a kick from Thomson and sweeps him down, but Thomson bounces back. Another shootout. Melendez jabbing. Front kick Thomson. Great body/head combo from Thomson, but Melendez returns an uppercut. Thomson eats a point-blank knee then gets poked in the eye. Another brief stoppage, but Rosenthal wants him to sack up and get back to fighting. The round ends as soon as it’s re-started.
Round 5: The crowd cheers them into the last round. Thomson looks amped, but Melendez is stoic, very close to avenging his last loss. Thomson clinches and throws in a knee. Thomson blasts Melendez with a right in another fierce punching exchange. They’re firing everything now, and Thomson is wobbled again. The chins on these guys, my goodness. Thomson gets dropped with a right and Melendez is on top once more. Thomson crawls to the cage in an attempt to muscle his way to his feet, and does so. Thomson eats another punch on the way out. Thomson doing his best to look for a late knockout. Melendez lands a leg kick that seems to hurt Thomson. Melendez comes in with a knee, but Thomson clinches and takes Melendez down. He tries to take Melendez’s back, but Melendez escapes to his feet. More slugging and Melendez backs out. Both guys fire the rest of their arsenals in the closing seconds, and both manage to stay upright. An amazing fight that Melendez should take on points. Bring on Thomson/Melendez III.
Gilbert Melendez def. Josh Thomson via unanimous decision (49-47, 49-46 x 2) Melendez says "Fuck Yeah!’ a few times in triumph, and says Thomson is probably the toughest opponent he’ll ever face.
In a cageside interview, Bobby Lashley says he’ll be all business in Strikeforce, not a pro wrestling showman. Dan Henderson says he’ll be sticking at middleweight for the time being. He doesn’t know why people keep talking about a fight between him and Fedor, but if it happens, he hopes the fans will enjoy it as much as he would.
Turns out that Carano vs. Cyborg is the Strikeforce rematch that viewers would most like to see, closely followed by Diaz vs. Noons. Come on, Brett Rogers just got caught!!!
Cung Le vs. Scott Smith
Round 1: They don’t tap gloves. Smith comes right at Le. Le lands a side kick. He misses a head kick. Smith chasing, but not landing. Le throws a reverse head kick, brushing Smith back. Le drops Smith with a spinning back kick and starts throwing down right hands down on Hands of Steel. Smith is just covering up. He might be badly hurt. Le is firing punch after punch with his right hand, holding Smith down with his left. Smith ain’t doing dick. This has to end soon. But Smith explodes to his feet. Le knocks Smith down with another flashy kick, but Smith pops up quickly. Le smacks Smith in the face with a right roundhouse. Smith charges forward with punches. Another reverse kick to the body from Le, and Smith is shoved backwards. A left hand and a teep from Le. Smith with a right straight. Smith clinches to the bell. That was damn near a 10-8 round for Le. His pregnant wife is lovin’ it.
Round 2: Side kick Le. Le shoots for a takedown, but Smith brushes him off. Leg kick Le, then a body kick. Straight left from Le. Hard reverse kick to Smith’s body and Smith goes down. Le in Smith’s guard. Smith is controlling Le’s hands. Le kind of choking Smith with both hands and Big John tells him to quit it. They’re stood up after a stalemate. Smith pushes Le back with punches.Le with two body kicks. They clinch against the fence. Shamrock says Cung Le is only good up to round three, and he would have beaten him if their fight lasted longer. Le tries to toss Smith to the mat. He shakes out and throws some power punches. They clinch again. Dirty boxing from Smith. They separate again, and Smith fires away to the bell.
Round 3: Final round. Reverse kick to Smith’s head sends him stumbling. Le follows up with kicks to the body. Le tossing Smith around with side kicks. Shamrock interjects that Cung Le’s strikes do not hurt, it’s just that you can’t see them. Oh, shut up already. Smith whiffing on some punches. Le snaps a right. Spinning backfist then a back kick from you know who. Smith tries to wrap Le’s head up but Le pulls out. Side kick from Le, then a left hook. Smith lands a right. Smith rocks Le to the mat with a left hook to the jaw! Le tries to get up and is slugged down again with a series of deadly power punches. Smith unloads on the ground and Big John jumps in. Le’s nose is pouring blood. Scott Smith pulls out *another* miraculous come-from-behind victory. Unfuckingbelievable.
Smith def. Le via KO, 3:25 of round 3
Smith calls the KO one hell of a Rockstar Energy finish. Ranallo calls the knockout a Christmas miracle, and says Smith put a lump of coal in Le’s Christmas stocking. Personally, I would have said that Smith lit all eight candles on Le’s chin-menorah, but that’s just me. Holler atcha later, fight fans…