("I know people been saying Alistair looks like a completely different fighter these days, but damn …")
Though it sounds like a crazy dream, it’s very close to becoming reality: Alistair Overeem, here in America, poised to actually defend the Strikeforce heavyweight title he won more than two years ago. Would it be wrong to admit – given the company’s recent track record – that leading up to this show we halfway expected Overeem to pop positive for PEDs, get pulled from tonight’s main event and send Strikeforce skidding into an Affliction-style tailspin of death and despair? Luckily, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Thanks, Missouri Office of Athletics.
Instead, the bell may have unexpectedly tolled for another fledgling MMA promotion today. With that little debacle now in the books, we shift our focus to St. Louis, where "Heavy Artillery" kicks off at 7 p.m. PST. We’ll be live shortly thereafter. Remember to hit refresh early and often to keep the page current.
… and we’re off. After keeping up with the Shine Fights disaster all day, this should be a breeze.
The gang’s all here at Scottrade Center in the STL: Gus, Mauro and Frank Shamrock. I have the Dolby Surround bumping on the home theater so as to accentuate Johnson’s shouting. (Just joking, Gus. Don’t call me, dog!) GJ says get ready for fireworks in the main event. He also refers to Ranallo as "Mo" during their opening exchange. Awkward as ever. Shammy says Brett Rogers proved he’s a legitimate title contender, even in defeat against Fedor Emelianeko. We’ll see about that, as we move to the cage for introductory action.
Antwain Britt vs. Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante
Feijao takes the center of the cage, but Britt looks content to circle, at least for the first 30 seconds. Then he comes forward with punches. They trade shots, before clinching against the cage. With four minutes left, they fight their way out. Both guys throwing heavy leather, but neither is doing a ton of damage so far. Britt lands a 1-2. Feijao comes back with a hook. At the halfway point, they’re clinched against the cage when Brittt stumbles Feijao with an uppercut. Then a straight punch, but Feijao recovers and lands a solid knee. Back against the cage with 1:45 left. The referee restarts them and right away Feijao stuns Brit with a big overhand right and then knocks him down with another right near the cage. The ref stops it as soon as Britt hits the canvas, because he’s out.
Rafael Cavalcante def. Antwain Britt via KO, 3:45, Round 1.
In a pre-taped interview with Ranallo, Rogers says he thinks Overeem has been "a bit stingy" by hiding out in Japan since winning the heavyweight belt. He wants to put pressure on the champ until he crumbles. Roger predicts a first round stoppage.
In the hype vignette for the next fight, Kevin Randleman says he’s finally ready to be a champion. We’ll believe that when we see it, I guess. Randleman is coming off a staph infection, while Roger Gracie has just two fights. This one has the potential to be epically, epically bad. Gracie comes out in the gi. Nice.
Kevin Randleman vs. Roger Gracie
Gracie enjoys a huge height advantage on Randleman and he throws a couple of experimental jabs to try to take advantage. Randleman throws a leg kick, which is checked. They both land jabs and then Randleman easily shucks off a clinch attempt. Gracie lands a good knee with 3:15 left. Gracie is really pumping the jab, but only landing a few. Halfway point, not much action yet. Both guys look patient, but to what end? With 1:45 left, they tie up and Gracie looks for a standing guillotine against the fence. Randleman avoids it. A fast-paced scramble on the ground and they’re back up. The round ends on the feet, with Randleman launching a half-hearted flurry. 10-9 Gracie, I guess, for activity.
"I liked it," announces Shamrock about the first. Moron.
Randleman lands a big body shot to open the second, but then Gracie starts to assert himself with his jab and a hook. Shamrock says Gracie is punching like Nick Diaz. Except, not even as close to as effectively. With 3:40 left they clinch against the fence, Randleman starts working for a double leg. Gracie drops Randleman with a knee as they separate and follows him down, working to north-south position, then full mount with 2:25 left. Gracie tries a side choke, Randleman scrambles and Gracie takes his back. With two minutes left, Randleman tries to roll out, but Gracie secures a body triangle and starts looking for a rear naked choke. With one minute on the clock, he gets it and Randleman taps.
Roger Gracie def. Kevin Randleman via submission (choke), 4:00, Round 2.
That one could’ve been much worse. Ranallo informs us that Gracie landed seven knees in that fight. Why must Strikeforce be tied to meaningless Compustrike numbers? Randleman shakes his head during the final announcement, like he can’t believe it. For the record, that’s his 10th loss in 13 fights since 2003.
Now a pre-taped interview with Overeem. Ranallo asks him about the delay leading to his first title defense. Overeem says there simply weren’t any heavyweights to fight back when he won the strap. He credits the demise of Affliction for causing more heavyweights to become available. See, there is a silver lining for everything. He says Rogers is a strong guy, but he also predicts an early KO.
Jacare Souza vs. Joey Villasenor
Johnson calls Jacare the LeBron James of submissions. Does that mean he’s going to totally quit as soon as the going gets tough? Jacare tries a wild hook into a shot, but Villasenor sprawls and they wind up clinched against the cage. Jacare gets the takedown with 4:05 left, straight into half guard. He throws a series of right hands, but is clearly looking to pass, which he does with 3:17 left. In the mount, Jacare lands more right hands, then some hammerfists. His mount is too high and Villasenor shakes him off and gets back up. Jacare lands some knees to the body against the fence and gets Villasenor back to the mat with two minutes left. Jacare dishes out some nice GnP. Villasenor is back to his feet with a minute left, but eats some strikes for his trouble. Jacare puts him back on the back just a few seconds later. From half guard, Jacare tries a kimura, but Villasenor shakes it off before the bell. 10-9 Jacare.
Joey starts the second moving forward, but eats another punch. Jacare looks decent on his feet in this bout. He lands a doubleleg with 4:20 left and moves quickly to half guard. Villasenor again forces the fight back up. Jacare is relentless with his attack on the legs, though, and they go back down with just over three minutes left. Again the half guard. He tries to pass and again Villasenor stands. Joey lands a good straight left, then a low kick. They trade hooks and then Jacare takes him down again with 1:30 remaining. Not much action down there and Joey kicks him off with 28 seconds left. Jacare shoots again, but cant’ get it before the bell. 10-9 Jacare, but he might be slowing down.
The final frame starts with Villasenor trying to work his striking and he lands a straight right on Jacare’s face. Jacare’s nose is bleeding now and he tries a shot, but Villasenor shakes it off. Shamrock calls the failed takedown attempt "crushing" for Jacare. Not sure about all that, but he does look winded. Villasenor presses forward and squashes another takedown attempt. The broadcast team is really freaking out about Villasenor taking control of the fight, but Jacare finally gets him down again with 2:50 left. Mauro and Shamrock really want to give this one to Villasenor. Jacare lands some short shots from half guard. With 55 seconds left the ref calls for a stand-up. Villasenor tries to throw a flying knee, which of course ends with both fighters back on the mat. Jacare rides it out. 10-9 Souza.
It’s official: Jacare Souza def. Joey Villasenor via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2).
Andrei Arlovski vs, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva is up next. Arlovski comes to the cage in a red and black Dolce & Gabbana robe. Silva opts for a fashion T-shirt and a ballcap. Shamrock calls Silva "suuuuper agile," sounding like he’s channeling his inner surfer dude.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Antonio Silva
Both guys are former heavyweight champions, but Silva’s was in EliteXC, so it barely counts. The crowd loves Arlovski. Big John McCarthy is working this baby. Arlovski’s trunks match his robe. Arlovski mixes some punches with a low kick early, while Silva is looking to slug. He landed a few in the opening exchange, too. Silva lands an inside leg kick, but Arlovski matches him with a good straight right. Silva lands a flush left hook, but Arlovski looks unfazed. Another leg kick from Silva with 2:50 left. And then a nice body shot. Then a hard right and a left hook with 2:30 left. That one hurt. Silva pushes him against the cage and Arlovski is bleeding. Silva dumps him on his butt with a single leg and lands a straight left as he falls into guard. Arlovski tries to work his way up against the cage, but chooses to ride it out to the bell. 10-9 Silva.
Silva throws a body kick after some early feints from both guys. Silva lands a jab. He’s countering Arlovski seemingly at will, landing a left that stumbles the smaller fighter back against the cage, where they clinch again. They trade uppercuts in close, but BJM breaks it up with 2:50 left. Silva shoots, but Arlovski fends it off and gets double under-hooks. Silva reverses him against the cage and tries a leg trip, but it fails. At 1:41, another restart from BJM. Silva switches to a southpaw stance. Really? Wow, OK. Arlovski tosses out a leg kick, then eats a jab. They clinch against the fence again with 40 seconds left. Both guys wing punches as they move briefly back to center, before heading back to the fence for the end of the round. 10-9 Silva.
Silva looks every bit like the better boxer here, which is shocking. After 45 seconds of feeling each other out on the feet, Silva pushes him against the chain link. With 3:35 on the clock, BJM starts them over. Silva comes forward and lands a right hand that gets the waterworks going from Arlovski’s nose again. Back to the fence. Another restart. You see the pattern developing? Arlovski lands an inside leg kick and a right hook. But they head back to the cage with 1:50 on the clock. Silva digging for that takedown again, and he gets it with 1:30 left. He passes to half guard, then stands to dish out some punches. They stand up against the cage and BJM restarts them with 15 seconds left. Silva drops his hands and clowns Arlovski with a dance before the bell. 10-9 Silva.
That was a surprise, but the decision is not: Antonio Silva def. Andrei Arlovski via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3).
Shamrock said before the fight that takedowns would be the key for Silva and so he’s sticking to that being the most important factor in the win, even though it’s not even kind of true. Silva thoroughly outstruck Arlovski en route to the win.
According to tonight’s viewer poll, 95 percent of Strikeforce fans think the main event will end via knockout. C’mon people, quit playing it safe. That fight is next.
Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers
Rogers tosses out Xtreme Couture shirts to the fans as he enters. Ranallo describes Overeem as "a man with muscles upon muscles." Shamrock says even Overeem’s hair follicles have muscles. Really? We’re going to extol the virtues of Overeem’s build with a straight face? Whatever. The time for jokes is over, it’s time to fight.
Overeem takes the center of the cage. Rogers tosses out some jabs from distance. Overeem lands a hard low kick, then an inside kick. Rogers looks a bit skittish. Another inside leg kick by the champ. From a brief clinch, Overeem tosses Rogers to the canvas with seeming ease and lands some punches on his way down to side control. He lands a knee to the body with three minutes remaining and crams Rogers against the fence. Overeem looks patient and lands a series of punches to Rogers, who is just covering up. An another vicious onslaught of punches causes Rogers to roll over. The shots keep raining and Big John steps in to stop the fight.
Alistair Overeem def. Brett Rogers via TKO, 3:40, round 1.
Short and sweet for Overeem. Rogers never got started. The replay shows that The Grim may not have taken a ton of flush shots on the ground, but the stoppage was fully justified. Gus Johnson speaks with Overeem in the cage. The champion says he’s back and gives a simple, two-word answer to what he expects in his next fight: Fedor Emelianenko.
Showtime throws it to a promo for "Inside NASCAR," so I’m out of here. Let’s meet back here tomorrow to compare notes.