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‘Strikeforce: Houston’ Aftermath, Part II: Brazil Puts Rest of World on Notice

(King Mo was skeptical about looking into the strange man’s pinhole projector, but eventually his curiosity about seeing a total eclipse of the sun got the better of him. PicProps: Strikeforce)

Aside from the hapless Jorge Gurgel – who has lived in the States so long his nationality could most accurately be listed as “Ohioan,” anyway – Saturday night’s Strikeforce: Houston card couldn’t have gone much better for the promotion’s Brazilian contingent. From Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante stopping Muhammed Lawal to claim the light heavyweight title in the main event to  Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza winning the 185-pound strap after a fight with Tim Kennedy that wasn’t really as close as a lot of people are trying to allege, Brazil pretty much owned everybody’s asses last night.  Again.

In unrelated news, Bobby Lashley lost to some guy whose sideburns made him look like he should be playing trombone in a third-wave ska band. All of our deepest fears and darkest suspicions about the former pro-wrestler’s heart and MMA skills were confirmed. Goddamn it felt good.

Somewhere, whatever notes Scott Coker had scribbled on the back of a Motel 6 brochure about the future of his company probably got crumpled up and tossed in a trash can.

Seriously, there’s no way Strikeforce rolled into this event thinking Lashley, King Mo and Kennedy would all lose. That’s just bad luck for a promotion that was already struggling with how it was going to fill its upcoming cards with halfway sellable fights. Now we’re looking at Feijao making the first defense of his newly won belt in a rematch against Mike Kyle? So, uh … is it possible to book a light heavyweight title fight on a Challengers card?

Lashley was reportedly admitted, then released from a Houston-area hospital late last night due to “severe dehydration” in the wake of his loss to Chad Griggs. Previous to this, whenever I’ve heard about people going to the hospital for “dehydration” it’s involved teen pop stars trying to cover up their drug abuse, but Lashley was reportedly in pretty bad shape last night, after video emerged of him leaving the arena on a stretcher and according to some fairly terrifying tweets from his girlfriend. Seems like he’s OK now, though.

During the actual fight, the former WWE “superstar” looked like he wanted no part of Griggs’ striking attack. Lashley dove in for takedowns early and often and the first time he couldn’t get one, the fight was pretty much over. A lot of this just reinforced what many observers already thought about Lashley’s MMA career: That his reluctance to step up in competition was a cover for some pretty serious holes in his game. After the event, Coker said at the postfight presser that Lashley needed to do some “soul-searching” to decide if he even wanted to be an MMA fighter. Ouch.

Feijao likewise pretty comprehensively revealed the deficiencies in King Mo’s all-around game during their title contest. You had to look long and hard to find someone in the MMA media who picked Cavalcante headed into this fight, but it was clear early on that things weren’t going to go Lawal’s way if he couldn’t get his larger opponent to the mat and keep him there. Lawal had some bright spots with slams and a few punches, but overall looked pretty wild in the striking game. His style of hanging his hands at his waist and goofing around in the cage looks cool when he’s feasting on dudes like Mike Whitehead, but that stuff’s not going to fly as he moves up the ladder of competition.

Jacare surprised everyone, including Kennedy, by mostly keeping it on the feet through their five-round affair. His striking didn’t exactly look world class, but it was enough to fairly convincingly out-point the former Green Beret. Despite some nasty stuff that was happening to his face, Kennedy looked game throughout. It was a little bit more difficult to fully support him however when he got on the mic to voice his incredulity about the loss, despite the fact I thought he obviously lost all but one round.

Allegedly, Strikeforce will try to make good on its promise to hold some kind of No. 1-contender tournament to find a first challenger for Souza. But Luke Rockhold is apparently set to fight Matt Lindland at an upcoming show, so it looks like those guys are out of the running. More and more – and if last night’s “text poll” is any indication – it appears we will be looking at a one-night, four-man tourney, if it happens at all.

In terms of production, all of the shortcomings that traditionally hamstring Strikeforce broadcasts remained annoyingly present in Houston. The play-by-play team is still awkwardly married to these meaningless CompuStrike numbers, which do nothing more than undermine Mauro Ranallo’s actually substantial MMA knowledge base. Gus Johnson (and Ranallo) still jump at the slightest provocation to start screaming into their mics and Frank Shamrock has an uncanny knack for saying the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time. In other words, shit is a total train wreck.

I also thought it was bit unseemly that Strikeforce went out of its way to try to bury Jake Shields during this show. The company made it clear that its angle in preemptively releasing the former middleweight champ a couple months was so later it could say that it did on TV. The broadcast team also clearly had orders to casually allege that Shields had turned down multiple opportunities to fight Jacare.

“Scorned ex-girlfriend” is not a good look for Strikeforce, especially now that the promotion will have to scramble to regroup following losses to a lot of its more promotable talent. 

Cagepotato Comments

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frenger- August 26, 2010 at 6:47 am
good article.

i'd just like to add that i think the strikeforce announce team is one of the most embarrassing and godawful 'professional' enterprises there is - compared to the the ufc team and the hdnet team they are just a joke. gus johnson's commentary and interviews and on-camera persona are just cringe-worthy and... well, embarrassing.

that ref hatley needs to be stripped of his ref's license or whatever, and strikeforce needs to get some announcers that actually hold sway in the mma world for good reason.
ghostboner- August 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm
@Jaushaun - fair enough. The fights were pretty good, the ones I have seen. I still wouldn't buy em on ppv though.
joshuan29- August 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm
You MMA fans "in the know" shouldn't take your selves so seriously and just enjoy the fights. Every single fight on that card was exciting and un predictable. I loved watching King Mo get his ass handed to him, and Bobby Lashley showed everyone that he is not the Black better looking version of Brock Lesnar, but perhaps a smaller version of Bob Sapp.

As long as Strike Force has good fighters (Fedor, Jacare, Overeem, Werdum, Mo, Moussasi, Mayhem, Diaz, Del Rosario, Lawler, Henderson, Cyborg, Arlovksi etc) I'll continue to pay that $10 extra a month for show time. Hell, I got to ten relatively easilly when I listed fighters that got me excited to watch a fight on StrikeForce, and there are a whole lot more of them. I remember when UFC had less than that.

Strike Force is no where near UFC right now, and may never be, but I'd say that they are a damn site better than Elite XC, or IFL.

With the few big names they have, the noteriety that they will get from the EA Sports game, and the folks that are MMA fans, not just UFC fans, that will watch all they can, Strike Force is set up to be around for a while IMO
RR- August 23, 2010 at 12:11 pm
Those were four of the lamest fights I've seen in years. Strikeforce can't even put together a card that can impress a 55-year-old woman--how bleepin' sad is THAT?? And Tim Kennedy...he's a great guy...but he shouldn't give up his gig with the armed forces. That was almost an embarrassment. For anyone who thinks that was a close fight.....come out of your parents' basement and get some need the fresh air to clear your senses. The card was a total catastrophy any way you look at it....from the match-ups, to the performances, to the officiating, and don't even get me started on the oxygen cans.....
darciesdaddy- August 23, 2010 at 10:15 am
I've noticed that the most common positive remark about Strikeforce is that people are looking forward to seeing Diaz vs. (Fill in the Blank). This begs the questions; How much do they pay Nick and how long would they survive without him? It seem that their giants have all fallen and the only person anyone cares about in Strikeforce is the guy everyone loves to hate.
RwilsonR- August 23, 2010 at 9:28 am
Also, I think the one good thing that Strikeforce can take away from this event is Jacare. I don't agree that SF intended for him to be beat by Kennedy. This match was one of the high points in their match-making from the standpoint that either winner has a tremendous upside, and SF made this match knowing that Kennedy was an underdog. Personally, I think they should have gone forward with a slower version of their proposed MW tournament built over several events, and built up both Jacare and Kennedy before this fight. But I actually think they have to be pretty happy with Jacare winning this fight, and it wasn't unexpected like with Mo and Lashley. Jacare actually presents more of a longterm upside than Kennedy. Kennedy is a good fighter, who will remain a good fighter for awhile to come. But he doesn't bring anything superb to the table. Even if Kennedy beat Jacare in this fight, and then maybe beat Mayhem, and possibly a couple of other challengers, would anyone really be clamoring for a Kennedy vs. Anderson Silva match? I doubt it. But with Jacare, he has such an amazing ground game, and he has the athleticism to improve his other deficiencies, that if he starts dominating challengers, people really might think he has a chance against the best MW in the world. That is a big benefit to SF.

As far as guys like Mo, the problem is that the holes in his game were always there, but everyone was so eager to believe his upside based on a faulty assessment of his competition - mainly, Mousassi. I think Mousassi is a very good fighter, but people were talking about him as though he would be the only threat to Anderson Silva or Machida (pre-Sonnen and Shogun fights, when the consensus was these two were invincible). Mousassi has some good, quality wins, but he hasn't run the gantlet of quality 205'ers, which are almost all in the UFC. So when Mo beat an overrated Mousassi, he was elevated to the status of potential world-beater, as well. Mo may eventually be a top-tier LHW, but right now some of the up-and-comers in the UFC like Jon Jones and Ryan Bader have actually proven themselves more IMO. It doesn't mean those guys don't have a lot of unearned hype, also, but they have at least cut their teeth on consistently improving competition, and we will see them tested again and again before they are able to become champions. Also, for a wrestler, Mo needs to have significantly better cardio.

RwilsonR- August 23, 2010 at 9:08 am
Another good one Dundas!

@ steampunk - thanks for making us all proud to have defended you during CP's attempt to banish you to some internet gulag. Your comments on this are excellent, and really sum up a lot of the way I felt about the SF event. I'm glad your voice is still around on this site... even your singing voice.

@ Rex and Misanthropy - I agree with you two about Coker not necessarily being entirely to blame for the shit show. If you look at the common denominator between EliteXC and Strikforce, it is the CBS/Showtime execs. The sad thing for me it that where I was actively hoping EliteXC and the Shaws would be exposed and fail miserably, I think Scott Coker spent nearly a decade as one of the most positive influences in MMA back when he was producing a quality regional show, and I hate to see him go out this way. But Coker is also respoonsible for making a deal with the devil and letting these assholes take control of his organization, so he deserves blame for that. I was just really hoping he could succeed with a solid second-tier offering to the UFC, but if all we are going to receive is EliteXC redux, then it will fail, too.

I think when everyone takes a fair look at all of the other MMA shows out there, we probably all owe Dana White more credit than we would like to admit.
ksgbobo- August 23, 2010 at 8:12 am
Btw, Tim Kennedy still is a Green Beret
Sabado Gigante- August 23, 2010 at 7:55 am
How can you look like Bobby Lashley, yet hit like The Spin Doctors!?
DaltonSwayze- August 23, 2010 at 6:23 am
I know full mount is a dominate position and all, but Lashley was stalling after Griggs barely punched him in the face. I think it was a good stand up, because Lashley wasn't doing anything with it.

Of course, if it was just about anyone else in that position, I might have felt differently.
ghostboner- August 23, 2010 at 1:03 am
And another thing, how can anyone look like Bobbby Lashley and hit like Jose Canseco?
ghostboner- August 23, 2010 at 1:01 am
I want to say something relevant but there is nothing left. Strikeforces fights are usually good, broadcast sucks. Guus Johnson? Naw playa. Stick to what you know, which is eating poop. Frank Shamrock? Naw playa, you have fucking braces. Ranallo? He is ok but I would rather hear someone else. Someone like Rogan, Rutten, Miletich or Florian. Even Bonnar.

The referee/judge situation is out of their hands as far as I know, so can't really fault them for that. That is an issue that has been plaguing the sport as a whole of late. All in all, I will watch Strikeforce when it is free, but I agree with steampunk that there is a shiticane blowing in and Strikeforce is in it's path. I think Gus is like a shit magnet really. There is a shitquake coming and Strikeforce is like Haiti. There is a tshitunami coming and Strikeforce is wherever the hell got hit with that thing. There is a shitcano bubbling up in the distended duodenum of the bowels of MMA and Strikeforce is indeed Pompeii, to borrow the steamy one's metaphor. Things really have backfired about as bad as they could.
ghostboner- August 23, 2010 at 12:46 am
Turd Ferguson. It's a funny name. I'll take ape tit for 12000.
Turd Furgeson- August 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm

You reppin' the 806 homie?
steampunk22- August 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm
"^^I say get rid of Johnson and Shamrock, and just pair Mauro Renallo with Pat Miletich"


A team is always better. Bizarre triplicate commentating teams with weirdos "out in the field" like Johnson and Quadros tend to come across as unwieldy at the best of times and down right upsetting at the worst. Ranallo and Miletich as a team would be a step in the right direction for Strikeforce.

Which means we can almost guarantee it won't happen.
Violent By Design- August 22, 2010 at 8:46 pm
Is it just me, or is anyone else REALLY starting to hate Frank Shamrock? Listening to him rabble on, the guy is an idiot, plain and simple. As mentioned above, he always seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and listening to him commentate, you would have no idea that he is a former fighter with 15+ years fighting experience. He is a joke.

I say get rid of Johnson and Shamrock, and just pair Mauro Renallo with Pat Miletich.
ilvbllythekd12- August 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm
Appreciated the Reel Big Fish link :)
steampunk22- August 22, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I think it is an uphill battle for Strikeforce. With the run that they have had this year on TV(increasingly low ratings) combined with the CBS-Team Cesar Gracie debacle, no PPV's, and a string of MASSIVE upsets and fan backlash, it will be nothing short of a miracle to get themselves back on track.

Their big fighters have to start winning because the bankable talent that Strikeforce has is so limited. Coker realizes this and thats why you see these squash matches setup. They try and limit their risk as much as possible because they can't really afford for their big talent to lose. Even if Coker personally would prefer to avoid this sort of matchmaking, I'm sure the sponsors and the Network(s) that are involved have got their grubby little hands all over those decisions.

This sets up a dangerous game of SF putting all their eggs in just a couple of baskets. Coker and CO are rapidly turning into an MMA Hype Graveyard. They killed Hendo's hype, they killed a lot of Fedor's hype, they killed Rogers hype (twice), they killed Mousasi's, they killed Lashley's and they killed King Mo's. They ditched Shields as soon as they thought they couldn't make a buck off of him and ended up looking like jackasses. They reach and reach and reach for storylines and hype and practically every event they have they have to start all over from square one.

Shit, if you go to the Strikeforce website, they still list Frank Shamrock on their roster of active fighters. They don't even have a picture of Randleman or Noons.

At this point I'm sure Scott Coker feels like every time he turns around looking for an exit, he just sees a door slamming in his face. If he got to make all the choices, maybe they'd pull through. If they scaled down a bit, got out of the network(s) pocket(s).

Shit clock is ticking and the winds of shit are a-blowing, though.

I smell an impending shit-icane of Pompeian proportions coming down the pipe. Or I could be wrong. What the fuck do I know anyways? LOL. ;P

I just don't think the future is quite so rosy for Strikeforce.

Hail Mary time in my opinion. But I'm fatalistic that way.
Goog- August 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm
How can anyone look like Bobby Lashley and yet hit like Bobby Lashley?
Randle McMurphy- August 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm
Good article.
MKO- August 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm
You cannot compete directly with UFC. Strikeforce had a good thing going with smaller, low-profile events, but fucked itself over with the CBS deal. Jump at the immediate money, but then you realized you have no depth and an overall inferior product. Realistically, I'd give Strikeforce 9-12 more months. The best an American organization can hope for is to be bought out by Zuffa (a la WEC, offering high level fights in divisions the UFC doesn't have).
Take for instance the original USFL: small money, smaller markets, not going head to head with the NFL, with hopes of being absorbed by the NFL. Then you get someone stupid enough in Donald Trump to encourage dumping money into the league and going head to head with the NFL. Failure within a year. (and the man was stupid enough to do it again with Affliction!)
Bellator was seemingly going in the right direction with its focus on tournaments, but this past season seemed disappointing, and the suit with Zuffa might spell doom.
As far as regional promotions go, SharkFights has their shit together (as long as they could keep their "Dana" out of the ring, postfight), featuring name fighters and young up-and-coming locals. Have been to their past four shows, all great, with excellent attendance.
Almost North- August 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

You'd think being injection molded he would at least have a sweet kung-fu grip.
steampunk22- August 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Cheers, man. I appreciate it.
CapitalQ- August 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm
@steampunk . Truth on Joe. Not so much on Strikeforce. They are fuckin up hard but I think the future holds good things for them.
cecils_pupils- August 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm
With the quality of posts here today, imma say it is prolly about time that steampunk22 pulls a Rex13 and starts writing a piece or two - nice first post homie.

And, as expected, Charming Charlie turns in the least quality commentary - way to stay consistent.