Can you believe it’s been over three months since Strikeforce put on a legit non-Challengers card? The promotion finally gets back to business tonight with two title fights — Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal in the lightweight division and Cris Cyborg vs. Hiroko Yamanaka at women’s featherweight — plus a light-heavyweight bout between Gegard Mousasi and Ovince St. Preux that could produce a contender to the vacant belt.
Round-by-round results from the “Melendez vs. Masvidal” main card broadcast on Showtime will be collecting after the jump beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET, courtesy of CagePotato liveblog rookie Steve Silverman; please do your best to make him feel welcome. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest.
KJ Noons vs. Billy Evangelista in the first bout ….
Noons has lost two in a row while Evangelista lost his last bout. Noons is the striker, while Evangelista is more of a grappler.
R1: Both fighters start off cautiously and then Evangelista misses with a wild right. Noons surprises with a takedown. Evangelista easily gets out of it and then takes down Noons, who escapes. Evangelista is more aggressive, lookingto take Noons down and going after him with knee strikes. Noons is very defense. Noons looks to find the range and can’t fnd it. Evangelista closes wiht a hard elbow and wins the close round.
R2: Both fighters are much busier in the second round, although Evangelista is more aggressive. He starts off with successive punches that appear to bother Noons, but not hurt him. Evangelista does not appear to respect Noons. Noons throws a straight right and Evangelista comes up with a quick knee. Evangelista dicatates the pace and may come out with the close rounds.
R3: Noons with big uppercut to start the round. He looks much more aggressive in this round. Evangelista can’t hit him with any punches or take control. Finally, Evangelista tries to get him in guillotine choke and he appears to have Noons, but he escapes. Noon throws a great left hook. Both fighters are tired heading into the last minute. Then a series of hard punches and Noon has the advantage. Noon wins this round but is it enough to secure the win?
Decision: KJ Noons wins the unanimous hometown decision over Evangelista, 29-28.
Next Bout: Gegard Mousasi vs. Ovince St. Preux
St. Preux, a former defensive end and linebacker from Tennessee, has won his last eight fights at the light heavyweight level. He’s all ground and pound. Mousasi, a former light-heavyweight champion, struggles as a wrestler. He wants to control the pace and keep St. Preux from fighting at a high speed and throwing significant bombs early.
R1: OSP with reach advantage and speed in early moments, but he looks awkward kicking and fails to deliver any serious blows or kicks. Mousasi with a kick and and a flurry. He then deflects OSP’s kick and throws him to the ground. Mousasi delivers ground and pound attack. He delivers vicious elbows and punches. He controls the round and while OSP gets a reverse, Mousasi regains control before the end of the round and dominates round 1.
R2: Mousasi gains control at the start of the round and there’s more ground and pound. OSP can’t do anything and Mousasi is very content to throw left forearms, punches and elbows. Eventurally they stand up at referee’s direction and OSP finally gains the advantage. He is trying to deliver lefts and rights himself, but is not as effective as Mousasi. With 30 seconds to go, both men stand up and round ends with Mousasi remaining in control. He wins round 2.
R3:Quick left foot by Mousasi to start the round. Mousasi with standing control, but OSP drives him to ground and gains side control. Starts to ground and pound and is fairly effective, but not as strong as when Mousasi had control. Mousasi drives OSP across the right and then regains control. In final minute OSP knows he needs a knockout and is looking for the big punch. Mousasi in protection mode and makes it through the round and should win the fight.
Decision: Mousasi wins unanimous decision, 29-28
Next bout: Cris Cyborg vs. Hiroko Yamanaka
Cyborg is a relentless fighter and a huge favorite in this bout. She is furious and powerful. Yamanaka is going to have to prove she has the speed and quickness to avoid those powerful punches.
Cyborg and Yamanaka for the Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Title
R1: In a matter of seconds, Cyborg wins the fight. She delivers a hard right hand and knocks down Yamanaka. She was badly hurt and got up and Cyborg delivered several more hard blows and went down again. The referee immediately stopped the fight. Cyborg defends her title.
Cyborg wins fight by KO at the 16 second mark.
The stats showed that Cyborg landed 15 of 21 punches and they were all power punches. Yamanaka was completely overwhelmed by the strength of her opponent and had no chance to compete. Cyborg dominated with her intensity and power and is a major force.
Final Strikeforce fight of the night: Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal coming up.
Lightweight title bout, with Melendez defending his title.
Melendez should bring the pain against a very game opponent. He is simply too skilled for Masvidal.
R1: Slow start and then a 1-2 combination by Melendez. Melendez is using his boxing skills to set the pace. Masvidal throwing a few jabs, but very slow to compete. Melendez wiht a hard right power punch. Melendez with a right kick and then Mavidal with a jumping kick. Masvidal with a kick to the left heel drops Melendez but champion jumps right up. Melendez catches kick and tries to punish with guillotine choke. Melendez throws a straight right hand and Masvidal closes with a right kick. Melendez busier and more effective throughout the round, but Masvidal started to get warmed up as round progressed.
R2: Masvidal is very upright and appears to be an easy target. Kick by Masvidal followed by hard right by Melendez. Melendez shuts down Masvidal right kick. A series 1-2 combinations by Melendez. Straight left by Masvidal, but Melendez is much more aggressive at this point. Good knee by Masvidal. That knee has given Masvidal more confidence. Action slows in the final minute and Melendez appears to have edge in this round as well.
R3: Melendez using boxing skills to set pace a the start of the third round. Masvidal is just hoping that Melendez makes a mistake so he can deliver a hard kick or punch. However, Masvidal does not look capable of throwing combinations. Jumping knee by Masvidal is effective. Melendez seems to be growing more comfortable and then Masvidal finally delivers a combination. Melendez is starting to get a mouse under his right eye. Melendez throws a sloppy kick. Busy final minute for both fighters and Melendez back to throwing combinations. This round is virtually even.
R4: Melendez with a few jabs and then a charging combination. He does not appear to be hurting Masvidal, but he is the aggressor. This Strikeforce fight is all about boxing skills. Melendez appears to be very happy with a boxing match and he is using his jab effectively and following up with his right. Masivdal throws a solid right jab and catches Melendez and backs him up for a second. Melendez wants to throw a big right and he is coming closer to delivering it as the round moves along. Big right by Melendez as his right eye closes. This could make a difference in the final round. Melendez blocks a knee from Masvidal in the final seconds. Slight edge in this round to Melendez.
R5: Masvidal needs to stop Melendez but he doesn’t show the quickness to throw combinations. Melendez is still aggressive and is getting in more rights as the round progresses. Great combination by Melendez. He circles to his left and throws combos. Masvidal throws a jab and it’s effective but there are no combinations. Melendez throwing punches, remaining busy and appears to be tireless. Jumping kick by Masvidal and Melendez follows with punch combination. Where is Masvidal’s urgency. Final minute of the fight and he acts like he’s sparring in the gym. Final minute and both men are throwing big punches. Close round but give it to the champion. He has to win this decision.
Decision: Melendez win unanimous decision. Two judges have it 50-45, the other has it 49-46. Melendez had the edge in power punches by better than 4 to 1.
Both Cyborg and Melendez were heavy favorites and both were big winners. Cyborg with a spectacular knockout while Melendez with boxing superiority.