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Strikeforce “Melendez vs. Masvidal” Aftermath: The Challenge in Finding Challengers

Yeah, she spent more time on the cage than in it. (Photo: Las Vegas Sun)

Since the late 90′s I’ve seen the same assertion rear its head on MMA email lists, usenet groups, and internet forums from time to time: The best fighter in the world isn’t in the cage or the ring. He’s toiling away in a South American coal mine or defending his land in Sub-Saharan Africa. His legend will never extend beyond the shores of his remote Pacific island and he’ll never be able to prove his abilities to the world. To a certain degree, this must be what life is like for Gilbert Melendez.

Finding out that your company is staying afloat and that your job is secure would normally be terrific news, but despite his admirable towing of the company line, you have to know that “El Niño” was gutted when he realized that Strikeforce wasn’t going anywhere and neither was he. The bright lights, big networks, and top paydays of the UFC will not be his. More importantly, neither is the opportunity to prove himself against the best in the world.

Strikeforce has thus far found Melendez the best competition available, but there’s no question that he’s outgrown his little pond. Bouts against ranked, or even credible, competition will be few and far between from here on out, which is why it’s all the more important that the champ make a statement with each and every punch. Last night he failed to do that. This is not to take away from Masvidal, as he is dangerous, but most consensus rankings place him somewhere in the mid-to-high 20′s. Melendez put together solid combinations and stayed out of trouble round after round, which was more than enough to convincingly win the fight. But right now he’s stranded out on that island. If he wants to earn the kind of attention and respect that he’s after, he’s going to have to light a massive fire and scream a little louder with his performances.

“Cyborg” Santos has a different kind of problem. If I was a female mixed martial artist I’d be investing in a compass and a rubber dingy and setting sail for some place uncharted. Dominatrix Hiroko Yamanaka found herself on the receiving end of a beating last night. Something tells me it was neither as enjoyable nor lucrative as her other gig. Keep in mind that Yamanaka wasn’t suggested to Strikeforce by a local fraternity—this was the #2 female fighter at 145lbs, and she got trounced in sixteen seconds. To paraphrase Dan Henderson: the question isn’t whether the fight was stopped too early, it’s whether it should have even started in the first place. Cyborg is talking about dropping weight in search of better competition. If that happens you can expect a sudden interest in a 125 lb. division to emerge. A match with bantamweight champion Miesha Tate may offer the Brazilian her best challenge. Another option being mentioned is a bout with MMA upstart Ronda Rousey. Rousey’s transition to MMA has nothing short of amazing thus far. Her lack of in-cage experience hasn’t deterred her from beefing with Miesha Tate, and while I think jumping into the deep end of the shark tank with Cyborg would be ill-advised, if “Rowdy” really wants to take the helm of WMMA then she needn’t cut carbs out of her diet just yet.

The evening’s undercard yielded more competitive action and decision wins for K.J. Noons and Gegard Mousasi.

Noons came up short in the stand-up battle in round one. Neither man capitalized on successful takedowns, and as the two traded hands Billy Evangelista got the better of the exchanges. Noons wisely varied his attack with kicks and combinations in rounds two and three. It was enough to take those rounds but not enough to wipe the mocking smirk from Evangelista’s face. Noons faded in round three and nearly fell victim to a choke, but he survived and broke his two-fight skid.

Gegard Mousasi also managed to pick up his first win in three Strikeforce appearances, though “The Dreamcatcher” had been active outside of the organization. This was a big step up in competition for the streaking Ovince St. Preux, who came into the bout on an 8-0 run. Mousasi’s calm aggression and experience allowed him to control the former defensive end and come close to ending things more than once in the first round. OSP (so we’re officially running with that, right?) simply wasn’t ready for the next level, but he put Mousasi in more than one precarious position and shouldn’t be embarrassed by his performance. No, that dishonor falls squarely on the shoulders of referee Steven Davis, who not only threatened to stand fighters up when they had dominant positions but actually did so as they actively unloaded on their opponents. The words “piss poor” come to mind.

Full Results (via MMAWeekly.com):

Main Bouts (on Showtime):
-Gilbert Melendez def. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
-Cris “Cyborg” Santos def. Hiroko Yamanaka by TKO at :16, R1
-Gegard Mousasi def. Ovince St-Preux by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-K.J. Noons def. Billy Evangelista by unanimous decison (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Preliminary Bouts (non-televised):
-Caros Fodor def. Justin Wilcox by KO at 0:13, R1
-Roger Bowling def. Jerron Peoples KO (Strikes) at 0:42, R1
-Devin Cole def. Gabriel Salinas-Jones by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3
-Eddie Mendez def. Fernando Gonzalez by Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29), R3
-Herman Terrado def. Chris Brown by Submission (Armbar) R3

 

- Chris Colemon (@chriscolemon)

 

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Todd M- December 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm
^Just got Diamond tickets,rrgghh, edit button.
Todd M- December 18, 2011 at 8:47 pm
@ TeilaTuli, I agree Mousasi should be at middleweight and with his improved wrestling he could do some damage there. I think it was just a bad matchup for Melendez, he spent the night striking with the reachier and supposed better striker and still won every round IMO, I think Gilbert is top 5 in lighweight possibly top 3 and on the right night he could beat any lightweight in the world. Congratulations Karma, well done mate. @ FBF, are you going to the UFC in Sydney?, I just Diamond tickets, best seats in the house baby, bring on the flyweights!
kentmurr410- December 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm
Anyone who thinks that any organization is better that the UFC is out of touch and in a very small insignificant minority! Or perhaps mentally challenged or working for Strike Force.
kentmurr410- December 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm
Cyborg was the best fight on Strikforce last night. Gilbert was ok but not impressive several UFC fighters would crush him although I am not real impressed with Frankie Edgar for 155ers they are both very conservative champions. Gilbert may be a tough match up for Frankie. But most of these morons touting SF as better than the UFC must not be watching. Very few strikeforce guys have proven worthy of the UFC only Nick Diaz,Dan Henderson,and Jake Shields have done well and Nick may be the only one to continue in success.
fatbellyfrank- December 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm
Jeff Watts defeated his opponent by triangle choke. More news to come later.
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WAR KARMA
TeilaTuliTooth- December 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm
who thinks here that She-borg would whip George Roop's ass. That bitch is one tough hombre.
TeilaTuliTooth- December 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm
I was very impressed by Mousassi's wrestling. After the pitiful display against King MO that dude has really worked HARD on his soft point.
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He should move down to middleweight though, he seemed a lot smaller than O-not-GSP.
SonOfSerbia- December 18, 2011 at 12:58 pm
If Melendez isn't coming to the UFC then the UFC should come to him and offer him up some decent fights with guys who are past their prime or moneyweight fighters. (Penn, Diego Sanchez, KenFlo, Sherk) As far as Cyborg goes, I would love to see her pound Rhonda Rousey or Meisha Tate..preferably at the same time
XENOPHON- December 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm
Mauro Ranallo makes SF events entirely different to view. Most don't like him, I can care less about the announcers - what is striking different is the amount of HYPE that the UFC spews leading up to, and during each round.
XENOPHON- December 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm
@JaredB
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Maybe the UFC should send some people to SF. I had a different view than you, I think Melendez fought like a champ wanting to keep his belt. You don't see much of that in the UFC anymore.
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What we see are dozens of ex-title holders jockeying around for the easiest path for a shot at the title again. And of those, most don't even talk about their now long gone belt anymore.
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The real feeling we all get from the tiered fighters in the UFC is that they are afraid of losing, losing the slightly bigger paydays. Although gutted, SF is a tinge less circus-esque.
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I think Masvidal might have be the better fighter, but - misunderstood how he failed at keeping any sustained pressure on Melendez. Maybe his thought he was ahead, and I hope when he watches the replay - he realizes its time to stop the fast food, late night bar raids for pussy, and take his title shots serious like a grown man.
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I have to hand it to Melendez, he owned the pace for 5 straight rounds.
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ASIDE from this BS, where the fuck are the Jeff Watts fight results, video, pictures, and article????? Rex and his Team at Cage Potato earns a "D-"
CrushCo- December 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm
@Spitting into the wind: "Fucking bronco"?!?!
Spitting into the wind- December 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Speaking of piss poor, Mauro Ranallo was simply abysmal during the main event. He seems to be getting worse at his job if that is possible when your as annoying a cunt as he is. He has done this shit for years and he still comes across as someone who doesnt understand the sport.
BryanF- December 18, 2011 at 11:17 am
i really don't see the need for Cyborg to fighting other women. Think about the attention Strikeforce would get for putting up an inter-gender fight. Put her in there against some sub-talented 145 pounders and watch a star get made.
Omelette Platter- December 18, 2011 at 11:00 am
i think cyborg vs melendez would be competitive.

if el nino was truly fighting up to his potential last night then i really have no desire to see him fight higher levels of competition. if he wants us to demand seeing him in bigger shows then he needs to fight like his job depends on it.
Prometheus- December 18, 2011 at 10:09 am
Cyborg would murder Rousey.
JaredB- December 18, 2011 at 9:42 am
Dull Strikeforce show. Melendez is a regional champion. He wasn't very aggressive or effective against an opponent who wasn't using his reach and was acting overmatched and afraid, most of his punches were hitting Masvidal's arms. Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson, Gray Maynard, etc... have far more complete skill sets than him. I guess bring him in and watch him lose an unearned title shot just Shields did if everybody is clamoring for it but I'd rather see Edgar fight deserving opponents.
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