A note before we get started: The CBS broadcast of tonight’s Strikeforce event may not be live in all areas, so please check your local listings before you run headlong into spoilerville. Now then, we’ve got a short but sweet lineup of fights in store for us, with three titles on the line: Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez defends his belt against invading DREAM champ Shinya Aoki, Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal attempts to steal the crown from reigning light-heavyweight ruler Gegard Mousasi, and middleweight champ Jake Shields faces off against PRIDE/UFC legend Dan Henderson in the biggest fight of his career. Live Strikeforce: Nashville results await you after the jump, beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Refresh the page every few minutes for round-by-round updates and the usual jokes about Frank Shamrock‘s braces and Stephen Quadros’s clown-makeup.
While you’re waiting, here’s the intro video for the broadcast, courtesy of shosports.
The crowd at the Bridgestone Arena is about as white as you’d expect. Gus Johnson runs down the competitors on this card, including "Shinya Oioki," and "Gayhard Mousasi." No Quadros tonight, apparently, but Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo are in the building. And in the backround, stalking around the cage? Our man Big John McCarthy. As Johnson says, it’s "a pay-per-view-type card, on free TV." The umbrella hoochies and pyrotechnics mean only one thing…
Gegard Mousasi vs. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal
A demo sequence from the EA MMA video game takes us through the Keys to Victory. (Mo = ground and pound. Mousasi = leg kicks?) Mo’s mouthpiece says "Thirsty." Mousasi’s mouthpiece probably says something insightful and poetic, but he won’t show us. The crowd chants "King! Mo!"
Round 1: Mousasi fires a high kick. Mo dashes in with a hard 1-2. Mo swings more punches. Mousasi better hope those don’t land flush. Mo grabs a single leg and takes Mousasi down after some effort. Mousasi tries to set up a triangle, but Mo shakes out. Mo throws down some punches. Mo gets up and Mousasi tries an upkick before Mo dives on again in side control. Mo’s up again and more upkicks from Mousasi. Mo jacks Mousasi with a left. GnP from Mo. Again Mo stands, and Mousasi lands an upkick before Mo jumps on once again, abusing Mousasi against the cage. Big punches from Mo. Desperately, Mousasi throws some punches from his back. Mousasi grabs onto Mo and works to his feet. They’re slugging. Mousasi stuffs a takedown and slugs Mo in the head. He lands a sharp knee from a clinch before Mo takes him down again. Mousasi gets up, lands a short hook and eats one from Mo as the round ends. 10-9, Lawal.
Round 2: Mo works for the double leg and gets it. He’s on Mousasi’s back against the fence, and throws a knee into the champ’s body. Mousasi rolls to guard and starts landing punches from his back. More punches, and Mo returns a couple of his own. Mousasi works his upkicks as Mo stands. Mo is back on top and Mousasi once again starts boxing off his back. He kicks Mo off and stands. They clinch. Mousasi tries to punch out, but Mo gets him down again and takes a rest in Mousasi’s guard. Mousasi lands an upkick when Mo resets and they trade punches on the ground. Mousasi kicks Mo off. they clinch. Mo bulls Mousasi down and starts eating leather again. Mousasi briefly tries to set up an armbar. Mousasi escapes and ppunces on Mousasi with punches against the cage before taking Mo’s back and trying for a choke as the round ends. I say the champ evens out the score, 10-9.
Round 3: Body kick Mousasi, then a leg kick. Mo tries to clinch. Mo lands a pair of punches. Mousasi attacks with punches and they clinch against the fence. Mo throws some wild punches. He’s gassing, but he’s not done yet. He takes Mousasi down once again. He isn’t doing much with the position. Mo slugs to Mousasi’s body. Mousasi takes a hard right from the top. More shots, and Mousasi can’t do much more than cover up and wait out the round. Mo landing punches where he can. Mousasi kicks Mo off. Easy 10-9 for King Mo.
Round 4: Mousasi throws a slow leg kick. He’s definitely lost his pep. Mo lands a couple of punches before taking Mousasi down against the fence once again. Mousasi lands a big upkick when Mo gives him some space, but Mo settles back on top. Yet again, Mousasi is stuck against the cage. Big John stands ‘em. Mo shoots for a single and pulls Mousasi down. Mo in side control, working some knees to the body. Punches from Mo. Mousasi doing what he can from his back, but it’s not enough. The round ends. 10-9 Mo. Mousasi needs to finish the fight in the last round or he’s toast.
Round 5: Mousasi jabs. Mo with a strong takedown and Mousasi has no answer. Mousasi with another upkick when Mo gets to his feet. Mo back on top, grinding with punches. Mousasi lands an upkick when Mo’s knees were down and the fight is paused. Mo says he’s okay, but crouches down to suck air for a moment. A point is deducted from Mousasi, not that it will make a difference. Big John resets the fight, with King Mo in Mousasi’s guard. Mousasi firing punches from his back. Mousasi still throwing upkicks whenever Mo pops up, but he can’t get any space to do anything effective. He gets up and tries to fire punches, but Mo clinches and bulls Mousasi into the cage. Mousasi escapes…briefly. Mo scores another takedown. They trade punches on the mat. Big John stands ‘em and they box. Mo lands two jabs before completing one final takedown. Shocking. 10-8 round for the challenger, who will take this in a rout.
Lawal def. Mousasi via unanimous decision (49-45 x 3). King Mo gets his crown. A lot of people in the crowd are booing for some reason. Look, it wasn’t the most exciting fight, but how else was Mo supposed to win it? Gotta give the dude props. The new light-heavyweight champion says "Y’all go ahead and boo me, but I’mma keep on winning. So thank you to my haters."
Gilbert Melendez vs. Shinya Aoki
As is his custom, Aoki comes out to "Baka Survivor." Gilbert starts walking out before Aoki has even entered the cage. We’re playing catchup already, eh guys? Nate Diaz hangs around behind El Nino, mean-mugging nobody in particular. Mario Yamasaki delivers the fight instructions in the universal language, Broken English.
Round 1: Melendez lands a body punch. Melendez stalking from the outside. Another straight right to the body. Melendez catches a kick and Aoki falls to the mat but gets back up. Melendez seems to catch an accidental eye-poke, and takes a break for a minute. He wipes his eye off on Yamasaki’s shirt. Aoki dives for a leg when the action resumes and transitions to guard. Melendez quickly gets out of dodge and they’re back on their feet. Melendez with another body punch. Aoki shoots again and is stuffed. Aoki chills on his back. Melendez dives in with a punch. Melendez with two hard punches from the top. Aoki escapes to his feet. Aoki with a sharp body kick. Melendez tags the jab before taking another body kick. Melendez scores with a knee to the body before the bell rings. 10-9 Melendez.
Round 2: Melendez snaps an uppercut as Aoki shoots forward. Aoki with a botches guard pull. He shoots in and grabs one of Melendez’s arms. Melendez on top, throwing punches. Body punch from Melendez. Yamasaki stands ‘em. Aoki lands a left straight. Melendez swarms with punches after backing Aoki against the cage. Aoki complains about shots to the back of the head. A good right from Melendez. Aoki with a knee to the body. Aoki shoots and pulls guard, and Melendez bashes with hammerfists. Melendez with a right hand. The ref stands it up. Aoki with another takedown attempt; Melendez stuffs and punches angrily. There’s the bell. 10-9 Melendez.
Round 3: Aoki shoots, more aggressively this time, but Melendez defends and gets on top. Melendez scores with punches from the top. Yamasaki tries to stand them up and Melendez dives on with one more hard punch. Kind of an unethical move, though not illegal. Yamasaki steps in between them and makes them stand. Aoki drops to his back and buttscoots forward, to the great displeasure of the crowd. Yamasaki orders him up, but he buttflops again and Gilbert gets back on top. Brutal right hands from Melendez, as Aoki grips onto his left. The ref stands ‘em. Melendez attacks with punches, but eats a knee. That’s the bell. Melendez pitching a shutout as we go into the championship rounds.
Round 4: Aoki lazily shoots and is pushed away. Melendez with a right. Aoki misses a knee, but does his shoot/guard-pull thing again. Melendez goes back to slugging with his right before jumping back up. Aoki goes into his buttscoot thing but Yamasaki won’t allow it. Melendez scoring with single punches. Aoki shoots and Melendez drives a knee into his chest. Aoki gets off the mat, mentally pwned. Melendez fires some punches. He stuffs another takedown. Aoki shoots and gets lit up with punches. He buttscoots forward and just as Yamasaki orders him up Gilbert blasts Aoki in the face *again*. Yamasaki is pissed and warns both of them for fucking around. Melendez bashes Aoki to the mat. He stands and kicks Aoki a couple times in the leg as the round ends. 10-9 to the champ.
Round 5. Melendez with an uppercut. Aoki shoots and falls backward, saying he was poked in the eye. Sorry buddy, that shit won’t play in the States. Aoki drops under a punch and pulls guard. He tries to play with rubber guard against the cage, but Melendez isn’t giving him anything to work with. Melendez with more right hands. He lets Aoki up. Nice straight right from Melendez. Aoki shoots, Melendez stuffs and lets him up. Aoki grabs Melendez and pulls guard. Melendez gets up after being brushed with an illegal upkick. Aoki shoots and is stuffed, shoots and is stuffed. The ref orders him up. Melendez storms forward with punches and puts Aoki on his ass as the round ends. Another monotonous rout, but this time for the champion.
Melendez def. Aoki via unanimous decision (50-45 x 3). Aoki was 0-for-18 on takedown attempts. Yeesh, buddy. Melendez says he’s a top-3 lightweight after tonight. So far, this is a wild night for MMA rankings.
We’re gonna see highlights from the Miller/Stout fight. This show’s gonna go waaaaaay long.
Jason Miller takes Tim Stout down with ease and slugs him from the top until the ref steps in. Mayhem wins via TKO, round 1. Main event time…
Dan Henderson vs. Jake Shields
Let’s hope this is a short fight, or at least a competitive one. Otherwise, "Nashville" has to be a disappointment for Coker & Co. Frank Shamrock says Henderson is going to destroy Shields, and Shields has a boring style. You know, normal unbiased commentator stuff.
Round 1: Leg kick Shields. Henderson already tags Shields with a right and the champ goes down! Henderson dives on with more punches, trying to finish. Jake shakes the cobwebs and tries for a leglock. Hendo stands, trying to shake out. And he escapes. Henderson charges forward with more punches, and Shields falls to his back. Henderson knocks Shields down with an uppercut. Shields back up. Henderson blitzing with punches. Henderson throws a right and clinches with Jake against the fence. Big John breaks them. Jake lands a few light punches. Body kick Shields. Shields gets a single-leg takedown, but Dan quickly gets up. They clinch against the fence. Shields punching Hendo’s body. Henderson elbows out at the bell. It was moving dangerously close to a 10-8, but I’ll give it to Dan 10-9.
Round 2: Jake shoots and is rebuffed. He tries again and takes Hendo to the mat. Henderson transitions to Jake’s back and almost wraps up a rear-naked. Shields escapes and gets in Hendo’s guard, then passes to mount. Jake postures and throws down some punches. More abuse from Shields. Henderson stuck underneath the champ. Henderson tries to return some punches from his back, but he’s definitely getting the worst of it. Hard punches from the top from Shields and Hendo is in trouble. Hendo controls Shields’s body momentarily, but Shields gets back to his ground-and-pound. There’s the bell. Shields evens the score in dramatic fashion.
Round 3: Jake jabbing. Henderson looks a little tired. Body kick Shields. Shields shoots in, and Henderson defends and stands up. Jake with another single-leg and works his way into Henderson’s guard. Shields working hard to pass. He’s in side-control. Henderson puts a glove over Jake’s mouth, and the champ doesn’t like it. Shields puts his knee on Henderson’s belly. He’s in half-guard, steadily dropping short punches. Shields sets up a guillotine but loses it. He gets to mount and retuns to GnP. Henderson tries to buck him off, but Shields retains the position. Shields rolls into an armbar attempt but runs out of time. 10-9 Shields.
Round 4: Hendo fires a big right, showing that he’s not beaten yet. Shields completes a slick single leg, but Henderson scrambles out. So Shields just tries it again, putting Henderson against the cage. They wind up in a very odd north-south crucifix position with Jake’s back on Dan’s stomach and his arm trapped between Dan’s legs. Shields works out of it and eventually gets back into mount. But he gives it up to work on an armlock, which doesn’t pan out. Shields in side-control, trying the armlock again. He loses it. Back to mount. Jake staying busy with short punches as Dan covers up. Henderson tries to roll out but Shields is tenacious on top. Hendo is stuck, and basically defenseless. More punches from the top as the round ends. One more and Shields keeps his belt.
Round 5: Henderson tries to land some desperation power punches, but Shields avoids them and easily gets another takedown. Okay, now I do want to see Shields vs. GSP. Shields once again moves to mount. The crowd boos the third lopsided title fight in a row. Whaddya gonna do. Ground and pound from Jake. Shields looks for a kimura before getting back to the good ol’ mount-and-murder. Shields goes for the arm-triangle choke now but can’t secure it. Shields almost loses position looking for a rear-naked choke, but gets back on top. Shields grabs a kneebar in a scramble to ride out the fight. The decision will surprise no one.
"I am a Jake Shields fan, and I’m saying it right now," says the newly converted Frank Shamrock. This night is full of suprises.
Shields def. Henderson via unanimous decision. (49-46, 49-45, 48-45)
The crowd boos. Fine, it was a boring night, but it was one with tremendous implications.
Holy shit, Mayhem jumps into Jake Shields’s post-fight interview asking for a rematch and the Scrap Pack jumps him. It’s chaos in the cage. "Gentlemen, we’re on national television," Johnson pleads.
The replay shows that Mayhem got a little too up in Jake’s face, and Gilbert Melendez made the first shove in retaliation. Ranallo calls Jason Miller‘s unannounced pop-in "disgusting." Between the post-event brawl, lopsided fights, lack of stoppages, and the overlong broadcast, Strikeforce and CBS have to be pulling their hair out. But on an individual level, Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, and King Mo came out of this one looking like heroes. Well, Mo’s still a heel, but he’s officially hit it big. Time for me to sign off…we’ll talk soon.