Last night’s Strikeforce card was a memorable one — even though there were a couple aspects of the show that we’d love to forget. Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look back at Tate vs. Rousey’s thrilling highlights and awful lowlights…
- Ronda Rousey‘s title-winning performance against Miesha Tate. We finally learned what Rousey’s “Plan B” is when she’s unable to armbar you within the first minute — unsurprisingly, it’s another armbar. Rousey kept her head when Miesha stormed out at her in the beginning of the fight, calmly extracted herself from bad positions on the ground, and didn’t get discouraged when her first nasty armbar attempt failed to break Miesha’s elbow. Instead, she relied on the judo expertise that has carried her to a title shot in less than a year of professional MMA competition, and got the inevitable snap/tap at 4:27 of round 1. During her post-fight interview, Rousey proved that her heat-seeking personality doesn’t turn off just because the match is over. (Yes, she holds grudges, and yes, she still thinks Tate sucks.) A meeting with former champ Sarah Kaufman is next, but I can’t be the only one looking ahead to a possible 135-pound superfight against Cris Cyborg.
- Ronaldo Souza‘s striking. In the past, Jacare’s occasional tendency to keep fights standing has struck me as a frustrating betrayal of his bread-and-butter. (See also: Demian Maia.) But against Bristol Marunde, Souza’s striking looked just as dangerous as his grappling; his ferocious overhand rights and unconventional kicks brought to mind other Brazilian bangers like Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante and Edson Barboza. Jacare is still evolving as a fighter, and Luke Rockhold should watch his back.
- The Sarah Kaufman vs. Alexis Davis fight on the prelims. If you were able to catch it on Showtime Extreme, consider yourself lucky. Kaufman/Davis was the kind of three-round brawl that you don’t often see in women’s MMA, and it went a long way in securing Kaufman as the rightful next-in-line for a bantamweight title shot. Kaufman will surely be a big underdog against Rousey, but her sprawl-and-brawl style is the perfect skillset for a fight against the champ.
- The good-natured banter between Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier, who will bring the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix to a close (finally!) on May 19th. You don’t always need hate to sell a fight. Both of these guys are incredibly talented, and I can’t wait until they throw down.
- Scott Smith‘s physique. Judging by his soft midsection, Smith didn’t take preparations for his return to middleweight seriously enough, and it showed in his performance, where he was manhandled and out-grappled by relative newcomer Lumumba Sayers. The fight was over before Smith had a chance to make one of his miraculous comebacks. With four losses in a row, Smith’s time on the big stage might be over.
- The referee in Tate vs. Rousey not stopping the fight until about eight seconds after Tate’s arm had grown a new elbow. Tate showed her warrior heart by not tapping until the pain was overwhelming; the ref showed his ignorance by not stopping the fight until that moment.
- Josh Thomson‘s safety-first performance against KJ Noons, and his graceless analysis of it: “It was shit…My conditioning was shit, so my fight was shit.” Cool story, bro. Thomson made a big show of his anti-Obama t-shirt after the fight, but at least you have to give him credit for not being a creep about his political opinions, unlike some people we know.
- Kazuo Misaki’s face after his decision win over Paul Daley. After suffering a Marvin Eastman-caliber head gash in the third round, he also ended up with a Ryan McGillivray-style broken nose.
- The Nazi pedophile on the undercard. In an attempt to add more local flavor to the prelims, Strikeforce booked Ohio native Brandon Saling to fight Roger Bowling. Not-so-fun fact: Saling previously did time in prison on a “gross sexual imposition” charge for raping a 12-year-old girl. And he didn’t generate any sympathy last night when he stepped into the cage rocking white supremacist tattoos, including an ’88′ on his shoulder which is Neo Nazi code for “Heil Hitler.” To make a long story short, he’s a shit-stain on the underwear of humanity, and Strikeforce screwed up royally by not doing a basic background check before booking him on their televised prelim broadcast. This is not who we need representing us, guys.