(“Don’t look yet, but tell me if she’s looking at me.”)
It looks like Muhammed Lawal’s positive steroid test may have netted him a much bigger punishment than the fine and one-year timeout levied on him by the Nevada State Athletic Commission; he may also have missed out on a chance at redemption against the only fighter to beat him as well as a chance to regain the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.
If Strikeforce gave out performance bonuses like their big brothers at the UFC, the “Barnett vs. Kharitonov“ prelim match between Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos and rising Canadian star Jordan Mein would be a front-runner for Fight of the Night. After two entertaining rounds of stand-up, Mein ended the match in the third frame with the nastiest display of standing elbows in MMA history. Seriously, that’s not an exaggeration. Skip to about the 1:45 mark and tell me I’m wrong — this might even give Anderson Silva vs. Tony Fryklund a run for its money. To see the first two rounds of the fight (and everything else from the prelims), swing by IronForgesIron.
Mein’s victory upped his career record to 23-7, and lengthened a win streak that includes victories over Joe Riggs, Josh Burkman, and Marius Zaromskis. He’s been fighting professionally since 2006, and he’s 21 years old. You do the math on that one.
After the jump: Another highly satisfying knockout from the Strikeforce prelims, this one involving former light-heavyweight champ Rafael Cavalcante and Olympic freestyle wrestling silver medalist (and Strikeforce first-timer) Yoel Romero. We set up the video to skip past the first ten minutes of Romero avoiding the fight and taunting Feijao at every opportunity; trust us, we’re doing you a favor. When Cavalcante finally catches up with his dick-headed opponent, it is so, so good.
Add the Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight Championship to the list of MMA’s Great Curses. When Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante fell victim to Dan Henderson‘s mythical “H-Bomb” right hand last night in Columbus, he became the fourth-consecutive Strikeforce LHW champ to lose the belt without making a single successful defense. (Quick refresher: Babalu Sobral lost it to Gegard Mousasi, who lost it to King Mo, who lost it to Feijao, who lost it Hendo.)
Time will tell if Dan Henderson suffers the same fate. In the meantime, the decorated vet’s arrival as champion helps bolster the 205′ers as a marquee division in Strikeforce. Besides Dan and all the former champions previously mentioned, SF’s light-heavyweight roster now includes guys like Roger Gracie, Mike Kyle, Rhadi Ferguson — tell Fedor Emelianenko to drop 20 pounds, and you’ve got the makings of another great World Grand Prix, especially if their heavyweight tournament continues to run into delays.
(Knocking out Wanderlei Silva at PRIDE 33 was “definitely a much bigger accomplishment than anything else I’ve done.” / Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
With 14 years of battles under his belt, Dan Henderson has bridged the gap between the old-school and the new-school. He started competing in 1997 — long before “Zuffa” and “the Unified Rules” entered the MMA lexicon — and his first four appearances were in single-night tournaments, where he was often pitted against seasoned fighters with years of experience. (Luckily, Henderson had his Olympic-caliber wrestling background to fall back on, and went 9-0 in those tournaments.)
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Henderson evolved with the sport, and has managed to remain one of the world’s top fighters. Coming off a first-round knockout of Renato Sobral in December, Henderson returns to the cage this Saturday in the main event of Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson, where he’ll be challenging Rafael Cavalcante for the promotion’s light-heavyweight belt. We caught up with Dan to get some war stories about his long career and his thoughts on what lies ahead…
Becoming ‘Hendo’: The Brazil Open ’97 (6/15/97) def. Crezio de Souza via TKO, 5:25 def. Eric Smith via technical submission (guillotine choke), 0:30
Strikeforce held a conference call on Tuesday ahead of its next major event December 4 in St. Louis. Besides CEO Scott Coker, also on the call were the card’s two main event fighters, former Pride welterweight and middleweight champion Dan Henderson and former Strikeforce light heavyweight title holder Renato "Babalu" Sobral.
Coker has intimated that the winner of the bout will likely be next in line for a shot at current Strikeforce 205-pound champ Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante, so the implications are much bigger than just a rematch that fans want to see.
The pair first squared off in 1999 under the Rings banner where Henderson took the split decision. Although Sobral says he isn’t approaching the fight as being his shot at avenging the debatable decision, but it’s clear that he still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the loss.
It’s no surprise then that Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante is picking his Team Nogueira training partner, UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva to beat former UFC light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort when the pair meet February 5 at UFC 126 in Las Vegas.
According to Feijao, who is ignoring the principle rule of training: what happens in the gym stays in the gym, says that he has never seen Belfort get an upper hand over Silva in rolling or sparring while the two trained together briefly at Black House.
“I’ve had the opportunity of training with both [Anderson and Vitor] and to see them training with each other," he told Tatame. I’ve never seen Vitor beating Anderson."
Coker’s revelation seems a bit questionable considering Sobral, who defeated Robbie Lawler at a 195-pound catchweight in his last bout hasn’t fought at 205 for the promotion since losing his title to Gegard Mousasi in 2009 and Henderson, who lost to Jake Shields in a title bout in his Strikeforce debut hasn’t fought under the SF banner at that weight at all.
Regardless of whether or not he beats Henderson or earns a shot at his old belt, Babalu says he may not stick around at light heavyweight for long, revealing that he wants to go wherever there are challenging fights.
"I’m looking for challenges now. Belts don’t mean as much to me any more. I want good match-ups. That’s what keeps me motivated to fight. I’d like to fight maybe at heavyweight. It depends. It all depends on the opponents. If you give me good match-ups, I’ll fight at any weight," Babalu tells CagePotato.com. "I can go up and I can go down. If it’s a good bout for me and I say I want to fight that guy, I’ll move to the weight they’re at. I don’t have any preference. It’s not about weight classes; it’s about fighters."
(Focused and ready for battle, King Mo stares into his opponent’s eyes, desperately trying to remember who the hell this dude is. Photo courtesy of allelbows.com)
Two title fights in the light-heavyweight and middleweight divisions, a lightweight slugfest between KJ Noons and Jorge Gurgel, and Bobby Lashley‘s latest bit of record-padding, all brought to you by the world-famous City of Syrup. Let’s be real — if you’re not watching Strikeforce tonight, you’re a damn fool. Or, you don’t have Showtime. Or, you have better things to do. Speaking of which, your usual live-bloggers are occupied tonight, so respected CagePotato contributor Matt Kaplan will be filling in. Round-by-round updates can be found after the jump, beginning at 10 p.m. ET. Refresh the page for all the latest, and let your voices be heard in the comments section.
("Actually, Bobby is the one who’s adopted. Long story." Photo courtesy of allelbows.)
Clear your schedules, Potato Nation. CagePotato.com will be liveblogging tomorrow night’s Showtime broadcast of Strikeforce: Houston starting at 10 p.m. ET, so be sure to stop by. The fighters just stepped on the scales at the Toyota Center, and 86% of them were able to successfully hit their marks. Pretty impressive, guys! The numbers are below:
Preliminary Card Daniel Cormier (249) vs. Jason Riley (256.5) Andre Galvao (170.75) vs. Jorge Patino ()** Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhães (144.5) vs. Rocky Long (146.25) Kier Gooch (155.5) vs. Adam Schindler (155.5) Jose Santibanez (154.25) vs. Reynaldo Trujillo (155.25) Humberto DeLeon (127.25) vs. Chad Robichaux (131)*** Chad Cook (205.25) vs. Arteneus Young (204)
* Gurgel allowed Noons the extra quarter-pound; Noons will not have to shed the additional weight. ** Wasn’t present at the weigh-ins; will weigh-in later this evening. *** Was given an extra hour to lose one pound for the 130-pound catchweight bout.