The eighth edition of the Strikeforce Challenger Series has come to a close from the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
While these shows are traditionally used to promote up and comers and lesser known talent, that didn't stop well traveled and accomplished mixed martial arts veteran Matt "The Law" Lindland from jumping at the opportunity to get a fight in his own backyard.
The Portland native headlined the event opposite young Brazilian jiu jitsu ace "King" Kevin Casey, and there was no way "The Law" was going to disappoint his hometown faithful on this night. Coming in on the heels of back to back losses for the first time in his career, the former Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling silver medalist needed a win badly.
Lindland schooled and punished his inexperienced counterpart with his trademark wrestling attack. He controlled the majority of the fight from the top position on the ground, and he picked the Rickson Gracie trained fighter apart with punches and elbows from there, much to the delight of the Oregonians in attendance.
Casey flashed some solid jiu jitsu in the first round, taking Lindland's back and maintaining that position for most of the round. However, once Lindland reversed the hold, the fight went in a completely different direction. From then on, it was basically a one-sided fight.
Lindland pounded away at the youngster until the referee finally put an end to the beating midway through the third round.
In the co-main event of the night, highly regarded welterweight prospect Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley eked out a split decision by the skin of his teeth over hometown favorite Nathan Coy.
Needless to say, the Portland fans weren't too happy with the outcome.
Coy set a high pace at the start of the fight and carried it throughout the full fifteen minutes. He executed his gameplan well. He established the leg kick early and worked his takedowns off of that. I thought he had done enough to win the fight, too.
Woodley was clearly bothered by the kicks, and the stand-out collegiate wrestler looked frustrated and confused in the cage for the first time in his young career. He continued to battle and score points of his own, though.
"T-Wood" was active and successful on the ground. He was able to take Coy's back more than once in the first and second round, and very nearly finished the fight with submissions a few times as well. That positioning and aggression on the ground, along with a few timely takedowns and well placed counter strikes are likely what stood out to the judges who scored him the first two rounds.
This was a step up in competition for him, and he struggled for the first time in his career. It's going to be interesting to see how this fight affects "T-Wood" going forward.
In a fight that eerily resembled the first encounter between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith two years ago, hard hitting welterweights Roger Bowling and Bobby Voelker put on a fantastic show for two and a half rounds before the fight was prematurely called midway through the third due to an incidental eye poke from Voelker.
Bowling was an animal in this fight, refusing to let up from his frantic pace of punch combinations and takedowns. He punished Voelker early and often, and the fight appeared to be on the verge of being stopped several times in the first two rounds.
But Voelker stood tough throughout and showed a ridiculously tough chin. He took a massive beating in this fight but he never stopped moving forward and throwing punches of his own. Bowling was relentless, too. He didn't let up off of Voelker for one minute, but the American jiu jitsu fighter was still right there fighting back the entire time.
The end wasn't fulfilling, but this was still a great fight. I don't know what was more impressive, Voelker's chin, or Bowling's ability to keep up that insane pace for two and a half rounds.
Both were equally sickening.
Hopefully we'll get a rematch, even though Bowling clearly won the fight.
In a entertaining middleweight contest, Belgium fighter Tarec "Sponge" Saffiedine stopped American Kickboxing Academy trainee Nate Moore with a fight ending overhand right midway through the second round.
"Sponge" out-worked Moore for the first five minutes of the fight and likely was ahead on the cards after the first round. That didn't matter, though. Saffiedine made him pay with several leg kicks and punches early in the second round before ending the fight with a brutal right hand punch.
The Team Quest trainee moved to 2-0 under the Strikeforce banner.
And finally, in the fight that kicked off the Showtime portion of the card, local favorite Pat "Bam Bam" Healy out-pointed Bryan Travers on the scorecards for a unanimous decision victory.
"Bam Bam" manhandled Travers in the clinch and battered the Strikeforce newcomer with numerous knees and punches to the body. Travers stayed competitive throughout the three round battle, but Healy's work inside the clinch was the difference when the scores came in.
That's a wrap from Portland.
Next up for Strikeforce is a trip south to the "City of Angles" for Strikeforce: "Los Angeles" on June 16 from the Nokia Theatre.
Former Elite XC middleweight title holder "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler will headline the Showtime televised event opposite former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato "Babalu" Sobral in a 195 pound catchweight bout. Former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley will also be in action, as will Marius Zaromskis, Shane Del Rosario, Lolohea Mahe, Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos and others.
Keep it locked to MMAmania.com for more on that developing fight card and all your Strikeforce news and notes. For Strikeforce Challengers: "Lindland vs. Casey" live results and play-by-play click here.