Strikeforce Challengers X has come to a close from the Dodge Theater in Phoenix, Arizona and there is a new number one contender in the 135-pound female division.
Her name is Miesha Tate.
But first things first. In the headliner, Joe Riggs and knockout artist Louis Taylor locked up in a 182 pound catchweight bout, and the veteran Riggs surprisingly had a hard time settling in against the up-and-coming prospect.
Both men were tentative to exchange early on, but Taylor was successful in other areas, using timely takedowns to clearly win the second round and possibly even the first. However, Riggs turned up the pressure in the third frame and stunned "Handgunz" with a perfectly placed counter left hook.
That was the beginning of the end for Taylor as he never fully recovered from the punch. "Diesel" took him right to the mat where he was able to secure a crucifix position and pound him into submission.
It was a slow start for the UFC veteran, but Riggs did what he needed to do to get the victory. Afterward he was asked about who he'd like to face next, and he wasted no time calling out champion Nick Diaz, saying, "I already beat his ass once and I'll do it again."
Now, on to Tate and how she made her way through the four-women, single elimination, number one contender eliminator tournament for the women's welterweight division.
She kicked off the Showtime telecast by grinding out a two-round unanimous decision win over Finnish striker Maiju Kujala in the first semifinal bout. She used her trademark takedowns to secure the victory over "Maki," who proved to be a very game opponent.
Miesha appeared to expend a lot of energy in the fight because Kujala's takedown defense was pretty solid and they spent a lot of time in the clinch. It certainly wasn't a pretty win, but she earned her spot in the final nonetheless.
Her opponent in that final was decided when Japanese judo specialist and grappling wizard Hitomi Akano overcame a slow start and an aggressive Carina Damm to score a submission win midway through the second round of the other semifinal fight.
The "Girlfight Monster" proved once again that she can absorb punishment and still remain competitive in a fight. Akano wasn't mistaking Damm for "Cyborg" Santos or anything, but the Brazilian was definitely in control of the fight early on after landing several punches and kicks, including at least one brutal spinning backfist.
Akano's ground skills were super impressive, though, and in the end she handed Damm, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, the third submission loss of her career.
In the final, neither fighter looked to really having any sort of hangover effects from their first fights. Both women actually fought with good energy for the entire three rounds.
Tate basically just did more of what she does best to bring home this decision, too, which means takedowns and ground control. She spent the majority of the second and third rounds latched onto Akano's back on the ground. She was unable to secure the choke, but nobody has ever submitted Akano in an MMA fight, so there's no shame there.
Akano stayed tough and tried to pick her spots for reversals and submission attempts, but Miesha's wrestling and ground control was too good. With the win Tate earned a well deserved spot in a future title fight against the winner between Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen.
In non-tournament action, Ryan Couture, son of UFC hall of famer Randy Couture, made his professional mixed martial arts debut a successful one when he strapped a slick triangle choke on fellow up and comer Lucas Stark just over a minute into the first round.
Ryan has a long way to go to live up to his father's household name, but he's certainly off to a good start. Don't be surprised to see Strikeforce place him on more Challenger cards in the very near future.
That's a wrap from the Dodge Theater in Phoenix. If you missed any of the live action you can get up to speed with out blow-by-blow coverage here.
Next up for Strikeforce is a trip to the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on August 21 for another Showtime televised event. Two of the promotion's world titles will be on the line as light heavyweight champion King Mo Lawal defends his gold against top Brazilian contender Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante in the featured main event while Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza square off for the vacant middleweight strap in the co-headliner.
A lightweight battle between KJ Noons and Jorge Gurgel is also slated for the main card, as well as a heavyweight affair between Bobby Lashley and Chad Griggs.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more on Strikeforce: "Houston."