The beginning of a long weekend of MMA action was kicked off last night (June 24, 2011) when Strikeforce Challengers 16 went down at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.
And it was the lightweights who stole the show after a relatively slow start to the evening.
Challengers 16 was headlined by 155-pound prospects Caros Fodor and James Terry, two young talents looking to become a San Jose mainstays. Analysts believed that Fodor's edge on the ground over Terry would be the equalizer, but a relentless pace, and quick strikes saw Fodor rack up points by out-striking Terry on the feet.
Terry found himself looking to clinch often to avoid eating the volume of punches he was taking, but when he wasn't attempting to secure a takedown, he was eating jarring knees to the midsection. Completed take downs for Terry were few and far between, and the first two rounds were all Fodor, who pushed forward non-stop through the majority of the bout.
The third round saw Terry begin landing his strikes at what appeared to be a significantly higher percentage, and secure take downs that allowed him to score points of his own. Even though Terry fought a better fight in the third round, two of the three judges felt he lost all three frames, and Caros Fodor was awarded the unanimous decision victory.
We'll touch on the rest of the card after the jump!
These two lightweights were considered to be very similar on paper, and this proved to be the case as the fight began. Neither man could ever truly get the upper hand in the clinch, or on the ground, leaving the fight to be decided in the striking department.
Couture's striking looked improved compared to his last two outings, but Ricehouse found his range early, and never lost it, landing far more solid shots during the bout.
After two rounds were in the books for Ricehouse, Couture came out in the third looking to be more aggressive, and he performed better than he had in the first ten minutes, but Couture couldn't get the finish he needed to secure a victory.
Tough loss for the young Couture, but with a camp like his, I have no doubt we'll see him back and winning again in no time. For Ricehouse, this was a great victory, most people were sleeping on him here, and he impressed.
Exciting light heavyweight Lorenz Larkin overcame a rough first round against Gian Villante, and rebounded to put on a striking clinic for the rest of the bout. Villante began the fight looking crisp, with good foot work, and violent kicks.He secured a nice take down early on, and Larkin couldn't shake him for the rest of the round, and it was an easy 10-9 for Villante.
Things fell apart for Villante from there though.
Larkin came out for the second round knowing he couldn't allow himself to be put on his back again, and began to open up with a variety of strikes. Quick punches, and powerful kicks hurt Villante early in the second, and that marked the end of Villante's effective offense.
After being beaten throughout the second round, Villante was nothing more than target practice for Larkin during the third. In case being a punching bag for Larkin during the last two rounds wasn't bad enough, Larkin scored a take down to finish the fight.
Larkin has great, unique striking, but he's got to continue to develop or risk becoming a striker who gets abused by strong wrestlers.
Mulhern threatened with leg locks, as well as a slick guard game, but the savvy High was having none of it. Although High wasn't throwing as many punches as fans would care for, he did manage to cut Mulhern open, and do some damage on the feet to set up his take downs.
All judges scored the fight 30-27, but High wasn't pleased with his performance, and came across as apologetic during his post-fight interview.
Budd was aggressive in going for takedowns, and although she ate a few knees and had a mouse forming under her eye, she was consistently getting takedowns through the first two rounds.
In the third, de Randamie performed her best, firing on Budd from top position on two occasions, but it wasn't nearly enough to sway the judges in her favor.
After the final bell sounded, all three judges ruled the bout 29-28 in favor of Julia Budd, who apologized for the dull performance, but felt like she needed to get this win by any means since she had lost to de Randamie in the kickboxing ring.
That's it for us, Maniacs. Thoughts on the show?