Two of the top middleweights in Strikeforce dueled last night (July 30, 2011) on the main card of Strikedorce: Fedor vs. Henderson as former title challengers Tim Kennedy and Robbie Lawler vied for an opportunity to avenge their last losses to current Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo Souza.
In the end, it was Tim Kennedy who appeared like he really wanted that title shot as he completely outworked the former EliteXC champ over the course of three rounds to take a unanimous decision 30-27 across the boards.
Many were critical of Lawler's performance, but what did the H.I.T. Squad fighter do that was so perplexing?
We break it down and explain where each fighter goes from here after the jump.
As expected, Kennedy wasn't afraid to stand with Lawler, at least temporarily.
The Greg Jackson-trained fighter was definitely looking for the takedown but Lawler defended well early, with some wildly entertaining scrambles that saw both men take advantage of situations.
Kennedy finally found success when he began using strikes to set up takedowns and was able to put Lawler on his back for good. He used some respectable ground and pound to stay active enough to keep the fight on the ground.
In the third round, though, despite likely being down 0-2 on the scorecards, Lawler decided the best way to defeat Kennedy was by using the force as he bounced around staring at Kennedy for four and a half straight minutes, not even throwing a respectable strike in the round despite likely needing a finish.
Instead, Kennedy finished strong with a takedown and 30 seconds of pure ground and pound to close out the fight and earn the right to challenge for the middleweight title again.
For Robbie Lawler, who knows? He looked like he just didn't care any more after losing the first two rounds last night. There was no sense of urgency whatsoever and his Strikeforce record has now dropped to 2-4.
Maybe a fight with fellow down-on-his-luck middleweight Benji Radach would make sense. A match against fellow striker and spectator last night Cung Le would be interesting as well (if Le actually feels like returning to MMA). Either way, it's pretty obvious that Lawler isn't going to be a huge factor in the division anymore so they might as well make the most entertaining fights possible.
For Tim Kennedy, he's more than earned a title shot against the upcoming winner of the Luke Rockhold - "Jacare" Souza fight. He had a tough five round decision against Souza last year and he's now had two solid performances since. With the complete and utter lack of depth in the Strikeforce middleweight division, Kennedy is pretty much the only option right now.
With the work he's been putting in at Jackson's, the Army Green Beret could finally get that belt he's had his sights set on for the last two years.
Will Kennedy have a shot against the "Jacare" vs. Rockhold winner, or will it be more of the same? What do you do with Robbie Lawler now?