Boy, Strikeforce in 2012 is going to be really fun, right?
If last night's (Sat., Jan. 7, 2012) "Rockhold vs. Jardine" event is any indication, the fresh outlook for the promotion after it re-upped with Showtime has quickly flown out the window and been replaced with that same old feeling. You know, like when a funnel cloud is forming in the distance and you're getting pelted with rain and hail awaiting the tornado that is undoubtedly on its way.
But it's slow forming and taking its sweet time.
The funnel cloud took its form last night in a clear mismatch of a main event between Luke Rockhold, the promotion's middleweight champion and budding superstar, and Keith Jardine, an old war hog whose best days were behind him about two years ago.
"The Dean of Mean" is a veteran of the game, sure, and he's feisty as all hell, yeah, but Rockhold was a -600 favorite come fight night and no well-informed mixed martial arts (MMA) fan was picking an upset here. The fight was a foregone conclusion, and that's a problem when trying to sell a legitimate contest.
So it was no surprise, then, that Luke used the force and blasted Jardine to smithereens in the very first round, bullying him around the cage and flash knocking him out a few times before the referee saved whatever brain cells are left floating around in Keith's head.
Jardine said he wanted to make it a gritty, ugly fight but not like this. Not another instance of the Greg Jackson pupil getting separated from his senses yet again.
The funnel cloud continued to take shape when Rockhold was given some mic time in his post-fight interview with Mauro Ranallo. When asked what his thoughts are on Tim Kennedy as a potential next challenger to his title, Rockhold was noncommittal and acted as though that fight was the furthest thing from his mind.
What is on his mind, you say? Why the UFC, of course. Fighting inside the Octagon, "where all the best fighters in the world are."
That's the perception Dana White and company created and that's what they'll have to contend with regarding Strikeforce going forward, not just with the fans, but with the fighters, as well. There's a storm brewing, folks, and it's not going to be pretty when it hits.
The co-main event of the evening featured Robbie Lawler picking up what had to be the most astonishing knockout victory of his career when he landed what looked to be a flying knee but may have actually been a flying cup.
Or actually, the "Ruthless" hitman from Illinois may have put Adlan Amagov out with a flying teabag.
Really, it didn't matter. Amagov landed an illegal knee just moments prior that set the stage for Lawler to get his revenge via knee, cup, whatever you want it to be. Truth be told, his follow up shots on the ground were far more effective than anything that came before it.
After all these years, we can always count on Lawler to keep it interesting.
That's not necessarily the case for Tyron Woodley, who's earned himself the moniker of a darker skinned version of Jon Fitch. In many ways, that's not a bad thing, as "T-Wood" took Jordan Mein down at will and had his way with him.
It was a winning strategy and likely a necessary one if he wants to contest for the vacant 170-pound title that Nick Diaz left behind when he bolted for the UFC.
But, not unlike Fitch, there likely aren't many in the world of MMA who will be clamoring to see Woodley carrying a title anytime soon. Is he talented? Most definitely. One of the best fighters in the division? He may very well be.
Is he also boring as all get out? Survey says ...
100 - Yes.
Nonetheless, Woodley has done enough in Strikeforce to earn a title shot and at some point winning has to hold up on its own, right?
That's the word coming out of the Tarec Saffiedine camp, or at least it should be, following his split decision victory over Tyler Stinson. "The Sponge" soaked up all of Stinson's offense by stifling him for three rounds via the tried and true strategy of takedown-top control, takedown-top control, takedown-top control.
Even then, one judge -- though they were wacky much of the night -- scored the bout for Stinson, who was far superior striking and stayed relatively busy off his back.
All this would look far worse for Saffiedine if a certain little nugget of information didn't come out shortly after the event concluded. Tarec, you see, suffered a broken arm in the first round. And that's what led to his ground heavy approach the next two frames.
Kind of hard to throw punches when your bones are clicking together.
Perhaps that gives him the pass Woodley won't get and he's positioned himself for a rematch against Tyron later this year with the welterweight strap up for grabs. Neither man sold the fight well with their performances last night but it's impossible to argue with the results.
In the form of about 20 punches to the grill, eight of which were entirely unnecessary.
Indeed, "King Mo" used his strong wrestling to take the fight to the mat and overwhelm Larkin, who was simply in over his head and quickly found himself without a clear path to victory. When Lawal started throwing bombs and they were landing on the sweet spot, it was clear to everyone watching, the fight was done.
Except referee Kim Winslow, who let Larkin take far too many extra blows to the head. Even Lawal told her as much when he was being announced the victor.
Nonetheless, he made a big statement. Now that he's signed to a new four-fight deal that will keep him with the promotion, it will be a surprise if he's not fighting for the vacant light heavyweight title in his next bout.
That's enough from us. Now it's your turn to discuss Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Jardine" in the comments section below. Anyone else feeling like the promotion isn't nearly as fun now that the Zuffa overlords have made their mark? Or is there much more to look forward to than I'm giving credit?
Let's hear it, Maniacs.
Be sure to also check out our complete Strikeforce blow-by-blow coverage of the entire "Rockhold vs. Jardine" event right here.
While you're at it, check out our fight-by-fight recaps and immediate reactions for the Showtime action:
- Strikeforce results: Luke Rockhold knocks out Keith Jardine to defend middleweight championship (Article here)
- Strikeforce results: Robbie Lawler flying knee (?) knocks out Adlan Amagov (Article here)
- Strikeforce results: Tyron Woodley wrestles his way past Jordan Mein (Article here)
- Strikeforce results: Tarec Saffiedine outworks Tyler Stinson for split decision win (Article here)
- Strikforce results: Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal knocks out Lorenz Larkin (Article here)