The Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Kennedy" event taking place tonight (Sat., July 14, 2012) at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon, featured middleweight maulers Robbie Lawler and Lorenz Larkin squaring off.
Lawler was impressive in his win over Adlan Amagov earlier this year but he's still quite a ways off from contendership at 185-pounds. Larkin regained his undefeated record after his loss to Muhammed Lawal was overturned thanks to a positive drug test for "King Mo" but he looked terrible in that fight.
That wasn't the case here.
Though he was rocked early in the fight, Larkin recovered quick thanks to a weird decision on Lawler's part to utilize the clinch far too often. He proceeded to work a takedown, a submission attempt, a big kick, punches, elbows. He was better than Lawler and it showed in his winning a unanimous decision by scores of 30-27 across the board.
That was one hell of a middleweight debut.
It took 30 seconds for the first strike to being thrown, which was a front kick from Lawler. He was light on his feet, bouncing around and looking as loose as ever. Larkin fired off a head kick and a low leg kick shortly after. Maybe one punch had been thrown after one minute of action.
Then Robbie threw another and it landed clean to the temple. Larkin seemed to be okay at first but his legs nearly giving out underneath him betrayed the fact that he was hurt ... badly.
Lawler charged him but wasn't able to land the big knockout blow.
Instead, they clinched against the cage and this allowed Larkin to recover. Once he did, he tripped Lawler to the floor and landed some strong shots from top position. If nothing else, it helped sway the momentum back his way.
The remainder of the round saw the two battling against the fence, exchanging knees and punches and elbows in the clinch.
The second round saw a lot of the same action. Larkin looked far superior standing, and for whatever reason, Lawler continued pushing with the clinch against the cage. Midway through the round, it almost cost him when Larkin jumped a guillotine.
Larkin continued his assault, drawing blood with a big kick that had "Ruthless" leaking from the top of his head.
With only one round left until the judges scored in his opponent's favor, Lawler came out swinging heavy and hoping for a finish he needed to win the bout. They did some more clinching, though, and at some point, Lawler looked like he lost whatever he had left in his gas tank.
With one minute to go, Pat Miletich wondered aloud why Lawler wasn't pulling the trigger.
The answer never came and Lawler lost again.
Remember, too, to check out MMAmania.com's ongoing live coverage of the Strikeforce event tonight by clicking here.