The San Jose-based mixed martial arts organization Strikeforce made a successful trip to the Broomfield Events Center in Denver, Colo., with "Payback" last night. There were some exciting finishes and several young, up-and-coming prospects on display.
Hometown fighter Duane "Bang" Ludwig avenged a previous defeat to Sam "The Squeeze" Morgan in the main event of the night.
Here's how all the main card action played out.
The first fight of the HDNet broadcast was a battle of 145 pounders as Tyler Toner and Ricky Johnson met in the cage. Toner used a very impressive variety of kicks and strikes to overwhelm Johnson for a technical knockout victory.
A bloodied up Johnson somehow survived into the second round, but Toner was way too much for him. He took a mounted position midway through the second and finished him off.
The next bout featured the gorgeous Michelle "The Karate Hottie" Waterson taking on Tyra Parker in a 112 pound female scrap. Waterson proved to be more than a pretty face by finishing Parker in just over a minute with a rear naked choke.
Carlos Zevallos made his professional MMA debut a successful one against Andrew "The Silencer" Walker. He was rocked by a big left hand right off the bat, and looked to be on his way out. But he weathered the storm, and Walker blew his load trying for the finish.
Zevallos stayed composed and eventually was able to get the fight to the mat where he worked for the full mount and pounded out his exhausted opponent late in the first round.
Strikeforce lightweight up and coming star Billy Evangelista survived an early scare from ex-UFC fighter Luke Caudillo to regroup for a unanimous decision win.
Once "Lil Hulk" failed to finish the fight when he had Evangelista reeling early, he appeared frustrated and couldn't put anything else together for the rest of the fight. Evangelista grinded out the second and third rounds using timely strikes and some decent ground and pound to remain undefeated.
Another UFC veteran was also unsuccessful at "Payback." Pete Spratt was outworked for the entire fight by Donnie Liles, succumbing to a rear naked choke midway through the last round, losing for the third time in his last four fights.
This was Liles' Strikeforce debut and he certainly earned himself a spot on a future card. Expect to see him again.
The co-main event was a match between two experienced MMA vets, Niko Vitale and Frank Trigg. It would have certainly been worthy of main event status had the card not been in Denver - hometown of Duane Ludwig.
Trigg used an aggressive attack with a lot of knees, punches and takedowns to earn the unanimous decision win. This was the fifth win in the last six fights for "Twinkle Toes" all against quality opposition.
Duane Ludwig handed Sam Morgan his fourth loss in a row with a first round submission from strikes in the main event. After a little back and forth from the ground to the feet, "Bang" drilled Morgan with a left hand to the body followed up by huge right hand that put him on the mat.
Ludwig went in for the kill and Morgan didn't have an intelligent defense other than tapping out.
For the most part "Payback" was a solid event. There were a few dry spells and there could have been a little more star power. But there were some exciting comebacks, quality finishes, and a wide variety of mixed martial arts. Overall it was enjoyable night of fights.
Next up for Strikeforce is a return trip home to the HP Pavillion in San Jose, Calif., on November 21. Company Lightweight Champion Josh "The Punk" Thomson is expected to defend his title for the first time against a yet to be determined opponent in the main event.
Possible candidates include Mitsuhiro Ishida and Gilbert Melendez among others ... see you then!