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Strikeforce Challengers VII: 'Johnson vs Mahe' recap and final thoughts


Strikeforce has now officially wrapped up the seventh edition of it's "Challengers" series from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Here's how it all went down.

Everybody expected fireworks and a quick ending in the main event heavyweight fight between monsters Lavar Johnson and Lolohea Mahe. The Hawaiian had other ideas early on though, opting instead to control the fight with takedowns and ground control.

The strategy worked well for him in the first round. But all strategy was thrown out the window in the second as the two gassed out big men reverted to their true form and gave the Showtime fans the slugfest they were looking for.

Mahe was visibly worn out from the hard work he put in during the first round. He unsuccessfully tried to get the fight back to the ground early in the second round, but once he gave up on that, the rest of the fight was basically a exercise in how to take an ass whooping like a man. He refused to go down or give in to the relentless attack of Lavar Johnson.

The beating went on for about three minutes before the referee finally stepped in.

Former Elite XC heavyweight prospect and BET's "Iron Ring" reality show contestant Ron "Abongo" Humphrey made a successful debut tonight under the Strikeforce banner as a light heavyweight.

"Abongo" made quick work of George Bush III, timing an early takedown attempt from the "Team Hammerhouse" trainee beautifully to secure a fight ending guillotine choke in just under two minutes of work. Bush had scored on a takedown earlier in the round, but "Abongo" was ready for it the second time around with the submission attempt.

Bush was very effective early on with a vicious attack of leg kicks, both inside and out. He clearly had Humphrey frustrated, but the momentary lapse in defense made all that irrelevant.

In what was probably the fight of the night, welterweight jiu jitsu studs Andre Galvao and Luke Stewart battled back and forth for three entertaining rounds. Stewart was the aggressor for pretty much the entire fight, always pushing forward with punches and kicks, and he reversed pretty much every position Galvao had on the ground.

The fight was very close, but it seemed like Stewart had done enough to earn the decision. Two of the judges didn't see it that way, however, and Galvao was awarded the split decision victory.

I'll say again that the fight was very close. I suppose an argument could be made that Galvao won the first and third rounds, meaning he would have won the fight anyway. But one of the judges scored it bout 30-27 for Galvao, and from what I saw, there's no way Stewart didn't win the second round. I take issue with that, but again, I do think the argument can be made that Galvao still won the fight.

Miesha Tate was impressive again tonight, earning her third stoppage victory in a row since dropping a unanimous decision to current Strikeforce welterweight champion Sarah Kaufman last May. "Takedown" lived up to her nickname by taking her opponent, Zoila Frausto, to the mat numerous times before finally finishing her off with an armbar late in the second round.

Tate used her size to her advantage by controlling the hometown fighter on the mat with dominant positions and a hard working ground and pound approach. It's only a matter of time before she gets another crack at Kaufman, and with five minute rounds this time.

In the opening bout of the telecast, lightweight prospect Justin Wilcox - a fighter known for his wrestling - dominated Shamar Bailey with an impressive kickboxing attack despite an obvious disadvantage in reach. "The Silverback" mixed in several head kicks and punch combinations en route to a one sided decision victory. One judge even scored the fight 30-26 for the AKA product.

That's a wrap from Fresno.

Next up for Strikeforce is a return to network television on CBS with "Nashville" at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, April 17.

Former Pride FC multiple division champion Dan Henderson will make his debut for the promotion on the card, challenging middleweight champion Jake Shields for his 185 pound title in the headliner. Fan favorites Gegard Mousasi and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal are also slated to meet in a highly anticipated light heavyweight contest.

And lightweight title holder Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez will defend his strap against Japanese DREAM champion and submissions wizard Shinya Aoki.

Keep it locked to for more on that developing fight card and all your Strikeforce news and notes. For Strikeforce Challengers: "Johnson vs. Mahe" live results and play-by-play click here.

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