A tumultuous week for Strikeforce has finally come to an end…hopefully. The “Henderson vs. Babalu” event this Saturday was in serious jeopardy when over the past six days three of its bouts, including two from the main card, were scrapped due to fighter injuries. The promotion scrambled to find last-minute replacements to fulfill the ten-fight card Strikeforce promised its fans. Fill-ins “Semtex” Paul Daley (22-10-2) and “MAK” Mike Kyle (14-7-1) stepped up to the plate to take on “Hands of Steel” Scott Smith (16-7) and “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (13-2), respectively. Today it was announced that Strikeforce has filled its tenth and final slot with a match between “The Razor” Benji Radach (19-5) and Ovince St. Preux (8-4). The two fighters will meet in a welterweight match-up as the premier bout on the main card, which was originally intended for Herschel Walker (1-0) vs. Scott Carson (4-1).
Looks like Strikeforce’s December 4 “Henderson vs. Babalu” card might be making a comeback after all.
What promised to be the organization’s biggest event of the year was nearly reduced to shambles just last week after three of its biggest fan-drawing bouts, two of which were on the main card, were forcibly scrapped due to fighter injuries. The event’s deterioration began last Wednesday when 48-year-old former NFL great Herschel Walker (1-0) withdrew from his match against one-time WEC veteran Scott Carson (4-1) after sustaining a deep cut under his left eye during training. Then, that same day, welterweight Jesse Finney (6-1) dropped out of his main card fight with UFC veteran “Hands of Steel” Scott Smith (16-7), also due to an eye injury, for which he required immediate surgery. Just three days later one of the card’s biggest draws – “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (26-21) – also helped lighten the card’s load by pulling out of his fight with former Elite XC Heavyweight Champion “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (13-2) after suffering an elbow injury. Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu suddenly was reduced in size by one-third, and the change in line-up left the promotion scrambling to find comparable replacements on short notice. But all is not lost.
When former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion “Hands of Steel” Scott Smith (16-7) enters the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday to make his official weight for his battle with “Semtex” Paul Daley (22-10-2) at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu the next day, he will be in a new division once again. Smith began his career at heavyweight then gradually descended through the weight classes and will take on his first welterweight opponent in the British knockout artist.
Strikeforce has been plagued by problems leading into what should be their true breakthrough card on December 4. Aside from the mishandling of PR resources, lack of marketing, and the long period of inactivity that typically affects the Strikeforce main promotion, the December 4 card headlined by “Hendo” Dan Henderson (25-8) and “Babalu” Renato Sobral (33-9) has been plagued by fighter injuries. As is par for the course, Strikeforce faces heavy counter-programming from the untouchable media juggernaut that is the UFC. This time, it’s in the form of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 12, a card which carries an entire season’s worth of hype as well as the first appearance of bantamweights (135lbs.) and featherweights (145lbs.) in the UFC. Strikeforce was set to counter the UFC, at least amongst the extremely hardcore fans and the extremely casual fans, with a card featuring not only the majority of Strikeforce’s big name fighters, but also the casual fan ratings magnet former NFL Pro-bowler and SEC college football great Herschel Walker (1-0). Then it all began to fall apart.
The UFC has given the sports-loving demographic yet another reason to be glued to a big screen TV on Superbowl weekend in the form of UFC 126. Lightweight “Hands of Stone” Sam Stout (16-6-1) vs. Britain’s Paul Kelly (11-3) has just been added to the card already featuring the long awaited UFC Middleweight Championship battle between current champ “The Spider” Anderson Silva (27-4) and “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort, as well as allegedly offering fan favorite Forrest Griffin (17-6) taking on “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5), light heavyweight title contenders “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-0) and “Bones” Jon Jones (11-1), Antonio Banuelos (18-6) facing former WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres (37-3), and Jake Ellenberger (22-5) vs. Jon Fitch (22-3)*. The event will air live from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 5.
When British welterweight slugger “Semtex” Paul Daley (22-10-2) is mentioned, several things come to mind: wicked left hook, knockout power, smack-talker…But what about sucker punch, bad sportsman, and sore loser?
Daley is most remembered for his run through the UFC’s welterweight division, TKO’ing former top contenders “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4) and “McLovin” Dustin Hazelett (15-6) and quickly climbing up the ranks in the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion. However, he unfortunately is remembered even more so for the unsportsmanlike sucker punch he intentionally threw at Josh Koscheck’s (15-4-0) head after the final bell had already rang in their bout at UFC 113 this last spring. Much to Daley’s dismay, Koscheck utilized his skills as an NCAA Div. I National Champion to out-wrestle his opponent and nullify “Semtex” on the mat for the majority of the 15-minute match. His frustration with the fight as well as some brash comments by “Kos” caused the Brit to lash out and clock his adversary as he was returning to his corner. The incident was ill-perceived by the MMA community, the athletic commission, and UFC President Dana White, who consequently issued Daley his walking papers.
On November 20, two men faced each other in a bout that exposed every conceivable error in the way the Unified Rules of mixed martial arts regulates the judging of MMA competition. “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (16-2) faced “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (29-8) in what resulted in a Split Decision victory for “Rampage” that is more questioned than contested. Valid arguments can be made for every possible outcome of the fight. Be it a draw, a win for Jackson, or a win for Machida, there was no “wrong” scoring of this bout under the current criteria listed under the 10-Point Must Scoring System used to score bouts in MMA. This is truly a major problem that hits a lot harder than anyone other than a top level fighter could know. To an outside observer, a fan, a journalist, or even a promoter, the problem of a scoring system with that degree of malleability concerning closely contested bouts doesn’t pose a threat to the integrity of the sport as a whole, and in fact it doesn’t. However, UFC President Dana White said it right when he stated at the UFC 123 post fight press conference,
It isn’t like being in the NBA. Those guys lose a game due to bad officiating and it’s like ‘so what?’ they have 115 games a season to make up for it. But with these guys you aren’t just affecting their pay or their record, you are affecting their legacy. This is how these fighters are going to be remembered by history.”
Imagine standing across the cage from your opponent, staring him in the eye, finally facing him. Everything in the last several months has been leading up to this moment. It feels like it’s been an eternity. The bell sounds and the referee signals the beginning of the fight. You and your opponent emerge from your corners, ready to do battle. Immediately your adversary throws a flying knee, but you block it. Then as you both step back, you realize that something is different. Your vision is blurry, and your left eye burns with pain. Something is very wrong.
It’s a fighter’s worst nightmare. But this was the reality of Waachiim Spiritwolf’s (6-6-1) battle with DREAM Welterweight Champion “The Whitemare” Marius Zaromskis (13-4-1) at Strikeforce Challengers 12 last Friday.
In the opening seconds of their battle, Zaromskis threw a flying knee as he closed in on Spiritwolf. His hands were extended out as if he intended on pulling Spiritwolf’s head into the knee. Spiritwolf was quick enough to block the knee, but in the process was inadvertently poked in the eye by one of Zaromskis’ fingers. “The Whitemare” must have realized what happened, as he immediately went back to his corner without even being told to do so. The ref stepped in and examined Spiritwolf’s left eye then allowed the fighter to take five minutes to recover from the eye poke. After several minutes offered no improvement for his vision, the ringside doctor examined Waachiim and deemed him clear to continue the fight if he felt up for doing so. He was given several more minutes to decide. Spiritwolf complained that his eye was still bothering him, and that his vision was becoming increasingly blurry and dark. The doctor entered the cage for a second time and examined Spiritwolf’s eye again. The welterweight had sustained a cut on his eyelid that was quickly swelling. After a series of questions and another evaluation of Spiritwolf’s left eye, the doctor regarded the fighter unfit to continue. The bout was ruled a No Contest. Both competitors left the ring clearly upset about the fight’s outcome. The crowd was vocal about their discontent with one of the most highly-anticipated matches on the card coming to such a sudden stop and without first showing any action.
Cut Throat MMA was featured as the very first installment of MMA Gospel’s Amateur Spotlight Series in July. The long running Chicago amateur MMA promotion received high scores from MMA Gospel and was lauded as an organization that many professional shows could learn from. On November 6, 2010, Cut Throat MMA made the transition from local amateur promotion to regional pro/am competitor. MMA Gospel was on hand at the Hammond Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana to witness the promotion grow in the sport just as many of its fighters have in the past. As with all major transitions, there were some growing pains for Cut Throat that put the solid two-show-a-month promotion to the test and it will be for the fans to judge whether or not they passed. The card featured the same even matchmaking and focus on the fighters that Cut Throat has brought amateurs in the past and if they continue along those lines, Cut Throat should be a solid alternative to the XFO for regional professional fighters within the next few years.
Last week, MMA Gospel and Ed Perdomo went over the basics of standing guillotine defense and how to use it to set up a hard slam to side mount. It is never a good idea to assume that one move will finish the fight, so as usual MMA Gospel has broken down several ways to finish the opponent following the previous week’s technique, This week, Ed Perdomo will take us through a devastating Over Hook Armbar from the side mount that feeds directly from the landing position of the slam. The use of an over hook style Armbar ensures immediate victory by submission or TKO as it is a finishing hold as opposed to a submission lock.
While most UFC 123 spectators will agree that “Hurricane” Gerald Harris (17-3) had an unexpectedly disappointing and lackluster performance against UFC newcomer “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (8-1), many were still shocked when it was announced today that Harris had been released from the UFC. To say the cut seems unwarranted is a vast understatement. Prior to his loss at UFC 123, Harris was coasting along on a ten-fight winning streak and boasted an undefeated 3-0 record in the UFC, with two of those victories earning “Knockout of the Night” honors. In his professional MMA career, “Hurricane” finished 15 of his 17 defeated opponents via TKO, KO, or submission, respectively. Clearly, Harris is no chump.
Reports began circulating today that newly crowned UFC Featherweight Champion “Junior” Jose Aldo (17-1) may be forced to pull out of his first UFC title defense with number-one contender “The Fluke” Josh Grispi (14-1) at UFC 125 on New Year’s Day. Aldo reportedly sustained a compacted vertebrae which resulted in tingling in both of his arms. ESPN.com’s Josh Gross learned from Aldo’s management that the injury will sideline Aldo for “at least a month for therapy.”
Strikeforce made its first trip to the state of Mississippi on Friday night, settling in the city of Jackson to host Challengers 12. The card housed a roster of talented fighters – including locals as well those who hailed from other countries – and did not disappoint fans. There were some long-fought battles, some that ended more quickly and in a glorious fashion, and one that ended abruptly in a rather tragic No Contest. Here, MMA Gospel recaps Strikeforce’s twelfth effort in their Challengers series.
Back when I was a little boy, I dreamed that one day I’d make jokes on the Internet that would make many hundreds of people somewhat amused. Of course, the Internet didn’t exist then so that just proves what a visionary I was. Needless to say, I have made that dream come true. First it was the KOS’d phenomenon. Which you can read up on here if you somehow missed it. Now, I invented TEAM MEATBERRY. I remember it like it was only a couple of days ago…