Some people watch The Ultimate Fighter purely for the fights and don’t like the reality TV element. These people tend to be party-pooping wet blankets who think that they’re too good for a little mindless voyeuristic entertainment. Either way, the stuffy “purists” were treated to almost two hours of nothing but fights on the Season 14 premiere of TUF on Wednesday. The fights were pretty solid – as to be expected from bantamweight and featherweight fighters.
Paul “Semtex” Daley is arguably the hardest hitting Welterweight in MMA. Nick Diaz began his fight with “Semtex” Saturday night by walking towards him, taunting him with his hands down at his side. That’s some crazy shit. Crazy like a fox? I think so. Diaz showed the cocky Brit how cocky is done – 209 style. But there’s definitely a method to Diaz’s madness. The conventional wisdom was that Diaz should try to get the fight to the ground where Daley is weakest and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu master has a huge advantage… but Nick Diaz ain’t no bitch. He’s said as much on many occasions. Nick doesn’t change the way he fights based on his opponent. He comes out, starts trash talking, looks for his openings and begins picking his opponent apart with his unorthodox but accurate and effective striking and if the fight happens to go to the ground, well, he’s certainly okay with that too.
Strikeforce’s latest showcase in San Diego, California last night put its stamp down in the Sunshine State. In the wake of recent tragedies, a Japanese submission machine took on one of the sport’s most colorful personalities as a message to stay strong to his native homeland. A fighter steps in on short notice to challenge a former champion in the hopes of regaining success under one of the largest promotions in the world. Two lightweights meet again in a rematch from their former PRIDE days, only this time a ten-pound strap of gold and pride is on the line. In the main event, a man bearing explosive striking from across the ponds takes on the hometown champion with the goal of stealing a title. With Strikeforce cards known not to pull any punches, here’s a recap of the events that took place. Added along is a look as to who the victors might see themselves standing against sometime soon.
—MAIN CARD (Showtime)—
Main event: Strikeforce Welterweight Championship
Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley: Diaz via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 4:57
Co-main event: Strikeforce Lightweight Championship
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri: Melendez via TKO (Elbows), Round 1, 3:14
Gegard Mousasi vs. Keith Jardine: MAJORITY DRAW (29-27, 28-28, 28-28), Round 3, 5:00
Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm: Aoki via Submission (Neck Crank), Round 1, 1:33
Strikeforce is set to take over Showtime this Saturday night with another full card of promising fights. Kicking off the main card, the master of flying submissions Shinya Aoki (19-5) returns to take on Lyle Beerbohm (15-1) who seeks to get back in the winner’s circle after tasting defeat for the first time back in February. UFC veteran “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1) steps in on a week’s notice to take on current DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1). The lightweight title is up for grabs when “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2) faces beloved Japanese grappler “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2). With San Diego saturated with already main-event worthy fights, British slugger “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2) hopes to get his hands on another professional title when welterweight champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) greets him in the headlining match. Capturing the title will prove Daley to be truly one of the top players of the game but with the recent tear Diaz is on, winning is easier said than done. Will it be a successful sophomore effort in Strikeforce for the lethal British brawler or will the native of “the 209” add another win to his growing streak? Let’s have a closer look at this match-up.
California’s most successful MMA promotion to date will make its first appearance as a Zuffa product in San Diego tomorrow night as Strikeforce presents Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley for the viewing pleasure of the mixed martial arts world. The night opens with a classic ground battle as Washington-native wrestler “Fancy Pants” Lyle Beerbohm (15-1) takes on world renowned submission expert “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (26-5) and a sure fired stand-up barn burner between Netherlands boxing machine “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1) and former UFC stand out “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1). The action will lead up to a main event between the Stockton-based welterweight champion “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) and former UFC welterweight contender “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2), but not before lightweight champion “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2) defends his title in a rematch against Japanese superstar “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2). The two warriors first met in 2006 at PRIDE: Shockwave where Melendez used his wrestling to counter the superior striking of Kawajiri on his way to a Unanimous Decision victory. Since then, both men have evolved and have seemed on a collision course ever since the announcement that Strikeforce and DREAM would be co-promoting.
San Diego, California gets its latest taste of MMA action when Strikeforce comes rolling in this Saturday night. The main card offers enough action to entertain even the more casual mixed martial arts fans, covering the full gamut with young up-and-comers, seasoned veterans, aspiring champions, and game competitors. Submission specialist Shinya Aoki (19-5) battles the always dangerous Lyle Beerbohm (15-1). Japanese wonder “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2) comes onto US soil with the goal of taking the lightweight title from “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2). In the main event, “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2) challenges current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) in a five-round battle. Within the chaos going on, former UFC superstar “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1) replaces an injured “MAK” Mike Kyle (14-8-1) to take on 205lbs. contender “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1). For Mousasi, every win gets him closer to regaining the light heavyweight title. With Jardine on the opposite end of him, Mousasi better tread carefully lest he wants to become a stepping stone to Jardine’s second change at glory.
San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center will be the site to host the second Strikeforce event, the first under the California-based company’s flagship promotion, under the Zuffa banner. The main card is stacked from top to bottom with some of the biggest names in Strikeforce including Welterweight Champion “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8), former UFC welterweight contender “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2), lightweight kingpin “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2), Japanese superstar Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2), “The Dream Catcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1), and The Ultimate Fighter alum “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1). Rounding out the star studded list is a match between Washington native wrestler “Fancy Pants” Lyle Beerbohm (15-1) and world class submission fighter “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (26-5). The match will mark the second time that the “10th Degree Black Belt of Flying Submissions” has fought in the United States in his illustrious career and will represent the continuing increase in the level of competition faced by Beerbohm. No match could better represent the increased quality of production and promotion brought by Zuffa as the opening bout of their first Strikeforce card.
—DREAM openweight bout—
Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Hiroshi Izumi: Izumi via TKO (Punches), Round 3, 2:50
—DREAM featherweight bout—
Kazuyuki Miyata vs. Caol Uno: Miyata via Unanimous Decision
—DREAM featherweight bout—
Hideo Tokoro vs. Kazuhisa Watanabe: Tokoro via Submission (Armbar), Round 3, 2:02
—DREAM Featherweight Championship Bout—
Bibiano Fernandes vs. Hiroyuki Takaya: Takaya via Unanimous Decision*
—DREAM lightweight bout—
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Josh Thomson: Kawajiri via Unanimous Decision
—DREAM welterweight bout—
Andy Ologun vs. Katsuaki Furuki: Ologun via Unanimous Decision
—DREAM welterweight bout—
Hayato Sakurai vs. Jason High: High via Split Decision
—DREAM Welterweight Championship bout—
Marius Žaromskis vs. Kazushi Sakuraba: Zaromskis via TKO (Doctor Stoppage), Round 1, 2:16**
—DREAM heavyweight bout—
Sergei Kharitonov vs. Tatsuya Mizuno: Kharitonov via KO (Knee), Round 1, 1:25
—DREAM heavyweight bout—
Jérôme Le Banner vs. Satoshi Ishii: Ishii via Unanimous Decision
—DREAM Interim Heavyweight Championship bout—
Alistair Overeem vs. Todd Duffee: Overeem via KO (Knee and Punches), Round 1, 0:19***
Gegard Mousasi vs. Kyotaro Fujimoto: Mousasi via Unanimous Decision
—K-1 MAX bout—
Akiyo Nishiura vs. Tetsuya Yamato: N/A, Majority Draw (30-30, 30-30, 29-30)
—DREAM/K-1 special rules bout—
Shinya Aoki vs. Yuichiro Nagashima: Nagashima via KO (Flying Knee and Punches), Round 2, 0:04
*Hiroyuki Takaya becomes the new DREAM Featherweight Champion.
**Marius Zaromskis retains his title as DREAM Welterweight Champion.
***Alistair Overeem earns the DREAM Interim Heavyweight Championship title.
Strikeforce lightweight “The Punk” Josh Thomson (17-3-1) not only has one of the coolest nicknames in MMA but also is one of the best lightweight fighters in the world when it comes to putting a hurt on his opponents. Thomson infiltrates the Japanese MMA market once again and puts himself to the test at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on New Year’s Eve when he faces PRIDE veteran and Shooto fighter Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2) at DREAM: Dynamite 2010.
With that date quickly encroaching many hope to see former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion “The Punk” have a better camp than he did in his contested win over American Top Team graduate “JZ” Gesias Cavalcante (14-3-1) in October where Thomson himself admitted to MMAJunkie.com that “it was the worst camp ever.” He elaborated, “I had ankle injuries. I had a partially torn MCL in my leg and my knee. Obviously I was having hand and wrist problems.” With all those complications, one would wonder why Thomson didn’t forfeit the fight but, to earn a nickname like “The Punk” it would have to take a lot of grit and determination which Thomson displayed in his fight with not only being stitched in his head due to “a headbutt kind of thing”, as Thomson called it, but also getting caught in the arm-in Guillotine Choke of Cavalcante.