Would the night live up to its billing? Here's a hint: yes.
In the first televised fight of the night, Mike Whitehead took on Kevin "The Monster" Randleman. Randleman has always been one of the most talented guys in MMA. That said, there have been all types of lapses, mental difficulties, and more. Coming in the question was, could he come back from injury to once again make his mark?
Whitehead connec ted with several low kicks and then a body kick to start things off. Then he threw a high kick that missed, allowing Randleman to come forward with a takedown. But Whitehead got up soon after. After some work in the clinch, Whitehead dropped a level and took Randleman down. But that was short lived, as Randleman flipped him over and got up. Again, Whitehead came forward and took his adversary down only to watch Randleman turn him over quickly. Then came another takedown by Whitehead. This time he moved straight to Randleman's half guard. But when he tried to move to full mount, Whitehead was again turned over. On their feet, Randleman connected with a nice punch. Whitehead hit home with a couple of strong uppercuts and jabs. Soon after, Whitehead took him down again. And that's how the round ended.
A clear round for Whitehead. He's outwrestling Randleman, which is surprising.
Whitehead started off the second with a nice right hand. Then he shot in and took Randleman down again. Eventually, he moved to side control. From there, Whitehead looked to smother his opponent for a significant amount of time before moving to mount. Then Randleman somehow managed to get up, following the feat up with a hard upper cut and jab. Whitehead answered with a couple of shots of his own. Inaction took them the rest of the way.
Whitehead clearly took the second round as well. Randleman needs a stoppage or he loses.
Randleman half connected with a big punch to start things off in the third. From there, Whitehead began connecting in spots with his punches. But then a huge left by Randleman dropped his opponent. He then followed things up on the ground with several hammerfists; but Whitehead persevered to his feet. Soon after, the two traded jabs. Then Whitehead took Randleman down, ending up in half guard and looking for a kimura. At around the 45 second mark, Randleman got to his feet.
This is a fun fight!
Whitehead connected with a hard right that didn't really seem to phase his adversary. Then a jab by Randleman ended things.
Whitehead clearly won the fight, even if the third round was close. But Randleman showed heart.
Mike Whitehead wins via unanimous decision.
Next up was a fight between Phil Baroni and Joe Riggs. "I'm a real fighter. I got in this before it was popular to prove myself, to be tough," said Baroni. Of course, Riggs was a real fighter too. Question was, which man would prove to be the better fighter on this night.
The two clinched early on, and Riggs immediately took Baroni down. From there, he took his opponent's back. But Baroni fought his way to the guard. After taking a hard shot, Baroni gave up his back again. Then things moved to half guard. Baroni shimmied to the cage wall, trying to use it to get up. Then he did get up, only to be deposited back down again. When Baroni got up again, Riggs went for a takedown that actually allowed Baroni to take the top position. "The New York Badass" then started hitting home with punches to the midsection. With a relative lack of action, John McCarthy brought them to their feet. Riggs threw one punch and shot in for the takedown, but Baroni sprawled out and ended up on top throwing some punches. That's how the round ended.
That was a close stanza. Riggs probably won it, but it was close enough to be entertaining.
Riggs connected with a body kick early on in the second. Then he connected with another. The two traded punches. Riggs landed a strike and then took Baroni down. Once again, Baroni got to his feet. Interestingly, he then took Riggs down to the canvas with a double leg. Riggs got up but ate some punches on the way. Then Riggs connected with some hard shots before they broke. He then landed some low kicks. Baroni shot in, but his efforts got him nowhere. Then a big knee from Riggs landed. The two then started looking for takeodwns on one another to no avail. Riggs connected with a couple of strikes and Baroni shot in for the takedown again. Though he didn't get it, Riggs pulled guard moments later and nearly sunk in a triangle. But Baroni got out and connected with some mild punches before the bell.
Joe Riggs won that round. If he won a close first stanza, Baroni needs a stoppage for victory.
Riggs started the final round out with a low kicks. Then came a big knee inside followed by a flurry. Then Riggs connected with a spinning sidekick. Riggs began connecting from every possible angle, including some very impressive flying knees. Baroni is one tough guy. Riggs is putting on a clinic. The only positive thing you could say for Baroni was that he once again showed his amazing toughness and threw some big punches at the end. But just before the bell, Riggs took him down just to add to the point total.
Another entertaining fight. So far this Strikeforce card is living up to its billing.
Joe Riggs wins via unanimous decision.
Next up was one of the big ones: Nick Diaz vs. Scott Smith. "I have the heart; I'm never going to give up," said Smith coming in. Well, everyone knows that Diaz never gives up. So if both showed up with that mentality? this was going to be one outstanding fight.
Smith landed a nice right hand early on. Then he connected with a nice right in the clinch. Diaz, as usual, began taunting and then started connecting with those punches in bunches of his. As often is the case, the shots seemed soft but began to take a toll. In fact, after a head kick that landed from Diaz, Smith looked somewhat rattled. Smith then hit home with a huge right. But he followed up too quickly and got nailed by Diaz for his efforts. After taking some abuse, Smith shut off the taunting with a big right. He then took his opponent's back on their feet after a clinch and took Diaz down hard, getting right up afterwards. Diaz once again began hitting home with strikes in bunches. Smith connected with a good low kick and then landed several punches at the end in a flurry, before Diaz took him down near the bell.
That was an excellent round. A close one, too.
Diaz started the second with punches in bunches. Smith landed a huge right hand to Diaz's body. But then Diaz began doing what he does; connecting with punches from everywhere. The shots clearly began to do what they always do, as Smith was looking hurt. Punch after punch. Diaz's cardio is just amazing and his fighting style is unique; there's no two ways about it. Basically, the whole round was about him coming forward and connecting with punches all over the place. At the end of the stanza, Smith slumped to the canvas. He was hurt. But he was game to keep fighting.
The third round started off like a war; along with this, both fighters connected with punches. Smith was clearly in it to win it, throwing big shots everywhere. But then Diaz connected with a body shot that left Smith on the canvas. He followed him there and took his back. Moments later, came the choke.
Nick Diaz wins by way of a rear-naked choke at 1:41 of round three. It really seems that he's a better fighter in these higher weight classes.
Next up was a fight between Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers. "I'm gonna knock him out, first round," said Rogers. What else was there to say?
Arlovski connected with a low kick early on. Then Rogers connected with a flurry that included a huge left hand that dropped the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Then that was that.
That's right, Rogers knocked Arlovski out in lightning fast fashion. Can you believe it? Brett Rogers is certainly for real.
Brett Rogers wins via TKO after 22 seconds in round one.
Remember the days when it used to be all about the striker vs. the grappler in MMA? You know, the old Royce Gracie days? Well, of course those days are for the most part over. That said, when it came to the main event of the evening there was certainly a grappler vs. striker feel with Jake Shields taking on Robbie Lawler. After all, if the fight went to the ground for any significant length of time, Shields would probably win. If the opposite were to occur, the fight would almost certainly go to Lawler.
Let's get to it.
Early on, Shields shot in looking for the takedown. It looked like he was going to get it, but then Lawler got right up, using his strength and weight advantage. While struggling inside, Lawler connected with a couple of nice punches. Shield landed a body kick and then a jab. Despite the fact that Shields was looking uncomfortable and somewhat stiff on his feet, he did connect with several kicks on his opponent. Then they clinched, and Shields jumped into a guillotine. Lawler tried to stand up out of it.
But that made no difference.
Jake Shields wins by way of guillotine choke at 2:02 of round one.
In the end, Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields was an awesome night of fights. Every fight, either for shock value, a great ending, or just a plain entertaining fight, was worth watching. It was UFC worthy in every way, which is a rarity these days.
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