Falling Action: Best and Worst of Strikeforce Challengers 10

Usually when I'm watching MMA fights on TV, I don't want to risk a bathroom break in the middle of a fight for fear of missing something important. But with last night's Strikeforce 135-pound women's tournament and its three-minute rounds, I felt like I was always just one especially long sneeze away from missing the entire fight.

Not that I don't understand the thinking behind the abbreviated tournament bouts. If you have to fight twice in the span of an hour, maybe you appreciate an outing that's more appetizer than entrée.

That is, unless you lose a decision because you got taken down twice and there wasn't much time to do anything else that might negate that. Then you probably feel like you got screwed, and you also probably feel like you need to hit the treadmill afterwards just so you can get a full workout in.

But that's all relatively petty griping on my part. We were still treated to an interesting night of fights, and in the end the women's tournament brought a level of excitement that we don't always see on Challengers cards. If only we had gotten to see just a little more of it.

Now on to last night's winners, losers, and everything in between from Strikeforce Challengers 10.

Biggest Winner: Miesha Tate
She took home the tournament belt (by the way, that's kind of weird, right? how about a trophy or a medal or something?) with two solid performances that really showed how much she's improved in the last year or so. The adjustments she made between the first and second rounds against Akano were evidence of a more mature fighter who's learning how to find and exploit her opponents' weaknesses. Too bad we're probably going to have wait at least six months to see her get another crack at the 135-pound title. What's a young fighter supposed to do in the meantime to stay sharp and earn a living?

Biggest Loser: Referee Ron Mation
Normally I try to support people who have names that sound cool when you say it really fast all together (I can't be the only one who thinks 'ronmation' sounds like a 19th century metal-working technique), but this guy hardly seems qualified to referee pro fights. You don't stand fighters up because you're bored or the crowd is restless. You certainly don't stand them up when one fighter is in a dominant position. If that's news to you, maybe you should pursue a line of work where you can get by on the power of your awesome name alone. Might I suggest directing adult movies?

Most Delusional: Joe Riggs
Before this fight "Diesel" insisted that the female fighters shouldn't complain about a lack of exposure, since the men are the main attraction. That made it sadly ironic that his main event bout against Louis Taylor felt like such an anti-climactic afterthought following the women's tournament. The vastly more experienced Riggs got the win we all expected him to, then called out Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz for good measure. Sorry, but even if you did beat him by decision a few years back, being 1-1 in your last two fights doesn't qualify you for an instant title shot.

Most Likely to Be Mistaken For His Father Over the Phone: Ryan Couture
Once you hear Couture the Younger talk, there can be no doubt who his father is. He's inherited Randy's speaking cadence, and also his somewhat uncomfortable intensity, but it's still much too early to say whether he's destined for the same athletic greatness. Don't get me wrong, a submission victory in the first minute of your pro debut is never a bad thing. But, for the sake of perspective, let's remind ourselves that he did it against an opponent who was 2-4 coming into this bout. The best thing we can do for young Couture at this point is treat him like any other fighter. Maybe he'll grow into something great, and maybe he won't. Until we know for sure though, let's just see if we can get him to call Chuck Liddell late at night and pretend to be Randy.

Most Impressive in Defeat: Hitomi Akano

First of all, can we all agree that "Girlfight Monster" is, if not the best nickname of all time, at least in the top five? Good. Secondly, Akano's toughness and resilience, even in defeat, never fail to make a strong impression. That was the case in last night's tournament just as it was when she fought "Cyborg" Santos in match-up so physically lopsided it could have easily been a Japanese "Super Hulk" tournament fight. Whoever fights Akano, they know they're in for a night of real work. She doesn't quit and she doesn't back down. You can't ask for much more than that.

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