Many people felt Pat Healy deserved the next shot at Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Healy instead took a fight with Mizuto Hirota, and now he'll have to wait and see if his performance impressed decision-makers enough to warrant a title opportunity.
Hirota, fairly unknown to U.S. audience though he is the lightweight champion in Japan's DEEP organization, certainly came to fight. He forced Healy to revert to his grinding style, and Healy was able to escape with a hard-fought 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 decision at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy.
Hirota got off to a good start in the first, taking Healy down and establishing his toughness, and Healy wasn't able to make immediate adjustments as Hirota was able to keep walking his way into a clinch where he had success scoring takedowns. He also did well in the standup, landing several power strikes per round.
Healy finally seemed to figure things out midway through, getting a takedown and working Hirota over a bit.
Even still, Hirota had his moments, repeatedly landing a powerful left hook.
The judges had to choose between Healy's activity vs. Hirota's effectiveness, and the former apparently won out. While Healy out-struck Hirota 93-57 overall, Hirota landed more power strikes, landing 32 to Healy's 24.
The win was the fifth consecutive for Healy, who is now 28-16.
Hirota had come in winning four of five, but the loss dropped him to 14-5-1.