Strikeforce closed out its final event with the same gusto that made them the gem of second-rate, bootleg MMA organizations. There were quick finishes brought about by absurd match-making, some thrilling tussles, and a fairly big upset. Because they do not award any Fight Night bonuses to our knowledge, the participants of this momentous closing act deserve some just recognition.
Best ‘Oh Shit’ Moment: When Anthony Smith got taken down by Roger Gracie with over three minutes left in the second round. Before that Smith had done a great job of keeping Gracie at a distance. It helped that in the opening stanza Roger looked like someone gave him a Quaalude right before the fight. But apparently it wore off in the second as he came out with some out-of-character aggression, not to mention that Smith took a couple pokes/hits in the eye and couldn’t see. Nevertheless, on his back with ample time on the clock is not where Smith wanted to be against one of the greatest grapplers in the history of the universe. From there it didn’t take long for Gracie to sink in an arm triangle for the tap…and a little more tapping…and a little more before finally the referee stepped in to save his ass from unconsciousness.
Most Impressive Use of Counterproductive Jiu Jitsu: Kurt Holobaugh. There are few things as entertaining in MMA as a fighter with an active guard. It’s just fun to watch a guy string together submission attempt after submission attempt, regardless of whether or not they work. There are also few things as futile to the goal of actually winning. Holobaugh threw everything and a bag of pork rinds at Pat Healy, and not only did nothing even come close to succeeding, but he committed the cardinal sin of MMA – he gave up position. Tough to be critical of a guy for trying, but in high level MMA, submissions from the bottom are rare, whereas losing from the bottom is quite common. Hopefully Holobaugh learned his lesson though. He’s an exciting young fighter.
Dumbest Nickname: Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith. I’m sure “Hot Sauce” has some sort of significance that we just are not privy to. I like to think that Trevor lost a bet once that required him to put a few dashes of Tabasco into his dickhole, or something cool like that, because if he just came up with it out of the blue it’s pretty damn lame.
Officiating Blunder that Most Chapped Dana White’s Ass: The Ryan Couture/K.J. Noons decision. For three rounds, Couture stalked Noons, landing several low kicks, a few spinning kicks to the body, a couple solid knees, and several significant strikes. Also for three rounds, however, he got housed in the stand-up by the counter-fighting Noons. It seemed every time Couture waded in, he got clocked. Yet the decision went to Couture. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a blowout by any means, and it was a very good fight, but it was clearly a fight that Noons should have won. Dana tweeted afterward that Noons got robbed, and as much as it pains me to agree with him, I must.
Scariest Guy Who Simply Can’t Fight: Nandor Guelmino. Looking the way this guy does, and with a name like Nandor, he could be a character in a Conan movie. I can picture him as one of Thulsa Doom’s henchmen, taking great joy in maliciously hanging Conan from the Tree of Woe. But within about ten seconds last night, Josh Barnett had Nandor on the Wheel of Pain as he bum-rushed him into the cage and scored an easy takedown, and from there it was just a matter of a couple minutes until Barnett locked on an arm triangle, not even bothering to abandon the full mount for the technically superior side position. No shame in losing to Barnett, but putting forth no fight whatsoever and failing to live up to a great fucking name like Nandor is unforgivable.
He Whoeth Brought Most Shame to his Team: Mike Kyle. Kyle trains at American Kickboxing Academy with wrestling juggernauts such as Daniel Cormier (Olympian), Cain Velasquez (All-American), Jon Fitch (Purdue team captain), and formerly Josh Koscheck (All-American and national champion). He got easily taken down by Gegard Mousasi, a highly talented fighter who has only one glaring weakness: wrestling. How a guy can train with bad ass wrestlers, day in and day out for years, and get taken down by a kickboxer from The Netherlands – where I doubt they even have a word for wrestling – is beyond comprehension. I suppose it matters not though, as Kyle has announced his retirement from the sport following the first round submission loss.
Best Meat Tenderizer Method: Tarec Saffiedine’s leg kicks. In the night’s biggest and really only upset, Tarec battered Nate Marquardt’s leg with thunderous kicks from the opening bell until the final buzzer. Nate sports an impressive physique, and his legs appear to be quite firm. But like a cheap steak that needs to be thoroughly pounded out and tenderized to be even remotely palatable, Tarec destroyed Nate’s rigid left thigh, making it look like a piece of ckuck after a meeting with a mallet. It was this strategy, along with Tarec’s stellar takedown defense and strong clinch work that allowed him to beat a 3-1 favorite to become Strikeforce’s final welterweight champion; not to mention significantly strengthening his bargaining power with the UFC.