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Strikeforce: “Tate vs. Rousey” Commentary

MMAFrenzy’s own Steve Barnes was in attendance on Saturday night at Strikeforce: “Tate vs. Rousey” to help cover the event. While in attendance, he compiled his fight-by-fight notes including observations on the crowd, the fights, the post-fight conference, and more.

Strikeforce bantamweight title fight – Miesha Tate (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

As I said in the podcast preview, that is why you don’t do clinch work with a judoka, especially an Olympic level one. The koshi garuma that led to the ending armbar was gorgeous and that will be the bane of many future opponents.

At the press conference, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker mentioned a dislocated elbow for Tate, but nothing more specific than that. Judging by what we saw in the cage, though, if that’s all the damage, Tate should consider herself a bit fortunate.

Josh Thomson vs. KJ Noons

We can probably assume Josh Thomson is probably the second best lightweight in Strikeforce. He’s probably the best jiujitsu practitioner in the division as well. These two things made this fight kind of come out of the “Bizarro World.” I certainly didn’t expect Josh Thomson to play the wrestling control game with Noons, and I don’t think many other people did either. I understand wanting to play a ground game with KJ Noons. He’s a very good striker, I know, but still. The biggest reason I could guess he played that game was because he was trying to wear Noons out for the third round. And judging by his interview afterwards, he wasn’t real happy. It will be curious to see what he looks like his next time out.

Kazuo Misaki vs. Paul Daley

Oh, what a difference a year and a half makes. Then, Paul Daley was running rampant over guys with his trademark left hook. KO after TKO after KO were running onto his record and he had a title shot with Nick Diaz. Now, though, I don’t want to say he’s a shadow of himself, but he’s not the same fighter. I’m not going to pretend to know what’s in his head or in his training camp but it looks like he’s so gun shy about his wrestling and ground game that he’s overcompensating to the detriment of what got him where he is.

I think this was the first time I’ve ever seen Misaki and I was pretty impressed. He said he was disappointed to not finish the fight, but hey, you can’t finish them all. More interesting, though, was the scoring. Someone in the pressroom mentioned that usually during a fight, one of the fighters will be the stalker, the other will be the stalked but during this fight, they switched several times during the same round. It was a really odd fight to try to score. Paul Daley thought he won (and played the third round like he thought he was winning), and Misaki certainly thought he won. I had it for Misaki, but as I said on Twitter, any combination of scores would not have surprised me.

Lumumba Sayers vs. Scott Smith

I wrote down right as the fight started that “Scott Smith looks soft around the middle.” He didn’t look good and I mean he really didn’t look good. If he’s still in Strikeforce when you read this, it will be a mild surprise. If he’s still in Strikeforce a week after you read this, I will be absolutely stunned. Props to Sayers, he looked good and he did what he had to get a dominant win.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Bristol Marunde

I train in judo and jiujitsu. From that point of view, it really sucks competing against someone who is that much better than you are. It really does. There’s a feeling of helplessness, frustration, and “awe” of feeling the power and speed of someone who is in there basically doing whatever he (or she) wants and the best you can do is defend and try to do your best. That’s what Bristol Marunde did for the first five minutes and he survived. Which is better than I usually do, but that’s beside the point.

From where I was sitting, it looked like in between the first and second rounds Marunde loosened up and good for him. He had nothing to lose. He was coming in to fight a guy who before his last fight was the Strikeforce middleweight champ. Why not, as our British friends would say, go out there and have a go at it? I am giving a huge amount of credit for his job.

Jacare was never really in any danger in that fight but still went out there and did what he does. Good for him.

Preliminary Card:

It was a fun watch. There was a little for everyone. There was the technical submission grappling in Healy/Fodor. There were two guys standing and slugging. There was an awesome women’s fight. And while the crowd was booing at the end, I don’t think it was that they were booing the women, as Mauro Ranallo kind of intimated they were; rather, I believe they were booing that one judge saw the fight as a draw and that was a little interesting, but I can also see why (but for the record, I disagree).

Alexis Davis vs. Sarah Kaufman

Alexis Davis is tough. I mean, really tough. She also doesn’t have any head movement. Both of which meant that she got a special visit by the ring doctor in the furst round for a nasty looking cut over her left eye. Of course, Kaufman came out looking like she had something to prove. Which she did and she should be commended for controlling the fight from the opening bell. It annoyed her that she should have had Rousey’s spot in the main event.

That said, and nothing against Alexis Davis, but Davis is someone that if you’re complaining about not getting a title shot, you should be putting away. To be fair, I typed all that before the third round and wow, I’m not sure what else to say. A better grappler likely could have taken advantage of the way Kaufman left her arms out there. Maybe it was the let down of not having the title shot, but she certainly didn’t look impressive enough to make me complain about it.

Roger Bowling vs. Brandon Saling*

After the crowd was less than pleased with the grappling of the Healy match, they got their red meat with the first round. Both guys were legitimately stunned at points but Bowling showed better ground work to win the round. Bowling is a legitimately interesting welterweight prospect. He’s got solid standing work and it appears he has some good positional grappling skills (haven’t seen much, if anything, about his submission grappling). Keep an eye out. He could challenge what passes for the big boys in Strikeforce’s welterweight division.

Pat Healy vs. Caros Fodor

Solid win for Healy. Fodor showed really good promise on his feet and even showed some reasonably good takedown defense, but it wasn’t enough. Healy kept going for that arm triangle, but couldn’t get his legs free until the end.

This clearly isn’t the end for Fodor; he has a future here. Fodor looks like he just needs reps on the ground. I think he had Jorge Gurgel in his corner (or at least someone who looked a lot like him), so he’s likely in good hands. To be fair, he was going against a crafty veteran who kind of worked him over. We’ve seen that story before, we’ll see it again.

Conor Heun vs. Ryan Couture

Heun looked good in the first round. He looked strong and showed good wrestling, securing a couple big takedowns, but nothing really devastating. I gave him the first round, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have complained at all if a judge had given that to Couture. In fact, all three judges did.

It appeared, though, that Heun tired his arms out going for a big D’arce choke in the second, which ultimately ended his night. Not directly, but he wasn’t the same afterwards.

Ryan did a good job securing a finish.

*Viewers noticed during the fight that Saling was sporting some body art that was neo-Nazi in appearance. Scott Coker said that they did not know prior to the event, but he had been licensed in several states including Ohio.

The official Strikeforce/Zuffa policy on the matter states that offensive body art is prohibited. Coker and Saling (and/or his management) have had a conversation about it and the state of Ohio’s Athletic Commission will be launching a formal investigation into the matter Monday.

[Editor’s note: the tattoos in question were an “88” tattoo and lightning bolts in the style of the Schutzstaffel, or SS, that served as Adolph Hitler’s private military force. The tattoos are common prison tattoos representing Aryan Brotherhood gang. Strikeforce has also asked the commission to review whether or not he had properly documented his criminal record, and standing as a sex offender, on his licensing application. If Saling failed to do so, it could amount to perjury.]



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