Strikeforce descended upon San Jose for Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier Saturday night at the HP Pavillion. The card did not disappoint as Daniel Cormier won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and Gilbert Melendez edged Josh Thomson in their rubber match.
Elsewhere on the Showtime card, Rafael “Feijao” Calvacante destroyed opponent Mike Kyle in just thirty-three seconds and Chris Spang knocked out Nah-Shon Burrell.
Cormier Rolls Over Barnett
In the main event of the evening, Daniel Cormier proved that his alternate status meant very little as he showed impressive striking and wrestling to defeat Josh Barnett and win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Barnett had a few moments as he managed to catch Cormier a few times on their feet and he nearly secured a heel hook in the fourth but Cormier was just too much for the former UFC champion and PRIDE veteran.
Cormier used excellent head movement to avoid Barnett’s strikes through out the fight and constantly changed angles in the striking game to batter Barnett with kicks and punches. The former Oklahoma State wrestling standout also used his impressive striking to set up beautiful single leg and high-crotch takedowns through out the fight.
Melendez Edges Thomson in Extremely Close Fight
Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson laid it all on the line in their third fight as Melendez barely edged Thomson to retain the title.
The fight essentially boiled down to a very narrow first round. In that round Thomson got the better of the striking exchanges but was not able to gain a definitive advantage in the round. Melendez did secure two takedowns but was unable to do much with them. The last takedown for Melendez is likely what sealed the round in the judges eyes, since it was the last thing they saw.
The rest of the fight played out with Gilbert Melendez looking strong in rounds two and three before Thomson landed a massive right in the fourth that seemed to change the momentum of the fight. Thomson was much more aggressive for the final two rounds and even came close to finishing with a rear naked choke in the fourth. Thomson also came out strong in the fifth continuing to score with his footsweep/legsweep series that helped him finish out the round on top.
It was not enough to persuade the judges however as Melendez won a split decision that left many clamoring for a fourth fight between the two rivals.
“Feijao” Annihilates Kyle in Redemption Fight
Mike Kyle had long been one of only three men to defeat Rafael “Feijao” Calvacante and it was clearly on Feijao’s mind as he launched into a full assault on Kyle.
While Kyle managed to duck an overhand right, he ducked right into a knee and was sent reeling against the fence. Feijao quickly pounced and nearly finished Kyle by strikes before Kyle got back to his feet only to end up in a devastating standing guillotine choke. Kyle attempted to slam his way out but Calvacante quickly swept him to his back where he was forced to tap.
Spang Batters Burrell
At least one of the Spang brothers came away with a victory this weekend as Chris Spang battered Nah-Shon Burrell cold. Showing a similar aggressive style as his brother Andreas (who lost to Maiquel Falcao at Bellator 69 Friday), Chris was much more effective as was able to knockout Burrell with a constant barrage of punches and knees. While the stoppage looked fast at first, replays showed Burrell to be out before he hit the mat.
Main Card (Showtime)
- Heavyweight Grand Prix Final: Daniel Cormier def. Josh Barnett via unanimous decision (49-46,50-45,50-45)
- Lightweight Title Fight: Gilbert Melendez (c) def. Josh Thomson via Split Decision (48-47,47-48,48-47)
- Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante def. Mike Kyle via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:33 of Round 1
- Chris Spang def. Nah-Shon Burrell via KO (punches and knees) – Round 1, 1:35
Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme)
- Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Gesias Cavalcante via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Guto Inocente def. Virgil Zwicker via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Gian Villante def. Derrick Mehmen via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Quinn Mulhern def. Yuri Villefort via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Bobby Green def. James Terry via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)