Strikeforce returned to action tonight with a pair of title fights on their Showtime aired card. In the main event, Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold retained his title by defeating Tim Kennedy in a five round war. In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley gave it all he had but it was not enough to make up for the experience and skill of the newly crowned Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt.
Elsewhere on the card, both Roger Gracie and Lorenz Larkin were both successful in their middleweight debuts.
Rockhold Retains Belt Over Kennedy
Luke Rockhold was simply bigger, stronger, and faster in this bout against Tim Kennedy. While Kennedy did his best to get the fight to the ground and finish the champ, Rockhold gamely defended the majority of Kennedy’s takedown attempts and stopped Kennedy’s offense if he was taken down. Rockhold used his big reach and height advantage to frustrate Kennedy both against and in the middle of the cage.
Kennedy has now dropped to 0-2 in his quests to achieve Strikeforce gold, while Rockhold has now improved to 10-1 in his MMA career and stays undefeated in Strikeforce.
Marquardt New Strikeforce Welterweight Champion
Nate Marquardt showed his experience and all-round game to put away Tyron Woodley to win the vacant welterweight crown. The two battled it out for four rounds before Marquardt put him down. Woodley showed a lot of promise early and in flashes, but Marquardt’s power, accuracy, skill, and experience put the fighter on his heels. Marquardt would bounce back after a near finish by Woodley in the third to stem what was probably Woodley’s last gasp effort.
After Marquardt gamely survived that attack, the momentum clearly swung and Woodley not only looked tired but disheartened. Marquardt then came out in the fourth and ended the fight with a violent combination that sent Woodley to the mat as Marquardt just walked away knowing Tyron was out.
Gracie Cruises Past Jardine
For the first two rounds of Keith Jardine’s fight with Roger Gracie the only thing that went his way was that he was bleeding so badly Gracie could not find the traction to finish the fight. Gracie looked downright dominant as his ground game was just too much for Jardine. The third round Jardine was finally able to keep the fight standing and he even rocked Gracie early. Gracie showed some guts though and rallied. Using a sloppy, but effective, jab paired with a front kick to keep Jardine at range for the remainder of the round.
Gracie reiterated his commitment to remaining at middleweight, though he did say that he needed to learn how to properly manage the actual cut to prevent cutting too much at the last second.
Larkin Puts on Striking Clinic Against Lawler in Middleweight Debut
After an early scare, Lorenz Larkin bounced back to put on a striking clinic versus the heavy-handed Robbie Lawler. Lawler really never put together enough combinations in the fight, instead relying on wild bombs in occasional flurries. Those flurries were not enough to overcome the various punches, elbows, knees, and kicks that Larkin threw from all angles throughout the fight.
After the win, Larkin got down on both knees and issued a plea to UFC President Dana White to help the Strikeforce fighters get fight night bonuses.
Main Card (Showtime)
- Middleweight Championship Bout: Luke Rockhold def. Tim Kennedy via unanimous decision (49-46,49-46,49-46)
- Welterweight Championship Bout: Nate Marquardt def. Tyron Woodley via TKO (strikes) at 1:39 of round 4
- Roger Gracie def. Keith Jardine via unanimous decision (29-27,30-27,30-26)
- Lorenz Larkin def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)
Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme)
- Pat Healy def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (30-27,29-28,29-28)
- Ryan Couture def. Joe Duarte via split decision (29-28,28-29.29-28)
- Jorge Masvidal def. Justin Wilcox via split decision (28-29,29-28,30-27)
- Jordan Mein def. Tyler Stinson via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)
- Jason High def. Nate Moore via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:26 of Round 1