Villasenor, Kennedy victorious at Strikeforce Challengers

Joe Villasenor hadn’t fought in well over a year, so his split-decision victory over Evangelista Santos on Friday night’s Showtime Challengers card in Kent, Washington was pretty sweet.

“That’s a great fight to come back to,” Villasenor said after the fight. “A three-round war. I was really suprised by (Cyborg’s) countering. It turned into a great fight.”

The fight wrapped up another typical Strikeforce card, the kind where the promotion always seems to put on a good show, no matter what the name value is of the fighters involved.

Tim Kennedy has also been away from the sport for over a year. 18 months, to be exact.

But Kennedy had a pretty good reason for not fighting over such a long period of time: he was serving with his Army Ranger unit in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kennedy is an elite Ranger, one of the proudest (and deadliest) units available to United States military commanders, and had served in both fronts of the War on Terror since defeating Elias Rivera on December 29th, 2007 for the International Fight League.

Kennedy defeated Nick “The Goat” Thompson on Friday night when Thompson submitted to strikes. Thompson complained after the fight that Kennedy had been striking him in the back of the head, but Kennedy says it certainly wasn’t intentional.

“You’ve seen my fights. I’m the fairest fighter there is,” Kennedy said. “I was hitting from the side of his head and if I hit him in the back of the head I’m truly sorry. I love to bang and knock people out and I get a lot of crap back home for not winning by submission.”

Fight of the night honors easily go to Jorge Gurgel and Conor Heun. Gurgel, one of the deadliest Brazilian jiu-jitsu players in the world, has reshaped himself into someone who almost exclusively strikes, sometimes at the detriment of his career. Friday night, however, Gurgel was victorious in a three round decision that Mauro Ranallo called “a fight for the ages.”

The most historic moment of the night may have come during the women’s fight between Sarah Kaufman and Shayna Baszler. Kaufman and Baszler had the distinction of being the first women to fight utilizing five minute rounds. Kaufman won a unanimous decision and places herself squarely into contention for the women’s championship that will be decided later this summer.

Strikeforce returns on August 15th for the much-anticipated women’s championship bout between Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

Complete results:

  • Joe Villasenor d. Evangelista Santos
  • Tim Kennedy d. Nick Thompson
  • Jorge Gurgel d. Conor Heun
  • Sarah Kaufman d. Shayna Baszler
  • Luke Rockhold d. Cory Devela
  • Dennis Hallman d. Justin Davis
  • Brian Caraway d. Alex Zuniga
  • Lyle Beerbohm d. Duane Ludwig
  • Landon Showalter d. George Stork
  • Len Bentley d. Marques Daniels
  • Steve Hadsel d. Taylor Roberts

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