Months in the making, Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg promised an event of monumental proportion.
Just as the event seemingly soared to exuberance, it experienced sudden freefall and numerous treacherous turns as it suffered numerous fighter withdrawals and other unexpected circumstances. In the end, the roller coaster turn of events culminated as a showcase of fine MMA action.
In the pivotal fight for the nascent women’s Mixed Martial Arts, Gina “Conviction” Carano collided with the Brazilian muay thai dynamo, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. In the seminal showdown, Cyborg came out guns blazing, threatening Carano early with a flurry of strikes and leg lock after a takedown. Undeterred, Carano answered with a takedown of her own and demonstrated spirited action on the feet and on the ground. Despite fending off Cyborg’s impetuous pace, Carano ultimately succumbed to the stifling top control and ferocious ground-and-pound from the physically imposing opponent.
In the post-fight press conference, Santos expressed her joy of reaping the fruits of years of hard work that has enabled her the feat of defeating the face of women’s MMA.
The other title bout between light heavyweights, Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Gegard Mousasi was a surprisingly ephemeral affair. Challenger Mousasi continued his blistering streak in his US debut: A 24 year-old Armenian Dutch standout who has made his name in Japanese promotion, DREAM, Mousasi executed an exquisite leg trip and quickly stormed his opponent with ferocious volley of strikes.
In the wake of the newly announced partnership between Strikeforce and DREAM, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated that he hopes Mousasi will spearhead the vigorous exchange of elite fighters between the two promotions. Though the details of the new alliance still remained under wraps, Coker has hinted at the prospect of exciting co-promotional possibilities.
In the interim Lightweight title bout, Gilbert Melendez not only earned the ticket to challenge Josh Thomson for Lightweight title, but avenged one of his two career losses. From the outset, Melendez and Mitsuhiro Ishida sought to set an aggressive pace, eager to pounce on the smallest of an opportunity. Melendez successfully defended Ishida’s vaunted lightening quick takedowns and stymied his opponent with better striking instinct. Melendez’s measured aggression gradually overwhelmed Ishida, as Melendez pounded Ishida out on the ground in the third round.
Elsewhere, Jay Hieron ground out an unanimous decision over The Ultimate Fighter alumni, Jesse Taylor. A late replacement for Nick Diaz, Taylor sought to utilize his wrestling but Hieron countered effectively, demonstrating his own wrestling prowess.
In another main card bout, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stalwart, Fabricio Werdum, earned a quick submission victory over Mike Kyle with guillotine choke in the first round. Werdum weathered early barrage of strikes and arm bar attempt by Kyle to showcase his grappling acumen.