Last night Strikeforce held its final event with a stacked card of their most notable fighters. The evening was started out off as a representative of MMA’s royal family Roger Gracie faced off against Anthony Smith in a middleweight affair.
The first round was all Smith striking and avoiding getting taken down by Gracie. Once Gracie got the fight to the ground about two minutes into the second round it was the beginning of the end as Gracie who trains with the Blackhouse gym in Brazil masterfully moved from position to position till he had the mount. Gracie delivered one short elbow from the top that split open Smith’s head before he locked in the arm triangle and maneuvered to the side giving Smith no option but to tap or go to sleep. Smith taps at 3:16 of round two to end the first fight.
Was to be lightweight title challenger Pat “Bam Bam” Healy versus Gilbert Milendez tonight but the Strikeforce 155 champ had to pull out due to an injury. Healy ended up taking home the unanimous decision ( 29-28, 30-27×2) versus a very game short notice opponent in Kurt Holobaugh.
Holobaugh, a true 145er, stepped up in weight for this match. Holobaugh right out the gate showed he had nothing to lose and was looking to swing for the fences. The fight started off with the two men just trading big punches. Healy got the first take down 2 minutes into the fight and would spend most of the fight glued to Holobaugh never giving him any space. Holobaugh never gave up though; constantly threatening one submission after another and defending against a some deep spots Healy had him in. Overall good fight from the two Healy showed he is that grinder that was next up for a shot at the champ. Holobaugh with the loss moves to 9-1 now with 8 submission victories and should be a very fun fighter to watch in the featherweight division hopefully for the UFC.
Trevor Smith faced off against former training partner, two-time title challenger and US Green Beret Tim Kennedy in the next match.
Smith from the beginning wanted to put Kennedy on his back and worked hard at it going for ten take downs over the course of the fight. Kennedy did a good job at defending most of them either via sprawl, some nice one legged balancing or knees to the body and uppercuts to the head as he came in. On the occasions Kennedy did get taken down he was pounding away from the bottom and quickly working his way back to his feet. Beginning of the third round Smith was clearly gassed he tried to stand and trade with Kennedy for about the first minute of round three but then shot in for a single and left his neck out for Kennedy to latch on to. Kennedy pulled the left elbow up high and sank the choke in. Smith tapped to the guillotine at 1:36 of round number three.
In the final prelim match up the boxing veteran KJ Noons met up against the son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, Ryan Couture.
The 5-1 Ryan Couture has grown into a well rounded fighter before our eyes under the Strikeforce banner over the last few years. While KJ Noons picked his shots carefully in round one Couture stayed busy mixing up his stances and punches. Couture worked the wide variety of kicks. Noons with nice counter straight and Couture mixes with a head kick but lands a heel kick immediately after to the chest that sends Noons against the fence Noons springs off the fence and lands a short left that drops Couture and he swarms forward to go for the kill as the horn sounds. In the second round they are warmed up and taking turns going for the kill Noons gets busted open with an accidental head butt then Noons gets dropped by a short left. Couture comes forward and gets rocked by a series of shots from Noons. Couture spends the next minute circling and covering up but never goes down. Couture clears the cobb webbs and is able to hurt Noons with a knee. What an insane round and trade of striking. The fans are on their feet going nuts for these two at the end of the second round. In the third round it was Couture pressing the action coming forward with the punches and kicks to send close fight great fight to the judges for a decision. Ryan Couture takes home the split decision 29-28, 27-30, 29-28.
On a side personal note thank you to, It Ain’t Chemo, a non-profit group that provides support and comfort items for those that are going through and have went through cancer treatment. Ryan Couture is one of their board members and active with the group that helped me to get courage to take control of my life back.