Results by Thomas Gerbasi, Strikeforce.com
Spoiler alert: Strikeforce arrived in Illinois Saturday night with one of the most highly-anticipated bouts in organization history, as Dan Henderson met Fedor Emelianenko. Also in action were female stars Miesha Tate and Marloes Coenen as they battled it out for the 135-pound title.
HENDERSON vs. EMELIANENKO
From middleweight to heavyweight, Dan Henderson has fought them all. But probably no win was bigger for the former two division PRIDE champion and current Strikeforce light heavyweight titleholder than his first round knockout win over Fedor Emelianenko Saturday night at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a result that capped off a furious four minutes and 12 seconds that lived up to all the pre-fight hype.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Fedor forever and I respect him so much as a fighter and what he has done for the sport, and for me that (winning) is a huge accomplishment compared to a lot of things that I’ve done in this sport,” said Henderson. “And as a fan of Fedor’s, I hope he keeps fighting.”
“If God will have it for me that’s what we’ll do,” said the 34-year old Emelianenko when asked about retirement following his third consecutive loss.
The crowd was whipped into a frenzy even before the fight started, and it appeared to fire up the combatants, who came out slugging immediately. Both fighters swung for the fences, and Henderson appeared to get the better of the initial exchanges, with a lockup against the cage finally settling the frantic pace down after the first hectic 30 seconds. Emelianenko’s right eye was bruised up at this point, and Henderson controlled matters as he tied up the Russian at close range. With two minutes left, Henderson broke loose with a quick 1-2, and he then looked to counter as Fedor stalked. A wild right caught Henderson and got his attention, and buoyed by his success, “The Last Emperor” kept throwing it, with a right-left dropping “Hendo” to the canvas. Fedor moved in for the finish, but after weathering the initial attack, Henderson reversed position and began firing off his own barrage of strikes, with a right hand to the jaw sending Fedor face first into the mat. After a few more punches, referee Herb Dean intervened, halting the bout at the 4:12 mark.
“I think it was early,” said Emelianenko of the stoppage. “I don’t want to say anything bad about the referee, but it seemed like it was early.”
With the win, Henderson improves to 28-8; Emelianenko falls to 31-4 with 1 NC.
TATE vs. COENEN
Alpha Female. That’s what you can call Miesha “Takedown” Tate after she followed up a training camp with Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male with a fourth round submission win over Marloes Coenen to win the Strikeforce female bantamweight championship.
Coenen was attempting to successfully defend her title for the second time, but Tate’s wrestling and cool under pressure allowed her to turn back the Dutch veteran.
Tate, making no surprise of her gameplan, tied up Coenen immediately to start the bout, and after pushing her to the fence, she attempted some foot stomps in order to soften the champion up. Coenen eventually broke free, nailing Tate with a hard left hook and a knee. Tate sought the takedown and got it, but Coenen locked in a guillotine choke at the same time. Tate looked to be in trouble briefly, but she escaped and got into side control, where she fired off hard strikes as Coenen scrambled in an attempt to get free. Only the bell would allow the Netherlands native to escape though.
The two tied up as soon as the second round commenced, with Coenen resisting the takedown initially. Eventually, the bout went to the mat, and Coenen took Tate’s back. As the champion got her hooks in and looked for a rear naked choke, Tate fought back calmly, refusing to give her neck up. In the final minute, Coenen began firing off strikes, but the game challenger made it out of the round.
Coenen kicked off round three with some effective striking, but Tate was able to catch a kick and take the bout to the canvas. Coenen did a solid job of slowing the pace and keeping Tate from getting her strikes off with any regularity, and with 1:50 remaining, referee John McCarthy restarted the action. Tate, looking winded, was still able to manage a takedown, but again, Coenen’s defense nullified any offense from the challenger, and it was Coenen who swept Tate impressively just before the bell.
The opening minute of round four saw Coenen potshotting Tate, but the challenger didn’t let up, living up to her nickname “Takedown” but getting the bout to the mat again. She worked into side control, while Coenen fired off strikes in an attempt to escape. Tate didn’t let it happen though, and she quickly locked in an arm triangle choke. Coenen attempted to escape, but it was not to be, and she was forced to tap out at 3:03 of the fourth frame.
With the win, Tate improves to 12-2; Coenen falls to 19-5.
KENNEDY vs. LAWLER
Middleweight contender Tim Kennedy put himself back in line for a shot at Strikeforce’s 185-pound title with a grueling three round unanimous decision win over Robbie Lawler.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Kennedy, who improves to 14-3; Lawler falls to 18-8 with 1 NC.
An early feeling out process was interrupted by an inadvertent low kick from Kennedy 90 seconds in, and Lawler easily sidestepped Kennedy’s first takedown attempt. A brief exchange followed, with Lawler’s fast hands in evidence. Midway through the round, Kennedy upped his aggression level in terms of getting the takedown, and he succeeded. Lawler was able to scramble out of trouble though, and the two rose. Another Kennedy takedown followed with a minute left, and in the next 20 seconds he was able to get the mount position. Lawler did power free, making it out of the round.
Lawler continued to make Kennedy work for everything he got in terms of takedowns, and when the US Army veteran was clipped on the bridge of the nose by an uppercut and cut badly, it didn’t help matters. Kennedy kept the heat on once he got the bout to the mat though, and he eagerly traded ground strikes with “Ruthless,” who fired off his own shots from the bottom position, making it a difficult round to score.
Lawler looked to be the fresher of the two as the final round began, but he wasn’t letting his hands go as he stalked Kennedy. A hard uppercut got Kennedy’s attention in the second half of the round, but there was no follow up. For his part, Kennedy pecked away with leg kicks and knees at close range, and in the final minute he secured the round and the fight with a takedown and a ferocious series of ground strikes until the bell sounded.
WOODLEY vs. DALEY
Rising welterweight star Tyron Woodley nullified Paul Daley’s power and used his ground and pound attack to hold off a late comeback from the British banger and score a unanimous decision victory.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Woodley, who improves to 9-0; Daley falls to 27-11-2
Woodley, right hand held high to avoid Daley’s crushing left hook, shot out his jab and stood perilously close to “Semtex.” Soon, the fighters engaged and locked up against the fence, but an inadvertent low knee from Daley brought a halt to the action. When the bout resumed, Woodley used his striking to set up another lock-up, and Daley again avoided the takedown and was able to stall long enough to get referee John McCarthy to restart the action. Freed from the cage, Daley began to let his hands go, but Woodley tied him up briefly to slow his momentum. In the final minute, both fighters again grappled, with both staying busy until the bell.
Daley’s takedown defense continued to impress early in round two, but Woodley finally got him to the mat in the second minute. Woodley smothered the Brit, giving him no chance to breathe while adding in the occasional shots to the head and body. With 20 seconds left in the round, McCarthy restarted the bout and Daley made a late charge, but the bell intervened before he could get his foe into any trouble.
Woodley landed with a nice knee to the head in the early stages of the final round, but when Daley tried to return the favor, “T-Wood” took him back to the mat. The crowd began getting restless, but Woodley didn’t deviate from his gameplan, seeing that while Daley had upped his defensive game, he wasn’t doing enough offensively. With less than two minutes left, Daley escaped and began firing off shots as he sprawled out of Woodley’s takedown attempts, and he even tried to lock up Woodley’s shoulder in the final moments, but he simply ran out of time in his effort to pull off the victory.
SAFFIEDINE vs. SMITH
Welterweight slugger Scott Smith went the distance for the first time since February of 2007 in the main card opener, but he didn’t have the firepower to turn back Belgian prospect Tarec Saffiedine, who issued him a shutout three round decision defeat.
Scores were 30-26 and 30-27 twice.
Smith stalked his foe to start the bout, but the quick-striking Saffiedine kept him at bay with kicks to the legs and effective cage generalship. Two minutes in, the two locked up, with Saffiedine controlling matters from the clinch until breaking away with a quick flurry of punches. The two re-engaged at close range for a spell before referee Scott Fischer broke them, and Saffiedine got back to the business of potshotting his foe, leaving Smith’s face bloodied.
Saffiedine went on the attack even more aggressively in round two, and he continued to tee off on his for with a variety of strikes both upstairs and downstairs. 90 seconds in, Smith got rocked by a shot to the head and staggered backward, but he was able to clear his head quickly. Saffiedine wasn’t about to let up though, and just before the three minute mark, he drilled his opponent again, forcing Smith to look for a takedown. Saffiedine wasn’t going for it, and after landing a few strikes, he took Smith’s back on the mat. Smith escaped and the two rose, but things didn’t get any brighter for him on the feet, as Taffiedine continued to drill him with hard shots until the bell.
Despite Smith’s penchant for miracle comebacks, Saffiedine didn’t let up for a second in round three. Smith, his cuts worsening, gamely chased his foe, but tonight was not going to be his night, as Saffiedine scored one of his most impressive victories to date.
With the win, Saffiedine improves to 11-3; Smith falls to 18-9 with 1 NC.