Below is HeavyMMA’s coverage of the preliminary card of Saturday’s Strikeforce show, which takes place at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The preliminary card featured four fights, all of which aired live on Showtime Extreme for the first time. Those fights led into the main card of Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine, which airs on Showtime as part of the premium cable channel’s free preview weekend, which puts the fights in approximately 70 million homes in the United States.
Check out the prelims coverage below, and then get live coverage of the main card at 10 p.m. Eastern, which features a main event middleweight title fight between champion Luke Rockhold and former UFC light heavyweight Keith Jardine.
Estevan Payan vs. Alonzo Martinez
Round 1: This is a 160-pound catch weight bout. Martinez has fought a ton on the Midwest circuit and is a Bellator vet. He fought eight times in 2011 alone. Martinez opens with a jab, a pair of kicks, then a nice counter knee. Both guys are winging with big shots. Martinez checks a kick, then counters with a big right. Switch kick from Martinez. The pace slows a little bit after 75 seconds, but Martinez lands a nice body shot. Martinez, a former state champ wrestler, shoots for a single, but can’t get it. Payan’s offense has been mostly in the form of counters, but then he comes with a three-punch combo. The two tie up briefly near the fence, and Payan throws Martinez and lands a few shots. Payan left hook nips Martinez. Martinez moves in to clinch, drops down and looks for a double – but Payan defends and gets out. Martinez landed some decent shots, but Payan landed more and seemed in more control. Payan gets the first round, 10-9, on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: A little slower pace to start Round 2 for both fighters. Martinez looks for a leg kick, but Payan counters with a left. Good jab from Payan, then another, and another. Little flurry from bother fighters, but Payan lands a beautiful kick, and Martinez tries to regain some composure by tying up and looking for a level-change takedown. It’s not there, though, and Martinez backs out and looks to regroup. Payan lands another nice jab, follows with a kick, then comes with a right hand. Payan’s boxing looks great, and his hands are nicely up in guard – but Martinez’s hands are dropping frequently, opening his face up to eat those Payan jabs. Big right uppercut from Payan lands, and Martinez is looking really rough in the face. It’s another 10-9 round for Payan on our card, and he’s well in control heading to the third.
Round 3: Martinez will need a finish to win this fight. He comes with some nice kicks to open. But Payan answers with a body shot. Good combos from Payan, and his corner yells to him that Martinez is done and needs to be finished. Big right from Payan as his corner yells for pressure. Head-body-head from Payan, just beautifully. And he just misses a high right kick. Payan stuffs a weak takedown attempt from Martinez and hits him with a right on the exit. Again, Martinez looks for a shot and it’s not there – and Payan throws him off with a shrug. Really no offense for Martinez at this point, but Payan is not able to put him away – even though he is still landing some big jabs and hooks. Body-head from Payan once again. His boxing has been absolutely outstanding. He’ll get another 10-9 round here and should get a 30-27 victory.
RESULT: Estevan Payan def. Alonzo Martinez, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ricky Legere vs. Chris Spang
Round 1: Legere eats a jab, but then catches a kick, moves in, lifts the taller Spang up and slams him. Legere looks for some ground and pound and tries to push Spang to the fence. Spang trying to wall walk, but Legere is able to keep his opponent on his back. Short elbows from Legere, and he then works shots to the body. Legere works out from full guard and gets to half guard, then tries to mount, but it’s not there. Spang gets back to full guard and tries to control Legere’s head. Spang’s good off his back, but he’s not earning any points here with the judges. Finally, he pushes off and gets back to his feet with 45 seconds left. Spang throws a high kick, but Legere pushes in and ties him up and tries to get the fight back to the ground. Spang gets a late guillotine – and Legere looks like he’s ready to tap. But he survives the round. Legere gets the round 10-9 on the Heavy card, but Spang probably has some nice momentum and energy going to Round 2.
Round 2: Flying knee from Spang, but it just misses and Legere uses it to take the fight right back to the ground. Spang ties Legere up from his back, and Legere looks for elbows. Not a ton of great activity going on here, but a nice short elbow from Legere. Spang looks for a triangle and it chases Legere out. But Spang has to fall back into guard. With 2 minutes left, Spang gets what he wants – a standup from the ref. On the feet, he just misses a spinning backfist, and Legere moves in again to look for a takedown. Eventually, he is able to pick the much taller Spang up and carries him across the cage for a slam takedown. The round will finish up along the fence as Legere works for mount, but can’t get it. It’s another 10-9 round for Legere, and he’s up 20-18 on our card going to the last.
Round 3: Spang will have to end this fight, it looks like, to win the fight. And he comes with some nice boxing and a high kick. Spang lands a nice body shot, then an overhand right. Legere throws and lands a nice right, but Spang follows with some body shots. Legere pushes in for a double and gets the takedown. Legere works from guard – nothing major, though, and that leads to a standup from the ref with 2:10 left. Spang immediately starts to throw, and Legere immediately looks to answer with a takedown. Eventually, he gets it. Spang back in guard where he’s been the entire fight. But he pushes out and gets back to the feet. He stuffs a takedown, lands some body shots, manages to take Legere’s back … and latches onto a rear naked choke. It’s not tight enough, though, and Legere is going to survive – and he gets to full mount just before the bell. It’s a 10-9 third for Legere, and he should get the fight 30-27.
Result: Ricky Legere def. Chris Spang, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Gian Villante vs. Trevor Smith
Round 1: Smith throws a kick, Villante pushes in and pushing the takedown away, then landing a knee. Smith throws a body kick on the break. Left hook from Villante is on the button and seems to stun Smith. Then he lands a big straight right, and on the ground starts dropping some big hammerfists. He holds onto Smith’s leg and lands some big bombs. Ref Kim Winslow jumps in to shut it down, and Smith tries to hang on to Villante’s leg as he gets up to celebrate. Nice, quick outing from Villante.
Result: Gian Villante def. Trevor Smith, TKO, 1:05 Round 1
Nah-Shon Burrell vs. James Terry
Round 1: Burrell is nine years younger than Terry. He lands a nice left, then a snapping outside leg kick. Terry gets an overhand right in. Superman punch from Terry, and Burrell counters with a left. Terry shoots for a takedown, but Burrell defends. Terry eventually gets the fight to the ground and looks to tie up Burrell’s legs. Burrell gets up, but Terry gets it right back down – and gets to mount. But Burrell almost effortlessly stands right back up. Terry works around to take Burrell’s back, as Burrell defends. Terry keeps Burrell isolated on the ground, but doesn’t have much offense. Burrell gets up in the last 15 seconds, and he’ll have to go to Round 2 to regroup. Terry gets the round 10-9 on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Big right from Terry, but Burrell lands a clean right counter. Another nice right from Terry leads to a takedown attempt, and after adjusting he gets it and falls into half guard. Burrell briefly has a choke attempt. Burrell gets back to the feet around the 3 minute mark and lands a couple good shots. But Terry answers with some nice boxing of his own – though his hands are down each time he backs away. Burrell winds up on his back again with 30 seconds left. Terry isn’t doing much with it, but Burrell certainly isn’t doing much on the ground from his back. It’s another round for Terry, 10-9, on the Heavy card – though it was a little closer than the first.
Round 3: Burrell probably needs to finish this fight to win. He holds the center of the cage and keeps Terry circling outside. But Burrell lands a nice uppercut, and after a brief tie-up from Terry Burrell lands a nice left on the break. Knee from Burrell lands after a weak takedown attempt from Terry. More big bombs from Burrell, bringing a bunch of offense that is landing. He’s got Terry in some trouble halfway through the round. Kicks and knees and strikes all coming from Burrell. Burrell’s pace slows, but he lands a big right hand. Then a big right uppercut from Burrell. He’s going for all the marbles with some of these shots, and he needs a big finishing shot to win the fight. Terry shoots with 35 seconds left, and pins Burrell on the fence. He gets the takedown, but into a modified guillotine that won’t work. Burrell wins the third on the Heavy card, 10-9, but this should be Terry’s fight, 29-28.
Result: Nah-Shon Burrell def. James Terry, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)