Sarah Kaufman may have felt a bit slighted having her first title defense featured on a Strikeforce Challengers card, but that did not stop the welterweight champion from earning the victory with a dominant finish last night at “Strikeforce: Challengers 9”.
Kaufman faced off against top contender Roxanne Modafferi in the bout prior to the evening’s main event, and the two welterweights wasted little time getting to know each other a bit better in the cage. Modafferi had a successful first round, scoring a takedown, but her chances of winning slowly began to unravel from that point on.
The second round was not a dominant one for Kaufman, but she clearly won it nevertheless. The much crisper stand up fighter, Kaufman controlled the striking game and worked very well against the cage in the clinch. It was clear that Modafferi was beginning to tire from her first round efforts.
Yet, in the third round of the five round fight, Modafferi fought against the growing fatigue, looking for takedowns against her stronger opponent, and pulling guard in the latter moments of the fight, looking for an armbar. Unfortunately, her initiative led to one of the better knockouts in the history of the promotion.
Just as Modafferi appeared to be threatening with a submission, Kaufman lifted her smaller opponent into the air, slamming her with a vicious power bomb that abruptly ended the fight.
In the post fight interview, Kaufman immediately expressed her frustration for being kept off of Strikeforce‘s bigger cards. A finish like the one she had last night should be enough for the promotion’s officials to grant her a spot on a legitimate show in her next title defense, where she will meet Marloes Coenen, her toughest test to date.
Following the incredible finish by Kaufman, two rising heavyweights faced off in the main event of the evening. Shane Del Rosario put his undefeated record (9-0) on the line against Lolohea Mahe.
Mahe struggled from the very start to adjust to Del Rosario’s impressive speed, taking several leg kicks from an opponent that did well to move in and out of range effectively. When the fight went to the clinch, it seemed Mahe could utilize his size to dictate the fight against the cage, but Del Rosario landed a solid knee that ended any hopes of that.
The two separated and it was immediately apparent that Mahe had been affected by the shot. Del Rosario moved in on his opponent, who crumbled to the floor in defeat. Del Rosario is quickly becoming one of Strikeforce’s top prospects in the heavyweight division.
In some of the evening’s earlier action, Bobby Voelker and Cory Devela faced off in an exciting contest. Voelker survived an early onslaught and came back in the second and third rounds, earning a tight split decision victory.
Also on the main card, Mike Kyle and Ron Humphrey went to war in a light heavyweight contest, while Caros Fodor and Thomas Diagne went to work opposite one another at the 155-pound mark. Fodor earned the unanimous decision victory, dominating his inexperienced opponent, while Kyle survived a tough first round to earn a submission victory midway through the second.