Taking stock of last night’s Strikeforce event
1. The 40-Year-Old Champion
After splitting the opening two rounds with defending champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, Dan Henderson clipped the Brazilian’s jaw with his patented right hand early in the third, sending him crashing to the floor. Henderson quickly followed up with a series of punches, and put “Feijao” away to become the new Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
The victory puts Henderson in the company of his Team Quest co-founder Randy Couture as the only men to wear championship gold in a major organization after their 40th birthday, and the achievement should not be downplayed or overlooked.
It is another memorable accomplishment in Henderson’s impressive career, a career that often gets overlooked because of his inability to win gold during his second stint in the UFC. This victory solidifies the long-time star as one of the all-time greats in the sport.
2. The Curse of the Light Heavyweight Belt Lives
Ever since Renato “Babalu” Sobral claimed the 205-pound title from Bobby Southworth, not a single Strikeforce light heavyweight champion has been able to successfully defend the belt. Five men have worn the belt over the past two-and-a-half years, and their first defense has always proven to be the end of their reign.
The curse now shifts to Henderson, who has already beaten Sobral and just crossed Feijao off his list of immediate challengers as well. With former champ Gegard Mousasi already scheduled to meet Mike Kyle later this year, the early money is on the new champion facing Mo Lawal in his own backyard, Dallas, Texas, when the charismatic contender makes his long awaited return in June.
Of the men to recently wear the belt, Henderson stands the best chance of holding onto the gold through at least his initial defense; bad match-ups and inexperience led to the hot potato handling of the belt in 2009 and 2010, but the 13-year vet has the savvy and skills to hang in with anyone Strikeforce puts in front of him, including King Mo.
3. Tougher Than Expected
Not many people were giving Liz Carmouche a chance as a last minute replacement against Strikeforce Women’s 135-pound champion Marloes Coenen. The unheralded newcomer quickly proved them wrong, bringing the fight to Coenen through the first three rounds, sending her stock soaring in the process.
Early in the fourth, however, experience and submission expertise prevailed, as Coenen took advantage of a position mistake by Carmouche to lock in a triangle choke and earn the submission win.
It was a gutty and game effort from both fighters; Carmouche from pushing the champion and establishing herself a legitimate contender on just ten day’s notice, and Coenen for weathering a pair of storms well enough to keep the fight going and get the win when the opportunity was there.
4. Dear Strikeforce Announcing Team…
Stop calling the female fighters “girls” over and over again. They’re not seven-years-old with pigtails in their hair and cute little sundresses on.
They’re women and high performance athletes, and while you might not think there is anything wrong with calling them “girls,” I would imagine there is a large portion of the female population who argue otherwise.
It detracts from what they’re doing in a way that calling male fighters “boys” doesn’t. Boys are supposed to behave in these ways, but “girls” are not.
Time for the announce team to expand their vocabularies, something I never thought I would ask of the verbose Mauro Ranallo in a million years.
5. The Compulsory Judging Comment
There was some debate, both during the broadcast and online, about how to score the second round of the Coenen-Carmouche bout. Some people were handing the challenger a 10-8, while others called those people crazy.
In the above online scenario, the role of “some people” was played by Heavy’s Jeremy Botter, while I was cast as the “other who called him crazy.”
Personally, I don’t see any way in hell that Carmouche earns a 10-8 in the second stanza.
In addition to her attack from the mount consisting of a number of blows that didn’t get through and not a lot of power, she was almost choked out by Coenen earlier in the round. For me, that would mean she had to do so much damage that she not only leveled things out from the standing guillotine attempt, but put a serious hurting on Coenen as well.
Since the champion pretty much bounced right up to her feet, I fail to see how a 10-8 could be awarded. Two-point rounds are for when a fighter does a great deal of damage and comes close to finishing the fight, like Gray Maynard’s opening round assault on Frankie Edgar.
It was a strong second half and a 10-9 round in Carmouche’s favor, but it wasn’t a 10-8.