6. Kennedy Wins Easy, Calls Out Lawler
Tim Kennedy isn’t going to get much credit for his win over Melvin Manhoef.
The Bronze Star winner earned a first-round submission win over the Dutch kickboxer who is built like a fire hydrant, but it was a victory many anticipated, so it will get played off in the “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” tradition.
In addition to wasting little time dispatching Manhoef, Kennedy wasted little time in letting everyone know who he’d like to face next either, calling out “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.
After falling short in his bid for the middleweight title last fall, Kennedy wants to fight regularly and work his way back into a title shot, and views Lawler as the fastest path to that destination.
While people will downplay his win over Manhoef, a victory over Lawler would be much harder to overlook.
7. Manhoef a Perfect Example of What’s Hurting Strikeforce
I love watching Manhoef rip into opponents who choose to stand in front of him. His brutalizing of Robbie Lawler‘s legs last January was awesome, right up until the point where he caught Lawler’s fist with his face.
But as much as I enjoy watching him engage in kickboxing matches, this is MMA, and his one-trick act is growing stale and doing more harm than good for Strikeforce.
Like I said above, Kennedy isn’t going to get nearly the credit he deserves for earning a quick submission win Saturday night because it’s Manhoef and that’s what happens; you take him down and submit him. Six of his last seven losses have come that way, five of them in the opening round.
I know there are only so many solid middleweight options out there for Strikeforce, but their lack of depth is partially their own fault; after all, they did let their former middleweight champion just walk out the door.
Instead of running out one-trick ponies like Manhoef against fighters with a few more tricks up their sleeves, they need to be cultivating new talent, giving fresh, young talent more opportunities and putting together fights that give the winner some meaningful momentum.
Beating guys like Manhoef and Matt Lindland doesn’t impress anyone anymore, and it’s not doing Strikeforce any favors either.
8. Masvidal Ends Evangelista’s Unbeaten Streak
Billy Evangelista is no longer undefeated, thanks to Jorge Masvidal and his lengthy jab.
The American Top Team product used his superior reach and overall athleticism to take the opening bout of the broadcast by unanimous decision, putting himself into the lightweight title mix in the process.
It was a solid return performance for Masvidal under the Strikeforce banner, who had won a pair of fights with the organization when they were still primarily a regional show.
In addition to showing off solid boxing and a grappling game that continues to develop, Masvidal showed no signs of fatigue during the 15-minute affair. He’s had issues making weight and picking a division in the past, but he looked like a strong and potentially dangerous addition to the lightweight ranks on this night.
9. See What Happens When Jorge Gurgel Uses His Jiu-Jitsu?
After spending the bulk of his recognized MMA career leaving his jiujitsu skills outside the cage in favor of slugging it out to mediocre results, Gurgel actually used his BJJ on Saturday night.
The result? A 44-second guillotine choke win over Billy Vaughan. While Vaughan was a very late replacement, it’s a quick and impressive finish nonetheless.
Having grown frustrated watching Gurgel refuse to use his immense BJJ skills time-and-again, this result is encouraging.
Hopefully it serves as a wake-up call for Mr. Zoila Frausto, who could actually be a legitimate threat if he would blend his strong submission game with the stand-up he’s focused on so intently over the last three or four years.
10. Pat Miletich is Becoming My Favorite Analyst (And Not Just with Strikeforce)
While there are always going to be moments where the former UFC champion and elite trainer of champions says some things that make me cringe, Miletich is quickly turning into my favorite analyst in the sport.
Why? He’s honest. Imagine that, huh?
When Ranallo and Shamrock were questioning why Masvidal wasn’t taking more chances and pushing for a finish, there was Miletich to flatly remind his cohorts that winning is the most important thing.
When Shamrock said he scored the opening round of the main event for Henderson, Miletich scoffed and said, “You’re from California, so it doesn’t count,” not because he dislikes Californians, but because Shamrock is a brutal homer. At least that’s how I interpreted it. I don’t really know if Miletich likes Californians or not.
He’s still a little static from time-to-time, and I could see him quitting because he’s tired of the other two always talking over him, but in a very short time at the announcer’s table, Miletich has become a pretty damn good analyst and someone I look forward to listening to during a fight.
Now if we could just do something about those other two clowns, Captain Screams-a-lot and The Self-Referential Kid.