Heavy.com is coming to you live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas tonight for “Strikeforce: Houston“.
The live main card is set for 10 p.m. ET on Showtime and features several championship tilts. In the main event of the evening, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is set to defend his light heavyweight title for the first time against Brazilian slugger Rafael Cavalcante, while the evening’s co-feature is a battle for the vacant middleweight title between submission ace Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Tim Kennedy.
Rounding out the main card, former EliteXC lightweight champion KJ Noons returns to the cage for the second time in just over two months to face off against exciting brawler Jorge Gurgel, and fast-rising heavyweight Bobby Lashley takes on Chad Griggs to open up the night’s action.
Stick with Heavy MMA beginning at 10 p.m. ET for all the action live from Houston.
Daniel Cormier vs. Jason Riley
Daniel Cormier’s hype train keeps rolling along. The dynamic heavyweight prospect needed just over one minute to dispose of his most recent victim in the final preliminary bout on tonight’s card. Riley and Cormier clinched in the early going, but, when the two fighters separated, Cormier landed several vicious shots that had Riley damaged. Cormier moved in for the kill and forced his opponent to submit to avoid any further punishment. A quick and dominant outing for the rising heavyweight. Cormier def. Riley via submission (strikes) at 1:02 of Round 1.
Andre Galvao vs. Jorge Patino
Galvao’s return to the Strikeforce cage was a bit more difficult than the submission ace likely expected. The world-renowned grappler looked strong early, taking Patino’s back within the first few minutes. However, after being shaken off, it was quite the downslide for Galvao in the first round. Patino landed a nice combination that dropped Galvao, and, when Galvao tried to stand back up, he was immediately put down again with more shots. However, Galvao survived the round and it seemed Patino’s chance at an upset had passed.
Beginning in the early part of the second round, the tables turned and Galvao was able to get the fight to the floor and step out of harm’s way. Patino struggled from the bottom, and Galvao scored points from the top, taking the round rather easily. However, with the fight likely tied at one round apiece, Galvao did not seem content with a decision win.
At the start of the third, Patino came out with a combination that ultimately led to his demise. Galvao managed to take down his off-balance opponent and go to work. He utilized ground and pound, as well as transitions, to continue putting Patino in trouble. Once Galvao moved to the back, Patino was mercilessly rescued by the referee after taking a plethora of strikes. Galvao def. Patino via technical knockout at 2:45 of Round 3.
Bobby Lashley vs. Chad Griggs
Lashley went back to his bread and butter right off the bat in his heavyweight contest against Griggs. The former WWE star immediately took the fight to the ground and moved into side control, peppering his opponent with punches from the top. However, Griggs was not the one looking damaged after the first round. Griggs tagged Lashley with a solid shot that opened up a cut under his left eye. While he may have dropped the first round, he did have Lashley bleeding rather badly.
Lashley did his best to battle through the adversity, opening up the second with a big slam. He immediately began going to work on the floor, transitioning and utilizing ground and pound from the top. He earned the full mount and began pounding away, but Griggs survived, and the fatigued Lashley did not stay active enough to keep the position. The fight was moved back to the feet and Griggs saw his opportunity. After stuffing a desperate takedown attempt by Lashley, the underdog pummeled his opening with hammerfists. Lashley clung to a leg, but continued taking in the shots, resulting in a stoppage at the end of the second round. Griggs def. Lashley via technical knockout at 5:00 of Round 2.
KJ Noons vs. Jorge Gurgel
In the second fight of the night, rising contenders Noons and Gurgel made it clear early that they were willing to slug it out. Noons took the center of the cage with Gurgel circling around. Gurgel moved about quickly, landing several combinations with vicious kicks, while Noons calmly walked forward, utilizing his dominant boxing. However, even though he was struggling against the former EliteXC lightweight champion, Gurgel was willing to stay in the pocket and trade, which was definitely not his best bet. At the very end of the round, Noons and Gurgel exchanged and, immediately following the bell, Noons landed a vicious left hook that floored Gurgel.
When the second round began, Noons could smell the blood and immediately looked for the knockout. He landed a vicious combination that sent Gurgel to the mats again. Noons looked at the referee for a stoppage, but it was not immediately granted. He hit Noons several more times before exiting with a big knee to Gurgel, who was still down on the floor. The official ruling was a technical knockout for Gurgel, but that illegal knee had “disqualification” written all over it. Noons def. Gurgel via technical knockout at 0:19 of Round 2.
Middleweight Championship: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Tim Kennedy
The middleweight title bout opened with a minute of each fighter feeling the other one out, but “Jacare” quickly changed that, landing several big shots to Kennedy in the second minute. Clearly the fast fighter, Souza worked combinations nicely, remaining the aggressor, while Kennedy looked for opportunities to counter. With time running down in the round, Kennedy finally landed a big shot, and Souza fell to the mats from a trip. He worked his way back to the feet and smiled as the round came to a close.
The start of the second was similar to the start of the first, with each fighter still attempting to feel things out. However, each fighter still seemed content in the striking. Kennedy utilized kicks and small combinations, but was still overmatched by the speed of “Jacare”. With one minute remaining, Souza looked for a takedown, but Kennedy stuffed it, and the two went back to the striking match. The round, which was much closer than the first, ended with a front kick and nice right by Souza.
After two rounds of conservative fighting, Kennedy entered the third with a completely different mindset. The military veteran came out throwing his heavy hands and pushing Souza backwards. However, Souza remained confident, landing several combinations of his own, one of which opened up a cut above Kennedy’s left eye. Kennedy remained in the pocket as blood ran down his face, but finally decided to work for a takedown and tripped Souza to the floor. However, Souza quickly worked the fight back to the feet, and the two traded shots in a very technical manner. The round ended, and Kennedy’s cut received some much needed attention.
Following the minute break in which Kennedy’s cut was sealed up momentarily, the two fighters entered the championship rounds. After little action, Kennedy looked to wrap up “Jacare”, but the Brazilian effortlessly broke away from a potential clinch. Souza then shot for a takedown and it appeared he was going to get it, but Kennedy did a fantastic job stopping it. A short while later the fight was stopped momentarily when Souza took a kick to the groin, and each fighter had some time to recover. When the action resumed, Kennedy immediately looked for the takedown, but Souza stuffed it easily, and, once again, the fight remained away from the floor. The action went back-and-forth for the remainder of the round without either fighter landing anything significant.
The final round of the championship bout began with a headkick from Kennedy, as well as a solid flurry, though he failed to land anything significant. Kennedy shot in for a takedown, but failed to earn it, and it appeared as though the striking battle would continue. After a few punches from Kennedy missed, Souza clinched and looked for the trip. Kennedy avoided the takedown, but, moments later, “Jacare” had control of his back. Yet, once again, Kennedy avoided the takedown. In the waning moments of the fight, “Jacare” landed several big shots, but it was Kennedy who ended the fight with a bang. Souza was slammed to the mat in the final seconds, and the two went to the judges’ scorecards after five competitive rounds. Souza def. Kennedy via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47).
Light Heavyweight Championship: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Rafael Cavalcante
Cavalcante was the first fighter to really bring the action in this fight, rushing “King Mo” right out of the gate. However, the Brazilian failed to land anything significant, and Lawal quickly blasted forward with a flurry of his own. When the two fighters clinched, the champion picked up the challenger, slamming Cavalcante to the floor, but the fight quickly worked its way back to the feet. By the midpoint of the round, the pace had slowed considerably, as each fighter continued to feel out his opponent. However, Cavalcante landed several big knees, including one the the head of Lawal. Still, Lawal seemed unfazed and willing to stand and strike, at least for the remainder of the round. The pace slowed once again, and “King Mo” taunted his opponent in a minor way. Cavalcante landed a nice leg kick to make sure that didn’t happen again as the round came to a close.
Cavalcante picked up the second round the same way he ended the first, landing a solid leg kick right off the bat. Lawal pushed forward and looked to put together a strong flurry, but Cavalcante avoided it. After some rather unexciting moments, Cavalcante landed some nice shots, but allowed Lawal to score a takedown. Once again, Cavalcante quickly worked his way back to the feet. Back to the striking game, the challenger lunged forward with strikes, but Lawal evaded, only to come back with several body shots to the midsection of Cavalcante. Lawal finally began to turn it on, attacking Cavalcante, whose back was against the cage. However, the strikes did not seem to affect Cavalcante, but it did appear as though he was fading. But he was not too tired to avoid another takedown attempt as the round came to a close.
The third round began with a bang, as Cavalcante landed a huge right hand that staggered Lawal. “King Mo” smiled, but ate another huge shot, this time in the form of a knee. A damaged Lawal began shifting backwards, and Cavalcante landed a right that floored his opponent. Lawal desperately looked for a takedown and rushed Cavalcante back into the cage after eating several punches. Lawal clung on to a single leg, but Cavalcante reigned down elbows to the side of his head. Referee John McCarthy finally rescued Lawal when his arm dropped and his defenses seemed simply ineffective. With tears in his eyes, Cavalcante raised his arms in victory, earning the Strikeforce light heavyweight title. Very impressive victory for the new champion. Cavalcante def. Lawal via technical knockout at 1:14 of Round 3.