Rundown of post-fight news and notes from Strikeforce “Houston”…
Feijao wouldn’t be champion without loss to Kyle
New Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante revealed his strategy after the fight.
“My strategy was to block his takedowns in the first and second rounds, because I knew he was going to get tired, and that’s what I did… I hit him hard with the right hand and with the knee, I saw in his eyes that he looked a little dizzy. I saw he was hurt, so I just kept hitting him and waited for the referee to stop it.”
Feijao later said the loss to Mike Kyle helped him become a champion.
“If I didn’t go through all of that I would not be the man I am today,” said Cavalcante. “Everything I have gone through, the journey, it has made me the champion.”
“I want to be like the Nogueira’s and Anderson Silva,” declared Cavalcante, “I think they are champions because they are not just good fighters in the Octagon or the cage, but because they are good people.”
King Mo didn’t have much to say following the show. He conceded defeat and vowed to come back stronger than before.
“He fought a hell of a fight, but I’ll come back stronger. This is how true champions get better.”
Some think King Mo losing is a bad thing for Strikeforce. I understand their point, but I don’t really see it that way. It opens up the division and allows Gegard Mousasi and Babalu Sobral back in the mix, so now you have Dan Henderson, Mousasi, Babalu and eventually King Mo in the title hunt instead of just Hendo.
Tim Kennedy hopes for rematch after close fight with Jacare
Even though the fight was close, new Strikeforce middleweight champ Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza thought the visible damage on Tim Kennedy’s face was proof that he was winning the fight.
“I felt throughout the fight that he felt my hands and that I connected with some punches,” said Souza through his translator. “I could see that I was getting some punches in and I was sure that I was winning the fight….I just looked at his face.”
“I was surprised how strong Tim Kennedy was and I had a hard time taking him down and then I kept this fight up,” said Jacare.
Tim Kennedy made it clear after the fight that he wants a rematch.
“I want to go another five rounds,” Kennedy said in the post-fight press conference. “When I was in the back and the doc was stitching me up I said, ‘Make sure they’re tight because I want to get back in there in the next couple of months.’ I want another five rounds with that guy.”
And he may have a case. According to FightMetric, Jacare was more effective, but under the ten-point must system, the fight should have been called a 48-48 draw. Of course, FightMetric isn’t perfect, and you could certainly make case that Jacare deserved to win, but that’s one stat Kennedy can point to when calling for a rematch.
Scott Coker told Ariel Helwani a middleweight tournament is still possible but “all the stars have to align perfectly” for it to work out. Judging by the tone of his voice, it doesn’t sound promising.
KJ Noons: Dirty fighter?
Jorge Gurgel refused to blame KJ Noons for the shot that put him down as the first round bell sounded or the illegal knee that ended the fight.
“I apparently got hit a couple times when the round was up, but it was definitely not K.J.’s fault,” Gurgel said. “It’s usually the referee’s fault. He has to stop it.
“K.J. absolutely is not to blame for it,” said Gurgel, who also showed some sportsmanship at Friday’s weigh-ins when Noons missed weight by a half pound before quickly being excused by his opponent. “But I was on queer street. I didn’t know where my corner man was. That’s the first time that’s ever happened. That definitely made a little bit of difference in the second round.”
“People are biased,” said Gurgel, who thinks the knee was accidental and simply a heat-of-the-moment mistake. “People like me, and they like my career, so they’re biased. But all I have to say is that it’s not K.J. Noons’ fault. His job is there to fight until the referee pulls him off. I would have done the same thing.”
Noons echoed Gurgel’s sentiments. He doesn’t think he’s a dirty fighter.
“By any means, am I a dirty fighter?” Noons asked no one in particular. “No. I was just going in there to try to engage and get the round. I was in the heat of the moment, and I couldn’t stop my hands from going. It wasn’t cheap, and I’m not trying to be dirty. I’m just trying to finish the fight.
“I didn’t intentionally do it. It was just the rush.”
Scott Coker later told Ariel Helwani that Noons was ready for a title shot, but wasn’t sure if it would come against lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. He noted that Noons had a little trouble making weight and would talk to Noons and his management about KJ possibly moving up to welterweight to challenge Nick Diaz for the title. He thinks Noons-Diaz 2 is one of the biggest fights they can put together. I agree, I really want to see that fight, but giving him a title shot in a different weight class for beating Conor Heun and Jorge Gurgel is ridiculous. Guess we should be used to unearned title shots by now though.
Bobby Lashley has some “soul searching to do”
Chad Griggs is one of the very few people who thought referee Jon Schorle didn’t screw up last night when he failed to restart the fight on the ground with Bobby Lashley in full mount.
So was the restart in the standing positing warranted?
“A couple of people have asked me that, and yeah, I think it was,” he said. “I know he was bleeding. He was bleeding all over me. It wasn’t getting in my face and my eyes.
“I think Bobby was OK with it too. It took like – it seemed like forever – for him to get off my leg when they did pull him off to get him to go check [the cut]. I think he was tired and hurt already. I think it was a good call.”
“Initially, he was working pretty hard, and then I think he slowed way down toward the end,” he said. “I caught him with some hammerfists, and he slowed way down. … So no, I didn’t expect him to put us back down in the mount position.
Griggs noted that Lashley didn’t like getting hit.
“Once he got cut and I landed a couple good punches, I could see it in his eyes that he didn’t like it. I don’t think he’s really been hit or tested before. When he felt that, I could tell the whole momentum was like, ‘OK, I’m not having fun anymore.'”
He felt Lashley burning off his energy in the first so he just tried to stay calm and weather the storm.
“I actually felt him starting to fade a bit at the end of the first round,” he said. “I could hear him breathing really hard. I could feel him using a lot of muscle trying to land punches. He was burning a lot of energy, so I was comfortable down there because he wasn’t actually catching me. He threw a lot of punches, and only a couple them landed. It was a good tradeoff because he burning a lot of energy.”
Scott Coker told Ariel Helwani that Bobby Lashley’s “true test happened tonight” and now he has some “soul searching to do.” Assuming Lashley still wants to fight, Coker is still very interested in booking him against Dave Batista if they sign him.
Bobby Lashley left the Toyota Center on a stretcher last night and was taken to an area hospital for severe dehydration. Lashley was pumped full of liquids intravenously and released shortly thereafter.
Miscellaneous news & notes
— A total of 8,635 showed up at the Toyota Center to watch the fights in person. Scott Coker credited former Houston resident KJ Noons for bringing out the crowd.
“K.J. really brought them in,” said Coker, who didn’t rule out a return visit to Texas. “You heard them cheering. … I think he could be the Cung Le of Houston out here.”
— Not one fighter on the Strikeforce “Houston” card was tested for performance enhancing drugs. It turns out the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (athletic commission) does not require drug testing for combat sports.
“Our rules were and still are that we do not require drug testing (for combat sports),” a TDLR spokesperson told MMAjunkie.com at the time. “If there is a good cause, our executive director can order a drug screen at any time, and if this does happen, the drug screen is performed and the contestant is responsible for paying for the cost of the drug screen.”
As the UFC has done in the past, promotions can officially request to have their fighters screened, but Strikeforce confirmed they did not.
Between the shoddy officiating and lack of drug testing, the TDLR really dropped the ball last night. Of course, after Strikeforce implemented their own drug testing for their “Heavy Artillery” show last May, you would think they would have taken whatever steps were necessary to ensure the state of Texas tested their fighters in Houston. Shame on them both.
— Strikeforce officially announced that Nick Diaz will fight on their October show. Additionally, Sarah Kaufman gets her wish and defends her title against Marloes Coenen on a major Strikeforce card. A middleweight fight between Matt Lindland and Luke Rockhold was also announced. SI.com’s Josh Gross has more.
Diaz won’t fight Jason “Mayhem” Miller, but a bout against Noons or a title defense versus Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos is possible. Noons less so because the Diaz camp isn’t willing, apparently, to do him any favors — payback from their EliteXC days when Noons declined Diaz a rematch after beating him in 2006. Also rumored but as of yet unconfirmed: Dan Henderson vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Josh Thomson vs. Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante. Also, Tyron Woodley is expected to graduate from the Challengers series, and could fight Andre Galvao, who won a unanimous decision on Saturday’s undercard.
The card goes down on Oct. 9 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. and will air on Showtime.
— An ecstatic Jay Hieron tweeted yesterday that he was “finally” granted his release from Strikeforce. That’s not entirely accurate though says Scott Coker. While he acknowledges that Hieron’s contract is up, Coker says they still have the rights to match any offers Hieron receives from other promotions, and they’re at least interested in talking about continuing their relationship with him. Considering how they’ve treated him thus far though, and how Hieron reacted on Twitter, it’s probably safe to say he won’t be re-signing with Strikeforce. It just might take a little longer for him to sign somewhere else.
— In the post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani, Scott Coker strongly hinted that Brock Lesnar’s good friend and former WWE manager Paul Heyman may be joining Strikeforce in some official capacity that he wasn’t willing to share, and it could happen sooner rather than later. Heyman has been linked to Strikeforce in the past when he was part of an investment group that included former K-1 and PRIDE producers who planned to purchase Strikeforce from Scott Coker. Heyman backed out of the deal though when one of their key financial guys tried to change the terms of the deal at the last-minute that would have essentially screwed Coker out of his company. Heyman wasn’t interested in ripping anyone off and decided to move on. Heyman was also approached by the IFL and YAMMA in the past, but wisely passed. Coker says an announcement will probably come in a couple weeks.
— Last but not least, when asked what he thought about all the upsets last night, UFC president Dana White, never one to miss an opportunity to bash Showtime, said it was “karma coming back on shittime sports.”