A Strikeforce Challengers event is like the light beer of MMA shows, in that they often taste great but are much less filling. So it was with Strikeforce Challengers 17, which saw s light-heavyweight raping, a compelling 135-pound female bout, and a rubber match between to guys who seriously have no surprises left for each other. Yes, it tasted great, and no, I did not feel “full” afterwards. But don’t take my word for it. Judge for yourself.
I was there back in 2003 when Ron Stallings made his debut, in a bout that saw him put to sleep with a guillotine choke courtesy of Philippe Nover (who was making his debut as well). But eight years have passed, and time has made the “Choirboy” much more skilled and experienced. How did he fare against Chechnyan middleweight Adlan Amagov? Well, in the first round he did a good job attacking Amagov’s fists with his face – a stratagem he employed masterfully when he wasn’t absorbing kicks to his thighs and body. Stallings ratcheted up the aggression in the second frame, though, which resulted in him getting tossed twice yet forced his foe to expend energy. Thus, it was a visibly tired Amagov that came out for Round 3, and Stallings took advantage with some dominant grappling from top position. Despite the late rally, the “W” went to Amagov by virtue of a split decision.
Like a female version of Gray Maynard, Liz Carmouche is the kind of fighter that bullies people around the cage until they break. Unfortunately for her, ex-champ Sarah Kaufman breaks as easily as granite, and punches about as hard – which translated into a first round that began with Carmouche pressing her against the cage and ended with Carmouche getting her head knocked back repeatedly. Kaufman’s far superior boxing reigned supreme in the second, and it was a bloodied and desperate Carmouche that came out in Round 3, looking to avoid a gunfight by hunting for takedowns that never materialized. Time expired with Kaufman chipping away at Carmouche with her fists, and there was no question that Kaufman had done more than enough to merit the unanimous decision.
When late-replacement Joe Cason wasn’t walking into the light-heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux’s fists, he was walking into Saint Preux’s knee, and not long after he was on his side on the ground and struggling to weather a storm of punches from above. No dice, though, and realizing his situation was untenable, the overmatched Cason tapped out at just 1:12 into the first round.
Heavyweight Devin Cole’s best days were in the IFL – which isn’t saying much, as he only did okay in that league. With that in mind, it’s not hard to believe that newcomer Shawn Jordan (like Cason, also a late-replacement) was able to give him fits in terms of grappling and boxing in the opening round. But although he nearly succumbed to a rear naked choke and ate more than a little leather, Cole made the necessary adjustments by the time the second frame rolled around, and he turned the round into a wrestling match that he won handily. It was more of the same in the final round, and Cole cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
He may have lost their last meeting via TKO, but it was an explosive and aggressive Roger Bowling that seemed to be scoring the most in the first round of their third meeting. Moving in and out of range like a raging orangutan, it was tag and tag again to Bobby Voelker’s head and body, and it looked as if Bowling was moving at speeds beyond what Voelker was capable of. Round 2 played out in similar fashion – this time with Bowling mixing in takedowns – and then BAM! Voelker nailed him with a knee to the head that made Bowling do the “Funky Chicken”. The subsequent swarm of unbridled punches prompted the referee to step in, and once again Voelker was the winner by technical knockout.
- Bobby Voelker def. Roger Bowling via TKO (Strikes) at 2:16 in Round 2
- Devin Cole def. Shawn Jordan via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
- Ovince St. Preux def. Joe Cason via Submission (Strikes) at 1:12 in Round 1
- Sarah Kaufman def. Liz Carmouche via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Adlan Amagov def. Ron Stallings via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- T.J. Cook def. Lionel Lanham via TKO (punches) at 4:59 in Round 1
- Anthony Smith def. Ben Lagman via Knockout at 0:33 in Round 2
- Bill Cooper def. Maka Watson via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 2:39 in Round 2
- Sterling Ford def. Brian McLaughlin via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)