There may not have been a lot of “name” fighters on the card (really, there were none), but there was a lot of action. Strikeforce Challengers sixteenth installment – dubbed “Fodor vs. Terry” after their marquee match-up – saw the first female MMA bout under the Zuffa banner, a UFC veteran establish himself as a future force to be reckoned with, a striking prodigy display his genius, and a main event that was both bloody and entertaining. Let’s go straight to the rundown of the night, shall we?
It’s hard to ignore the fact that female MMA – once vibrant and thriving when Gina Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Santos were set to clash – is now withering and dying on the vine. There were stars shining back then, and their gleam lit up Strikeforce’s cage nicely, illuminating an area of combat few wanted to acknowledge. But despite those great heights, there’s the sense that, with Zuffa’s purchase of the organization, the clock is ticking on the division Dana White has repeatedly decried as too shallow to be worthwhile. So it was that Julia Budd and Germaine de Randamie met at Strikeforce Challengers, a grappler and a Dutch striker bearing at least some of the weight of their gender’s future in the sport on their shoulders. How’d they do? Eh, they did alright.
For three rounds, Budd did her best to avoid getting smoked by the superior stand-up fighter, sticking to de Randamie like glue and attempting to work her over on the ground. She was more or less successful in the first two rounds, finding top position to drop punches and attempt an armbar. She was not, however, that successful in the final round, and though Budd did manage to get her opponent down, it was only after absorbing some fists and knees. But two rounds were enough, and when time expired Budd was awarded the unanimous decision.
A takedown clinic. That’s how to describe the fisticuff between UFC and DREAM veteran Jason High and King of the Cage staple Quinn Mulhern. The speed, explosiveness, striking and wrestling advantage all belonged to High, and he used those traits to repeatedly take Mulhern down and bloody him with punches. To his credit, Mulhern was a constant submission threat, making High sweat a couple heelhook attempts and the beginnings of a triangle, and the up-kicks were copious. Still, Mulhern was pretty much a ragdoll that the “Kansas City Bandit” tossed around with relative ease, and when it went to the judges’ scorecards, High took the unanimous decision 30-27 on all three cards.
He may have fell to Chad Griggs in his Strikeforce debut, but that was in a heavyweight slugfest that he took on short notice. This time around, Gian Villante fought more towards his strengths, muscling Lorenz Larkin to the ground and doing his best to pound on him. Sadly, that lasted just one round, and for the next ten minutes of combat he was too gassed to do anything but stand within range and eat Larkin’s artful jabs, hooks and kicks. It was brutal, and to add insult to injury, Larkin took the collegiate wrestler down in the final seconds of Round 3. Larkin took the well-deserved unanimous decision for his efforts.
Sharing a last name with an MMA legend has its perks. For example, in only your third pro fight you get co-main event status, and you get paired up with no-name scrubs as competition. Case in point: Ryan Couture, son of you know who, who was handfed some kid named Matt Ricehouse, Ricehouse undoubtedly plucked out of obscurity to lose on premium cable television. Too bad Ricehouse kicked Couture’s ass.
Though clearly skilled in the submissions department, Couture opted to work his stand-up – a mistake, he soon learned, as Ricehouse slowly began to land more and more as time went on. Then, as fatigue settled in, Couture lost whatever pep he needed to complete takedowns, and Ricehouse simply chipped away at him, pegging him with kicks and punches with an aplomb “The Natural’s” son did not possess. This one went to a decision as well, and Ricehouse took it unanimously.
The awesome thing about a Strikeforce Challengers main event featuring two relative unknowns is that you just know both guys earned their spots with some serious hard fighting. Take Caros Fodor and James Terry. Seriously, who are these guys? I’ve seen them fight a few times now and I still don’t know. But what I do know is that tonight they really threw down. Terry, wielding superior wrestling, found himself perpetually backpedaling thanks to Fodor’s constant forward movement and deadly-accurate punching. Terry kept at it, though, pressing his foe against the cage to hunt for takedowns and going for it – really going for it – until the end. Fodor took the unanimous decision, yet it wasn’t that bad of a showing for Terry. Both came to scrap, and scrap they did.
- Caros Fodor def. James Terry via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Matt Ricehouse def. Ryan Couture via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Lorenz Larkin def. Gian Villante via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jason High def. Quinn Mulhern via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Julia Budd def. Germaine de Randamie via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Derek Brunson def. Jeremy Hamilton via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Eduardo Pamplona def. Jerron Peoples via TKO (Punches) at 2:40 in Round 1
- Trevor Smith def. Keith Berry via technical submission (north-south choke) at 3:02 in Round 2