The Strikeforce “HWGP Semi-Finals” took place earlier tonight at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In the night’s main event, Josh Barnett took on Sergei Kharitonov in a heavyweight grand prix semi-final bout.
In the other semi-final bout, Antonio Silva took on Daniel Cormier.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza put his middleweight title on the line against Luke Rockhold.
King Mo took on Roger Gracie in a light heavyweight match-up.
Maximo Blanco took on Pat Healy in a lightweight bout.
Results and thoughts after the jump.
- Josh Barnett def. Sergei Kharitonov via Submission (Head/Arm Choke) at 4:28 in Round 1
- Daniel Cormier def. Antonio Silva via KO (Punch) at 3:56 in Round 1
- Luke Rockhold def. Ronaldo Souza via Unanimous Decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47)
- Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal def. Roger Gracie via KO (Punches) at 4:33 in Round 1
- Pat Healy def. Maximo Blanco via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:24 of Round 2
- Mike Kyle def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante def. Yoel Romero via KO (Punches) at 4:51 in Round 2
- Jordan Mein def. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos via TKO (Elbows) at 3:18 in Round 3
- Alexis Davis def. Amanda Nunes via TKO (Punches) at 4:53 in Round 2
- Dominique Steele def. Chris Mierzwiak via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Maximo Blanco vs. Pat Healy: We didn’t know a lot about Blanco going into his bout against Healy, but this is what we learned: he strikes like his life depends on it, he strikes often, he’s small for a lightweight, and he views the Unified Rules as mere suggestions. Round 1 had Blanco coming on strong, tagging Healy repeatedly with kicks and punches of varying power. But Healy sweats calm and exudes confidence, and after eating about a half dozen illegal kicks to the face while on the ground (they weren’t hard, and Blanco was of course penalized a point), the Team Quest rep started tossing the Venezuelan to the canvas and smothering him. Round 2 was more of the same, only this time Healy locked Blanco up in a crucifix and slapped on a rear naked choke. Blanco tapped at 4:24 of the round.
Roger Gracie vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal: At first it seemed as if Gracie and King Mo were going to spend the night dancing, because for about four minutes and thirty seconds of their four-minutes thirty-three second bout, they circled, and they circled, and they circled. But the former Strikeforce light-heavyweight top dog suddenly found himself in range, so he threw an overhand right that pegged the taller, lankier Gracie behind the ear. Gracie tumbled to the canvas, and whenKingMotagged him with another fist in the same spot, the Brazilian went stiff as a board. That’s right, folks, a knockout.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Luke Rockhold: Grueling. That’s the best word to describe the middleweight championship bout between title-holder Souza and challenger Rockhold. Ebbing and flowing like a tide, the aggression put forth by each man was constantly shifting, with “Jacare” usually starting the rounds out stronger and Rockhold taking the reins later on. Round 1 saw the Brazilian grappling ace testing his opponent’s takedown defense with some hard attempts against the cage. Those attempts yielded no fruit, though, so what ensued was a stand-up contest that went the five-round distance – a contest that had Rockhold getting rocked a couple times when he walked into Jacare’s fists, but otherwise had him scoring more and more as he threw a much wider variety of techniques (spinning back-kicks, question mark kicks, backfists, etc.). By the time the fifth round came, both men were visibly tired. Still, they fought on, and when the final bell tolled, the judges gave the bout unanimously to Rockhold.
Daniel Cormier vs. Antonio Silva: Hello world, Cormier has arrived. Taking on the more-experienced Bigfoot as a heavy underdog and replacement for Alistair Overeem, the Olympic wrestler eschewed grappling for the ever-improving boxing skills he’s been honing, and he proved the worth of those skills by dropping the Brazilian easily with an overhand right early on. After motioning for Silva to rise, Cormier did it again. Then dumped him to the mat. Then dropped him again with an uppercut – this one resulting in a gigantic Brazilian crashing to the mat senseless. The time of the knockout was 3:56 of Round 1.
Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov: For about thirty seconds, it seemed as if Barnett was going to risk it all by standing and trading with the heavy-handed Kharitonov. But no, the former UFC champ effortlessly switched from striking mode to grappling mode by throwing the Russian down, mounting him and bringing the pain. With Barnett on top, Kharitonov was in deep doo-doo, and no matter what he tried – punching upward, bucking and rolling – he was stuck. Finally, at the 4:28 mark of the first round, Barnett deftly cinched on the head/arm choke for the tap out, making the tournament final match-up Cormier vs. Barnett.