The main card of Saturday evenings Strikeforce: Fedor Vs Rogers event served up a number of entertaining and competitive bouts. Lets take a closer look at the main fights of the night.
Antonio Silva Vs Fabricio Werdum
The televised portion of the card began with an all-Brazilian match-up between Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum, and it proved to be an entertaining curtain raiser with both fighters enjoying the upper-hand at times during the three rounds of action.
On paper it looked like Silva had the edge in the stand-up game, and Werdum on the ground and this did appear to be the case in the early rounds . Silva dropped Werdum early in the first after a flurry of punches, and appeared to have him in danger as he followed up with strikes from the top.
Werdum managed to weather the storm however though, and thanks to Silva wisely refusing to engage with him on the ground he managed to survive through to the second round.
Curiously after again knocking Werdum down early in the second, Silva then decided to change tactics and work from the ground. It would prove to be a way for Werdum to get back into the match as he swept Silva and began to display some of the Jui Jitsu skills that earned him 1st place in the ADCC submission wrestling championships recently (99+ category). Though Silva was savvy enough from his back to keep out of any serious danger it would be enough to win Werdum the round.
In the third Fabricio Werdum appeared more confident in his ability to stand with Silva, perhaps due to his opponent slowing down and appearing hesitant on his feet. Now able to close the distance Werdum was able to utilize the Mauy Thai clinch several times in the round, landing knees to the chin of his opponent. One in particular seemed to hurt Silva and gave Werdum the opportunity to take the fight to the ground and finish the round strongly with strikes from the top position.
The fight goes to the judges scorecards and they rightly award Werdum the unanimous decision. Werdum’s record now stands at 13-4-1 whilst Silva suffers the second loss of his career as he moves to 13-2.
Gegard Mousasi Vs Thierry Sokoudjou
Gegard Mousasi was a clear favorite going into this bout, but Sokoudjou proved to be a handful, particularly in the opening round. The early exchanges were fairly even, but things heated up as Sokoudjou displayed his judo credentials, throwing his opponent to the mat, and perhaps worryingly for Mousasi, successfully reversing his own takedown attempt.
At the start of the second round Mousasi was still displaying his trademark relaxed demeanor, and that enhanced the feeling that it was only a matter of time before he found a way to make his mark on this fight. Clinching up against the cage Mousasi began to wear his opponent down with a number of knee strikes to the inside of Sokoudjou’s thighs. He then unleashed a series of strikes, though they appeard to be largely defended by Sokoudjou.
Mousasi now attempts another takedown, but again is reversed by Sokoudjou. He fails to capitalize on the advantageous position however and it becomes evident that Mousasi’s work earlier in the round has helped to take some of the wind from ‘The African Assassin’ sails.
Showing good ground skills Mousasi is able to succesfully sweep his opponent. As has been proven in the past, working from the bottom is not a situation that Sokoudjou relishes, and he appears helpless as Mousasi rains down a relentless barrage of accurate strikes to his head and body, forcing the referee to call an end to the bout.
Mousasi, now 27-2-1, wins by TKO and extends his winning streak to 14, victories while Sokoudjou (7-5) is now 3-2 in his last 5 fights.
Jake Shields Vs Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller
On to the title match, and this one goes very much according to the pre-fight predictions. As expected Jake Shields wants to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible, and appears able to take Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller down at will. Also as predicted, Miller proves to be a crafty competitor from his back and despite a number of submission attempts in the early rounds, he finds a way to emerge unscathed.
Though spending much of the rounds in top position, Shields isn’t offering a great deal offensively and the pro-Miller crowd are quick to show their disapproval. He also isn’t having it all his own way. At times Miller is able to sweep his opponent and gain a dominant position, but often this occurs late in the round leaving him little time to make his mark on the round.
In the third however he does have the best opportunity of the whole fight to end the encounter inside the distance. Taking Shields back late in the round he secures a body triangle and manages to sink in the rear naked choke. It looks deep but there’s only seconds left until the bell. Knowing this Shields somehow finds a way to retain consciousness long enough to makes it to the fourth.
Normal service is resumed in the final rounds and it’s clear that Shields has abandoned any thoughts of submitting Miller and is happy to just ride out the remaining minutes, doing as little as is necessary to claim victory.
The crowd are far from happy, but it proves to be a successful strategy for Shields as he gains a unanimous decision victory and becomes the new Strikeforce middleweight champion. He is now 13 fights unbeaten, 24-4-1 in his career overall. Miller’s record now stands at 22-7(1)
Fedor Emelianenko Vs Brett Rogers.
The atmosphere inside the Sears Centre was electric from the moment Fedor Emelianenko made his entrance to the cage, and the fight itself lived up to the anticipation.
In the first real exchange of the bout Brett Rogers caught Fedor with a jab that appeared to break his nose. It was an early display of the danger of Rogers punching power, and it was not long before he also had Fedor pressed up against the cage for the first time in his career, making use of his weight advantage to keep him in place whilst he delivered some knees to the inside of his legs.
Fedor did manage to break free however and before long had his first chance to get Rogers into relatively unfamiliar territory by taking him to the ground. Again Rogers size and strength would prove to be an advantage however as he managed to power out of a kimura attempt and ended up in top position raining down more blows on Fedor.
Again Fedor escaped and ended the round back in top control, but it was clear that Rogers was going to be no pushover, and was very much in this fight.
In the second round Rogers again tried to utilize the cage to his advantage. He didn’t land anything of any real significance short of a few knees but he was finding a way to subdue one of the pound for pound greats in the history of the sport.
So far things were looking good for Rogers, but as he chose to regroup in the center of the ring that was all about to change. As chants of “U-S-A” emerged from the crowd, Fedor landed a fight-changing overhand right that crashed directly onto Rogers chin, dropping him to the mat. A couple of follow-up punches were all referee John McCarthy needed to see before stepping in to end the fight.
The TKO stoppage was a little early, but perhaps mercifully so. The result hands Rogers the first defeat of his career, now 10-1, but he proved himself to be a worthy opponent who should not be taken lightly. Fedor once again demonstrates his knockout power and extends his unrivaled professional record to 31-1-(1nc).