Up, down, and all around. The world of MMA is often a rollercoaster, and that can almost always be said during a Strikeforce card.
I can’t say I remember the last boring Strikeforce card I watched. Every single show, their fighters come to do business, and leave everything on the table. Once again controversial officiating headlines the column however. Questionable decisions, questionable stoppages, and a questionable personality leave many fans scratching their heads.
First off, who let Cecil Peoples referee a Strikeforce card? Widely regarded as one of the worst MMA judges in history, Peoples refereed the Melendez/Kawajiri bout. I was legitimately concerned for Kawajiri’s health, as he took a one sided beat down at the hands of the Lightweight champion. Not to say the stoppage was bad, or incredibly late…but Kawajiri was eating it HARD. Melendez on the other hand looks equipped to battle any lightweight in the world. Melendez and potential matchups in the UFC such as Anthony Pettis, Clay Guida, and Melvin Guillard leave me on the edge of my seat.
On to questionable decisions… Keith Jardine, whom stepped in for an injured Mike Kyle, took a fight with the 30 win, 3 loss Gegard Mousasi on only a week’s notice. Jardine has been largely unimpressive since 2006, not counting split decision victories, and lackluster opponents. Meanwhile Mousasi has torn through every weight division within reach of him, and looked to continue this reign.
Jardine started with takedowns early and often, pegging four of them in the first round, as he was getting handled without issue on the feet. In the aftermath and excitement of one of the aforementioned takedowns, Mousasi delivered an illegal kick to Jardine’s head while on the ground. This allowed the tired Jardine to recuperate, as well as deducted a point from Mousasi’s scorecard. It appeared Mousasi won the round, but a case could certainly be made for Jardine as well.
In the two rounds that followed, Mousasi destroyed Jardine, particularly on the feet, dominating him at will, until an accidental low blows, and mouthguards falling out allowed Jardine yet more recuperation time. I fully believe had those not occurred, Mousasi could have finished Jardine with his superior conditioning. It should be noted however, all three clock stoppages are of Mousasi’s fault. The fight closed with Jardine being taken down and handled.
When the score cards were read, the funny business continued. Mousasi won the fight on one score card, and draws were announced for the remaining two, as Jardine was awarded the first round on those cards. Round scoring, in my opinion, needs to be axed. Not overhauled with “half points” like 10-9.5 rounds, as some suggest. I believe that would be more confusing. Judging needs to be reverted to the PRIDE system of judging an ENTIRE fight. This would eliminate such controversies, and also eliminate strategic lay and pray, and make for more exciting fights. It’s beyond me why this has yet to be instituted. This sport was established to determine superior fighters, not superior strategists.
In the evening’s main event, former UFC star Paul Daley, battled the Strikeforce Welterweight champion Nick Diaz. I’ve been very outspoken about Diaz (and his whole camp, besides Melendez) in the past, and I’ll continue to do so. His actions in the cage, I have no room to scrutinize, as he picks up victories by the boatload. However, in the days leading up to the fight, Diaz was very difficult to deal with in the media, and trashed the Strikeforce title, disrespecting the championship, and therefore the promotion. I had high hopes for Diaz, after the respect he showed his last opponent, Cyborg Santos, yet all was for naught.
Diaz came out immediately mocking Daley, and why the excellent striker in Daley didn’t attack, I have no idea. A back and forth stand up war ensued, with Diaz landing significantly more shots. Diaz worked to get the challenger’s back against cage, where his reach advantage could be utilized. When Daley landed, it was typically with stiff shots, stopping Diaz’s flurries. It appeared as if one of Daley’s deadly hooks knocked the champion out cold, however Diaz recovered after a few shots on the ground.
One exchange later, it appeared as if Daley had the upper hand, however he inexplicably buckled, fell to the ground, and was chased down by Diaz. With four seconds remaining in the first round, Big John McCarthy made a questionable call in stopping the bout. It appeared to me that Daley was defending with his legs just as well as he could. Diaz with a great reach was still able to land shots over top of him, but it didn’t seem to me like a proper stoppage. I will be the first to say my journalistic non-bias is completely out the window on this call.
With all of these situations coming into question, Strikeforce still delivered yet ANOTHER outstanding and exciting card. Essentially all of these cards are now auditions for the UFC, and people like Diaz, Daley, and Josh Barnett, whom have ticked off the UFC’s brass, are now fighting for their own future. I wonder if Diaz will still be calling GSP out if it’s actually a realistic fight now, so far he’s been tight lipped, with the exception of the occasional pissy interview. For his sake, I wish the best for him, because he’s an excellent fighter, but if he butts heads with Dana White and the Fertita’s, I wouldn’t look forward to seeing him on Pay Per Views.
That’s it for now folks.
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