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 StrikeForce Review - Mike Garrett - SEF Exclusive

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PostSubject: StrikeForce Review - Mike Garrett - SEF Exclusive   Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:24 pm

Strikeforce Satisfies St. Louis at Scottrade on Saturday



Showtime’s Strikeforce series came to town on Saturday and put on a MMA card that will not be forgotten anytime soon. A stacked card was put together and MMA royalty was in the house for four hours of solid action.




Many questioned whether St. Louis could support a major MMA promotion like Strikeforce but the locals did not disappoint. A turnout of 8,000+ was announced and the Scottrade Center appeared nearly soldout. The only negative of the night was the first impression of the event. Scottrade officials, for reasons unknown, decided metal detectors were needed and this created a major bottleneck at all arena entrances. SEF has been to two UFC events, along with one EliteXC show, and metal detectors were not present at any of these events. Staffing at the entrances was inadequate and waits of nearly one hour were reported. SEF arrived at the main entrance at 6:15p (doors opened at 6:30p) and was not seated until 6:55p. The first two fights were missed which is absolutely unacceptable.



Sightlines from nearly all seats were excellent and the event organizers were smart to price tickets in a very reasonable range. SEF was only six rows up on the risers where tickets were only $50 a pop. These same seats to a UFC event would’ve run $500 or more.



The first full undercard bout witnessed was former Mizzou All American wrestler Tyron Woodley. Woodley controlled the action throughout and finished Sal Woods with a head-and-arm near the end of the first round.



Local James Wade, of Grappling Concepts in St. Peters, took on Booker DeRousse from Jefferson County in the next bout. DeRousse was clearly the bigger fighter and also demonstrated superior striking skills. Wade, a decorated jiujitsu player, chose not to use his ground game and instead chose to bang with Booker which turned out to be a poor strategy. James has a granite chin but DeRousse was just too much before the fight was called at 4:06 of round one.



The fifth fight of the undercard featured kickboxing specialist Mike Kyle versus the highly rated Brazilian Rafael ‘Feijao’ Calvalcante. Feijao was originally slated to face Babalu Sobral until a schedule change. The last minute replacement of opponents appeared to have an impact in Calvalcante’s motivation because he seemed flat in this bout despite having UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva trying to fire him up in his corner between rounds. Kyle continued his striking assault before finally dropping Rafael with a brutal blow. STL’s own Mike England was reffing the bout and he appeared to be frozen in place once Calvalcante went down. Kyle land three vicious shots to the head of the fallen Feijao before England finally jumped in. The slow stoppage resulted in the beaten fighter laying motionless in the cage for several minutes before finally showing signs of life. Feijao appeared okay as he was helped out by Silva and Antonio Nogiuera.



The undercard was capped off by local product Jesse Finney. The ring announcer, the same clown who’s been questioned in the past for his unprofessionalism (think Engle fight), brought Finney in the cage as if he was a Strikeforce champion and featured attraction. The opponent, Josh Bumgarner, definitely had a name to match his skill set. He walked out to Culture Club’s “Do you Really Want to Hurt Me” and many wondered if Bumgarner was sincere in his choice of entrance music. Josh offered little resistance and Finney simply bullied him around the cage for a couple minutes in what proved to be one of the most one sided mismatches of the evening. Once again St. Louis fans were left wondering if Finney is simply that good or his opponents are that bad. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.



After starting the undercard at 6:45pm, the six bouts were concluded by 8:15p and many in the crowd were left scratching their heads about the reason for the extended delay (the telecast wasn’t scheduled to start until 9:00pm). Given that most of the crowd wasn’t seated until nearly 7:30p due to the fiasco at the entrances, their unhappiness was most justified.



Once the main event started the energy level quickly escalated though some of these bouts were less than thrilling. On paper, each bout featured fighters with significant MMA history though many appeared to have had their better days pass them by.



The broadcast started with UFC vet Kevin Randleman squaring off against The Ultimate Fighter season two alum, and IFL veteran, Mike Whitehead. Both were former heavyweights and the weight cutting that was required to make the light heavy max of 205lbs was apparent as both gassed early in the fight. After putting on a ferocious pre-fight show of snarling and jumping up and down, Randleman did little else for the rest of the fifteen minutes. It was one takedown after another by Whitehead who pretty much laid and prayed his way to a three round decision.



The next bout featured the so-called “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni. The crowd was definitely pro Baroni but they were quickly silenced when Joe “Diesel” Riggs played a real life game of cat tossing mouse throughout the bout. Baroni offered virtually no offense and appeared to be using the strategy of “lead with your head and break his hands”. UFC alum Mark Coleman was observed cornering both Randleman and Baroni which begs the question…do they do ANY cardio work at Hammer House? The New York (not so) Bad Ass was gassed before the end of round one and continued to absorb some brutal blows until the final bell sounded. Two of the three official scores were 30-26 which isn’t easy to accomplish in MMA when you consider Baroni was never dropped cleanly by any single blow.



The third fight of the undercard started with Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith entering the ring against the crafty Nick Diaz. Readers might recall watching Smith take an unimaginable beating from Benji Radach before landing a home run for the late win this past April. Scott was quoted after the fight saying he “felt like he was in a plane crash”. This left many wondering how a fighter, who absorbed a lifetime’s worth of blows in one night, could be back in the cage about sixty days later. Had the Smith/Radach fight been in Nevada, Scott almost certainly would have been put on a two month medical suspension. It makes one wonder if the Missouri officials were aware of this bout with Radach. Well, the logical series of events played out. Smith quickly gassed and proceeded to act as a human magnet for Diaz’ nonstop series of blows. After the second round many in the crowd were heard calling for the towel. It never came but the end did about a minute into round three when Diaz landed a crushing left hook to the liver. Let’s hope Smith gets some time to heal before taking his next fight.



The co-feature was former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski taking on the heavy handed, undefeated (and unproven) Brett Rogers. Arlovski is known for having a glass jaw and he didn’t disappoint. He, literally, went down on the first punch Rogers landed and it was all over in less than thirty seconds. Some in the crowd booed but they must not have seen Andrei go limper than a noodle after Rogers followed the initial blow with two more prior to Big John stepping in.



The main event was held at a catchweight of 182 pounds between Granite City’s own “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and Gracie BJJ black belt round wizard Jake Shields. Going into this bout both Lawler and Shield had been on long winning streaks and the bout was nearly a “pick em” at the Vegas betting windows. Many speculated that if the fight stayed standing it’s Lawler’s and if it hit the mat then Shields had a decisive advantage. Early in the bout Shields attempted a couple takedowns, which Lawler stuffed, before exchanging some strikes in the center of the cage. They went to the clinch where Shields slapped on a guillotine and held on before Ruthless tapped out only two minutes into the fight.



There was speculation that Strikeforce has already signed to return to The Lou so let’s hope we’ll be treated to another card that’s as loaded with talent. I’d like to be the first to suggest a Jesse Finney vs local jiujitsu fighter Steve Berger welterweight bout for that show. Both have history with Strikeforce and it’s a classic striker versus grappler match. Both would sell ample tickets, given their followings, and it’s rumored they don’t exchange Christmas cards. How perfect would that be? STL can only hope that another card as good as this one can be put together for the follow-up. You can bet your hat SEF will be there to cover each and every installment of future Strikeforce shows given the enjoyment level of their inaugural event in the Gateway City. [/size]
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