Pat Healy picked up arguably the biggest win of his career tonight by choking out the debuting Maximo Blanco in the opening fight of Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov. Healy deftly trapped Blanco's arm after getting a takedown and locked up a beautiful rear naked choke from a strange position. Blanco fought it, but was eventually forced to submit at 4:23 of the second round.
The first round began with Blanco throwing as expected. He threw a leg kick that put Healy on his backside early, and Maxi worked in Healy's half-guard. He didn't get much going before Healy managed to get back to his feet. Healy missed with a lot of strikes, and Blanco responded with a big head kick and a bunch of punches. Blanco managed to get Healy back to the floor, and the action slowed with Maxi in Healy's guard. Healy threw up an unsuccessful armbar attempt. Blanco then threw a flurry of kicks on the ground, which were clearly illegal, and the ref stepped in to break things up. The doctor checked Healy, and he appeared to be okay after a minute or so. Blanco lost a point due to the illegal strike.
With 90 seconds to go in the round, the action continued with both fighters throwing a bunch of strikes. Blanco threw a bunch of crazy stuff and showed off some excellent balance before finally getting taken down. Healy worked from Blanco's back for the last 45 seconds of the round, but didn't get anything going other than a hammerfist or five.
Round two opened up with Healy throwing jabs and Blanco throwing wild rights. Blanco threw a weak spinning backfist, and the fighters exchanged jabs. Healy appeared to momentarily drop Blanco with a jab, but he popped up quickly. Healy took him down immediately and quickly transitioned into a choke attempt that Blanco got out of. It went back to the feet immediately, with Blanco landing a few shots after Healy slipped. Healy continued to grind away however, and took Blanco back down. Healy worked from Blanco's back, landing short shots. Blanco popped up, then got taken right back down, and Healy managed to trap an arm and sink in a rear naked choke. After deliberating for a while, Blanco was forced to tap. Huge performance from Pat Healy tonight.
Healy was a late replacement for Josh Thomson, who had to bow out due to injury. This was Blanco's debut in Strikeforce after a solid run in Japan that saw him become a King of Pancrase and amass a six-fight winning streak before this bout.