I returned from a short four day vacation (completely without internet) yesterday to find out that a host of crazy news went down. Between the Nick Diaz situation and Cung Le's move to the UFC it seemed that I had missed a blogger's paradise of big stories. Luckily, it seems like the great staff here at Bloody Elbow covered the hell out of everything.
My return to civilization came just in time to catch the Strikeforce Grand Prix: Barnett vs. Kharitonov event and I'm thrilled that it did. Strikeforce events just feel like they deliver at a higher than normal rate, which may be because we tend to mythologize alternatives to the "big" promotion. Whatever the reason, it's a bit sad to know that Strikeforce is living on borrowed time.
Let's run down the action from last night:
- The -300 to -350 range seemed like it wasn't steep enough for Josh Barnett against Sergei Kharitonov. Kharitonov had been trucked by worse fighters than Josh and seemed like his only real shot at victory was swinging for the fences. He did a decent job of trying to land a big punch early but the Barnett takedown and submission was always the most likely outcome.
- Daniel Cormier is getting really good. He loops his power punches still, but he's quick enough to get away with it against guys like Antonio Silva. Cormier was able to get in and out, land hard and put Silva on the defensive early. He has a pretty advanced understanding of space in the striking game for a guy who is just now starting to learn that aspect.
- The finals are now set up as the American Olympic hero against the three time cheating disgrace, it's a pretty easy story to tell if they want to "go there" but it seems to be the plan to mostly ignore Barnett's past.
- I've been high on Luke Rockhold for a long time but felt that returning from such a long layoff to face Ronaldo Souza was a bad idea. Instead, Rockhold used combinations to simply outwork Jacare over five rounds and capture the Strikeforce middleweight title.
- I scored the fight 4 rounds to 1 for Rockhold. The middle rounds seemed like Jacare fell into a bit of a trap of fighting not to lose instead of fighting to win (to steal an old saying). Jacare's single punch striking was just not enough in my eyes to overtake the more versatile combination attack of the challenger.
- Muhammed Lawal's fight with Roger Gracie was shaping up to be ugly and, to be frank, boring. Thankfully, Mo did a good job of making us forget the rest of the fight by drilling Gracie and ending it in the first. Gracie simply does not look like he likes getting hit and doesn't seem like he'l ever develop into a legitimate high-end mixed martial artist. I'm looking forward to seeing Mo have to deal with someone more dangerous in his next fight.
- Maximo Blanco should have been disqualified for his repeated kicks to the face while on the ground against Pat Healy. It was clearly intentional, repeated and the exact situation where guys should be disqualified. I'm glad that Healy came back to prove that he's simply a better fighter than the massively overrated Blanco, but it's a dangerous situation to let a guy who was clearly hurt by a flurry of illegal strikes continue because he says he can. In that situation a simple point deduction was not enough.