July 14, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Luke Rockhold (blue shorts) fights Tim Kennedy (white shorts) for the middleweight title at MMA Strikeforce at the Rose Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE
Another Strikeforce event is in the books and the Middleweight Championship has been retained by Luke Rockhold in a very fun card overall. While it is impossible to ignore the "dead man walking" feeling of every Strikeforce event as it plods towards its ultimate demise and absorption into the UFC, they can still put on a decent show.
The match making normally results in fun fights and there is enough talent to make a main card for most of these events that is defiantly worth watching. That said, Lorenz Larkin's plea for fighter bonuses should tell us something about the finical situation of the fighters in Strikeforce. At best a Strikeforce fighter gets a fight every six months and Tim Kennedy has commented that now that Strikeforce is so reduced sponsors want nothing to do with Strikeforce fighters. So Strikeforce fighters are not making much each fight, not fighting much and getting only slightly better than regional event exposure when they do fight. For these fighters the merger with the UFC can't happen fast enough because as it stands they are trapped in MMA limbo.
It seems likely that everyone the UFC is interested in brining over from Strikeforce has been brought over, and it doesn't seem they have plans to send anyone over to Strikeforce anytime soon. These fighters will likely be stuck in limbo until the Showtime contract expires and decisions are made about what to do with Strikeforce and its fighters.
More thoughts after the jump...
- Luke Rockhold had a good night. Tim Kennedy is a tough guy to look good against and four rounds were pretty clearly Rockhold's as he was able to really put strikes together and get strong top positions pretty consistently. This is only Rockhold's third fight off the Challengers series and he is growing in each fight quite nicely. With another two fights I think he could be a legitimate Top 5 Middleweight.
- Tim Kennedy accounted for himself quite well and I full expect him to stick around in Strikeforce and make the trip over the UFC when that merger happens. He is a quality fighter and has a very marketable background and personality.
- Tryon Woodley was finally in an exciting fight, and it was mostly due to him getting his butt kicked. Nate Marquardt looked excellent both at Welterweright and sans (we think) the TRT. There were some moments for Woodley, who landed a few big punches but in the end Marqaurdt's standing elbows did him in with some sublime violence. I think most fans can join me in believing that it is good for Strikeforce that Woodley didn't wet blanket his way to a win and maybe this loss will force him back to the drawing board and evolve his offensive skills.
- Roger Gracie is getting a lot of flak for not tapping out Jardine, but grappling wise I though Roger looked fine. He was consistently one move ahead of Jardine on the mat and dominated him. Yeah he didn't get the tap but that happens sometimes, I'd only be concerned if it becomes a pattern. And Roger worked some nice elbows that cut Jardine open. I'm not sure what role the blood played in the grappling as I've never had a guy squirting blood all over me as I've grappled, but I have to imagine it does have an impact.
- What does concern me about Roger Gracie is how slow he looked at Middleweight. He was never a bundle of fast twitch muscle, but his hand speed looked glacial at times and his head is still straight up in the air. While Roger has an edge on the ground against anyone with a pulse, I don't think he has what it takes to beat serious Middleweights on a consistent basis.
- Lorenz Larkin on the other hand looked good at Middleweight. It seems like to be the weight class he was meant for as he seemed to be in fantastic shape. He was sharp with his strikes, fast and looked to be well conditioned. Robbie Lawler on the other hand looked awful as it became increasing clear he had no plan or way to deal with Larkin.
- Pat Healy looked awful also, as striker Mizuto Hirota out wrestled him during portions of that fight. I scored the fight for Hirota but it was extremely close.
- My last though is how sad it is that in this modern era, where Zuffa gets every UFC fight on card in front of fans by hook or crook, that the Jason High/Nate Morore fight was a dark fight. And the fact that it was only 26 seconds long and didn't make its way on to the broadcast even as a highlight is even more of a joke.