The Strikeforce/M1-Global event of November 7, 2009 was live on network television. The main event was a match between heavyweights Fedor Emilianenko and Brett Rogers. The UFC had tried to get Fedor to fight for them, but Fedor wanted to have a joint event with M1-Global. The UFC refused. That is unfortunate. Last night’s fights were in a huge venue which looked sold out. Of the four fights, three were exciting, one not so much.
The first match-up was between heavyweights Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva. Werdum is a BJJ guy with a record of 12-4-1. Six of his wins were by submission and he has had four knockouts. His speciality is the single leg take down. Silva, at 263 lbs., is about twenty pounds heavier than Werdum, with a four inch reach advantage. With a background in Muay Thai and BJJ, Silva’s record of 13 and 1 contains nine knockouts and three submissions.
Their three round bout went the distance with Silva not wanting to go to the ground. When he had the option, he stood up and waited for Werdum to get up too. Round 1 had Silva striking Werdum solidly, knocking him down and letting him get up. Werdum applied some inside leg kicks to Silva’s lead leg. At the buzzer, Werdum was down again after receiving an elbow in the clinch.
Round 2 started with Werdum being knocked down immediately. Eventually Silva went to the ground, but Werdum turned him over and was in half guard. Silva got up and was taken down by Werdum who went from half guard to side control. When Silva snuck out, Werdum tried a knee bar.
Round 3 had both men throwing leg kicks and, when in the clinch, Werdum used his knees. Werdum then took Silva down and was on Silva’s back when Silva turtled. He twice kneed Silva’s chin and Silva struck Werdum in retaliation. When on the ground Werdum did some ground and pound from half-guard.
Unanimous decision in Werdum’s favour.
Light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi was up next against Sokoudjou (who was called Terry twice). Mousasi’s record is 26-2-1 with fifteen knockouts and nine submissions. His background is boxing with his favourite technique being the jab. Sokoudjou has a record of seven and four with six knockouts. He has a black belt in judo and the leg kick is his favourite technique.
Round 1 began with Sokoudjou connecting with leg kicks. He then tried a take down and eventually threw Mousasi, after many strikes, with a hip throw that looked a lot like harai goshi but without the leg. After some ground work, Sokoudjou again threw Mousasi, this time with o soto gari. The men went through a variety of arm bar and choke attempts including a Kimura (ude garami) and a front naked choke (hadaka jime).
Round 2 started in the clinch with Mousasi applying an elbow and many knees. He then threw multiple strikes and knees again. Then Mousasi did the world’s slowest take down with Sokoudjou ending up in half guard. Mousasi then rolled him over and began his ground and pound which Sokoudjou couldn’t answer. Referee stoppage.
The next bout was between middleweights Jake Shields and Jason Miller. Miller came out with cheerleaders, almost getting clocked by one as he danced by. Now that would have been funny. Both these men have loads of experience, with over twenty wins each. Shields, a black belt in jiu jitsu, is much shorter (6″?) than Miller and his reach is five inches less than Miller’s. He specializes in wrestling using the single leg take down. He had won ten of his twenty-three wins by submission and went into the fight with twelve straight wins. Miller practices what he calls “slap boxing” and loves the jab. Their fight was a championship match set for five rounds.
During this fight, the audience booed a great deal. The bout went the distance so there was lots of opportunity for boredom. Shields seemed in control for the entire fight except he wasn’t capable of completing anything. Miller rolled out of any situation which looked dangerous (Shields’s using his arsenal of submission techniques). At other times, after being taken down (many times!), Miller would be sitting up, his back to the cage, and Shields would wrap up Miller’s legs with his own and stretch them out. Then Shields would throw strikes to Miller’s side. During one of the breaks, Miller’s team yelled at him to do something at the fence.
Miller suplexed Shields at the end of round 1 and slammed Shields in a take down in round 3. At the end of this round, Miller had Shields in a very tight rear naked choke, but Shields lasted until the buzzer.
Rounds four and five had Shields taking Miller down several times and ending up in the scenario I mentioned. Round 5 had Shields on Miller’s back with a figure of four around Miller’s middle, so we thought that he could finally get his submission. As with all the other attempts to submit Miller, Miller rolled out of the hold.
Shields won by unanimous decision, but the audience found much of the bout boring. Perhaps they didn’t understand the level of technique required to attempt the submissions or to stuff them. They seemed happier when the fighters were standing.
The main card, Fedor Emilianenko versus Brett Rogers, began just before 11 p.m. EST. We actually wondered if the show were going to end at 11 and, just as we talked about it, the television went black! The picture came on again some seconds later, luckily.
Fedor is light for a heavyweight at just under six feet tall and 232 pounds. Rogers is 6’4″ and 264 lbs. with a seven inch reach advantage. Fedor’s background is in sambo and judo, whereas Rogers’s is in boxing and muay thai. Fedor’s last loss was in 2000 and Rogers went into the fight undefeated with 10-0 consisting of nine knockouts and one submission.
Almost immediately, Rogers used a left jab to break Fedor’s nose. Even injured, Fedor took Rogers down twice in the round. While on the ground, in half guard or guard, Fedor did some ground and pound. Rogers held his own, though, on the ground and standing.
Round 2 had Fedor throwing a wide hook which connected. He and Rogers were in the clinch with Fedor throwing many strikes, all of which Rogers stopped. When they were at the center of the cage, Fedor threw a right which knocked Rogers to the floor. Fedor then jumped on Rogers to continue strikes. If Rogers had not moved his leg to block Fedor, he would have been pounded to unconsciousness. Fedor attempted a few other strikes, with Rogers just covering up. TKO Referee stoppage.
Rogers was very upset with himself for losing, but he showed that he deserved to be up there fighting the best in the world. Whereas Rogers looked fine afterward, Fedor had lumps on his forehead, a broken nose and a huge gash across the nose. Fedor said he was looking for an opening and found it in the way Rogers was standing. I expect, in future, Rogers will not stand like that. Rogers was quite keen to have a rematch.
November 8, 2009
p.s.The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 TUF10 guys should take lessons from the heavyweights we saw last night: the fights don’t have to be boring and the fighters had a variety of skills and excellent cardio. The rounds had only thirty seconds between them, yet the fighters did not looked completely exhausted, even those with injuries.