As the final Strikeforce event of the 2011 came to a close the resounding question echoing throughout the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California was “who’s next?” The two champions on the card last night had their hand raised in victory but have now essentially cleared out their respective divisions and what’s on the horizon for them is unknown.
Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez won his sixth fight in a row and had hoped that a victory would mean a move to the UFC. With the new deal between Strikeforce and Showtime those dreams were blown out of the water just days before the event and “El Nino” will remain in Strikeforce. Now Melendez knows where he’ll be in 2012 but his bosses are going to have to get some top talent under contract to challenge the champ.
Cristiane Santos needed only 16 seconds to dispatch another would-be challenger for her 145 lbs. title. There isn’t a long line of women in the 145 lbs. division waiting to step into the cage with Cyborg so a move down to 135 lbs. division might be the place for her. With champion Miesha Tate, former champion Sarah Kaufman and newcomer Ronda Rousey all in the 135 lbs. division there is at least three opponents for the dominate Brazilian.
Where the two champions go from here is a mystery but they handled their business last night.
155 lbs.: K.J. Noons defeated Billy Evangelista by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Noons opened the fight with a takedown but then looked lackadaisical the rest of the round. The two would step things up in round two as the fighters loosened up and started boxing. The jab of Noons picked Evangelista apart in the final round, which opened up a few more big punch opportunities.
205 lbs.: Gegard Mousasi defeated Ovince St. Preux by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mousasi threw the game plan of Ovince St. Preux out the door early in round one by counter striking against the telegraphed punches from OSP. Mousasi take the fight to the canvas after catching a kick and showed good top control and solid ground and pound. Round two starts with OSP quickly shooting for the takedown but Mousasi stuffs is and gets a knee trip for a takedown of his own. Back and forth in the final round with little damage but loads of scrambling.
145 lbs.: Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos defeated Hiroko Yamanaka by 1st rd. KO
- Yamanaka went right at Santos and paid the price with a right hand that dropped her seconds into the fight. She got back up long enough to take another flurry from the champ before the referee stops the fight just 16 seconds into the fight.
155 lbs.: Champion Gilbert Melendez defeated Jorge Masvidal by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
- In round one Melendez was beating the challenger to the punch and also had Masvidal in a guillotine choke. Mostly a boxing match in round two as Masvidal landed multiple left jabs but the champ landed the more power strikes. This would continue for pretty much continue the rest of the fight with the champion cruising to the unanimous decision victory.
Un-aired Preliminary Card
181 lbs.: Roger Bowling defeated Jerron Peoples by 1st rd. KO
155 lbs.: Caros Fodor defeated Justin Wilcox by 1st rd. KO
265 lbs.: Devin Cole defeated Gabriel Salinas-Jones by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
205 lbs.: Eddie Mendez defeated Fernando Gonzalez by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
170 lbs.: Herman Terrado defeat Chris Brown by 3rd rd. Submission (Armbar)