Strikeforce Fedor vs Rogers Results and Recap; The Last Emperor Reigns
Wow! What an amazing night for world extreme mixed martial arts. This was exactly what prospective fans of the sport needed to see. Gone were the freak show Kimbo Slice vs Tomato Can headline fights that EliteXC had for their CBS shows. This was premium MMA talent available for the whole world to see for free and the US fans were finally introduced to Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko.
Opening up the main card of extreme fights was an entertaining back and forth battle between fighters Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Fabrecio Werdum. Silva clearly took the first round, using his advantage in striking to keep Werdum at a distance and he had Werdum hurt a couple times. I’m not sure why but in the second round Silva went into Werdum’s comfort zone, jumping into his guard on the ground where the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert had a clear advantage. In the third and deciding round, Werdum turned up the aggression and went for several takedowns, keeping Silva on the defensive and that’s what ended up helping him eek out the decision. I definitely feel if Silva had kept it standing in the 2nd and not let Werdum gain confidence, it would have gone the other way.
In the next fight I was very impressed by both fighters. First of all I owe an apology to Sokoudjou, who I did not give a chance whatsoever to win his fight against Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. I assumed Mousasi would use his dominant ground and pound to finish Soukoudjou quickly but “The African Assassin” came into this fight well prepared and confident. I thought he stole round one with aggression in the stand up where he looked much faster than his previous fights and he definitely surprised me with his takedowns and submission attempts. Mousasi wised up in the second round where he capitalized on Soukoudjou’s exhaustion, reversing a takedown and repeatedly pounding him on the ground until the ref stepped in to stop the fight with a TKO win for “The Dreamcatcher”. While this wasn’t a title fight, it was a great introduction to the American audience for Mousasi, and I can’t wait to see his next fight against whoever Strikeforce can find to match up with him at 205.
In the co-main event and in a battle for Strikeforce’s vacant middleweight title, Jason “Mayhem” Miller didn’t disappoint with not only his ring entrance but also his fighting skills against Jake Shields. I give props to CBS for showing the entrances for this fight as Mayhem never fails to entertain. This time he dressed up in a great white gown before stripping it off and dancing to the cage through two lines of dancers. It was also really cool to see the differences between the fighters as Jake Shields came to the cage all businesslike and with no flamboyance whatsoever. As expected I’d say about 90% of the fight took place on the ground where both fighters are extremely proficient.
In the first round, Miller used his size advantage to throw Shields to the ground with a few impressive slams, but it became apparent that Shields was the better wrestler. He took Mayhem down whenever he found an opening, tried to improve his position and Mayhem would use his ground experience to make an amazing escape or reverse. It was a back and forth human chessmatch on the ground and it was fascinating! Mayhem had the most exciting moment of the fight, locking in a rear naked choke with about 30 seconds left in the 3rd round and Shields showed a ton of heart hanging on desperately until he was saved by the bell. I felt if there was another 10 seconds in the round, it would have ended by either submission or with Shields going unconscious, it was that close. For most of the rest of the fight, Shields again used his wrestling to keep top advantage on Miller, occasionally trying to improve his position but not inflicting a ton of damage. Once the final bell rang for the 5th round, I felt it could have been scored either 49-46 or 48-47 for Shields, and that’s how it ended up. Shields earned the title and I hope somewhere down the line these two fighters lock up horns again because I was thoroughly entertained.
And finally in the main event of the evening, Fedor Emelianenko arrived. While widely considered to be the best heavyweight in the world, he still has not gained a ton of notoriety in the US, where MMA has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Fedor helped his case considerably by putting on quite a show against severe underdog Brett Rogers, who was a very game opponent.The undefeated Rogers showed no fear blasting Fedor in the face with a powerful straight left jab early that appeared to break his nose. Fedor countered by getting into the clinch against the bigger, stronger Rogers and I thought the fight was all but over when it went to the ground, where Fedor has a dominant grappling advantage. I was proven wrong yet again though when Rogers slipped out of an aggressive submission attempt by Emelianenko and began some viscous ground and pound punches on Fedor that would have ended most fights.
Fedor survived the onslaught and worked to improve his position, grappling his way back his feet as the crowd roared. At the beginning of the second round, a more cautious Fedor looked for holes in Brett Rogers striking only to find a big one when he landed a monstrous right hook that dropped the giant to the ground. Referee “Big John” McCarthy stopped the fight after a few more blows declaring Emelianenko the victor via TKO at 1:48 of the 2nd round. This was an extremely exciting fight featuring textbook Fedor: appear beatable early only to dazzle and amaze all onlookers with a wild finish just like his old Pride fights against Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman.
If Fedor wasn’t a star before last night, he certainly is now.