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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
STRIKEFORCE: BARNETT VS. CORMIER
MAY 19, 2012
LIVE FROM SAN JOSE, CALIF.
--Bobby Green def. James Terry via split decision
--Quinn Mulhern def. Yuri Villefort via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
--Gian Villante def. Derrick Mehmen via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
--Guto Inocente def. Virgil Zwicker via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
--Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
=====Main Showtime Card=====
-Mauro Ranallo welcomes the Showtime crowd, then passes on to Pat Miletich to break down what brought us to tonight's Heavyweight Grand Prix main event. Then he shifted to Frank Shamrock - now without braces - to discuss the trilogy bout in the co-main event between Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson. Then it's on to the first fight of the night.
FIGHT ONE: CHRIS SPANG VS. NAH-SHON BURRELL (WELTERWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Spang came out to the center and they traded strikes early. Spang is the younger brother of Bellator's Andreas Spang, who dropped a decision to Maiquel Falcao last night. Both fighters connected on strikes as they continued to trade in spurts. Spang threw a head kick but Burrell ducked under it. Span tried to engage but Burrell landed a nice right before they clinched. Spang drove Burrell to the cage and they jockeyed for position. Spang went for a single leg takedown, but Burrell stuffed it. Spang then separated with an elbow. Burrell landed a couple of strikes. Span dropped Burrell with a left. Burrell popped back up and Span punished him with a few knees. He buckled him again but Burrell bounced back up again. Spang continued delivering knees in the Thai clinch against the cage. Burrell was badly hurt but stayed on his feet. Spang continued landing strikes until Burrell kind of stumbled down to the ground. Referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in before Spang could continue delivering punishment. That probably should have been stopped sooner as Burrell was essentially out on his feet.
WINNER: Spang via TKO at 1:35 of the first round
STAR RATING: (**) Spang's got some good instincts, and as soon as he dropped Burrell he was on him with a continued string of offense until that stoppage. Burrell's a tough guy, and somehow managed to stay on his feet for most of that, but he was getting lit up by those knees. Decent fight overall.
-Tyron Woodley and Nate Marquardt are cageside with an official announcement of their fight for July 14 in Portland, Oregon.
FIGHT TWO: RAFAEL "FEIJAO" CAVALCANTE VS. MIKE KYLE (LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT)
ROUND ONE: Feijao landed a big knee early that rocked Kyle. He started landing strikes and Kyle worked to his feet. Then he jumped up and latched on a guillotine choke. Kyle was still standing and tried to work his neck free. Feijao held on, then Kyle tried to slam him down. The hold was still on, however, and as Feijao rolled it over Kyle was forced to submit.
WINNER: Cavalcante via submission (guillotine choke) at :33 of the first round
STAR RATING: (**+) That was an awesome 33 seconds of action from Feijao. Kyle ducked down from an overhand right, and that left him vulnerable to a huge knee to the jaw and it was just a matter of time from there. Latching on that guillotine choke and then holding on through the slam was an awesome sight from Feijao as well. Great performance to exact revenge on one of his three career losses.
FIGHT THREE: GILBERT MELENDEZ VS. JOSH THOMSON (LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
ROUND ONE: Thomson had wraps on both knees. Melendez backed him up and they traded strikes. Thomson covered up during a flurry and scored a brief trip takedown but Melendez got back to his feet. Thomson countered an attack with a short flurry. Melendez shot in and scored a takedown against the cage. Thomson got his back to the cage and tried to get back to his feet. Melendez stayed on him, but Thomson got to his feet. Melendez landed a short flurry before backing off. Melendez landed a nice short uppercut, then drove Thomson to the cage and landed a knee to the body. He backed off again. Thomson tried to engage with a clinch and he landed a knee. Melendez landed an uppercut again. Melendez landed a few more punches against the cage. The action slowed a bit. Thomson landed a nice straight punch. Melendez caught a kick, tripped Thomson down and landed a hard hammerfist to end the round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Melendez. He's pressing the action and landing some strikes, but not a whole lot happened that round.
ROUND TWO: Melendez pressed Thomson back immediately. He landed a few strikes on the cage. He drove Thomson back to the other side and shot for a takedown. Thomson stuffed it. Melendez backed him up again and landed a few body punches against the cage. He kneed Thomson in the body in the clinch before separating. The action slowed way down again. Thomson pressed in with a few strikes but they didn't land. Thomson landed a body punch. Melendez landed a couple strikes. He caught Thomson with an uppercut and Thomson smiled. Melendez accidentally poked Thomson in the eye and the action halted for a moment. Melendez landed a strike. Thomson tried to rush in and he landed a left. Melendez started landing a bunch of strikes. They started trading strikes with Melendez getting the better of the exchanges. Melendez landed a few hard punches to the body. He shot in and scored a big slam takedown. Thomson tried to get his back to the cage. He finally worked to his feet, and ate a big combination from Melendez. Thomson shot in and ate a string of elbows as the round came to an end.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Melendez. Much clearer round for him. He's not afraid of anything Thomson is throwing at him, and he's starting to open up more with his strikes.
ROUND THREE: Thomson tried to move forward. Melendez landed a leg kick. Thomson landed a kick to the body. Melendez landed a short uppercut and started pressing in again. He landed a couple of strikes. Melendez shot in but let it got as he got stuffed. Thomson then landed a few big strikes that backed Melendez up a bit. He then shot in and got stuffed. Melendez landed a few strikes. He connected on the uppercut and pressed Thomson back to the cage. He landed an elbow as he backed away. Thomson landed an uppercut. Melendez landed another uppercut. Thomson landed another trip but Melendez somersaulted out and to his feet. Melendez landed an uppercut again. Melendez landed a good body punch. Thomson tried to clinch and he ate a big series of uppercuts. He fought back and landed a flurry of his own. Thomson complained of an eye poke again and Melendez said it was a punch. The action restarted quick. Melendez landed a short flurry. Thomson shot in and Melendez sprawled. Thomson landed a push kick. Thomson landed a few strikes and Melendez fired back with a right before the round came to an end.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Melendez. Thomson's landing some offense, but he's slower than Melendez and isn't connecting on nearly enough to make up for what he's getting hit with.
ROUND FOUR: Thomson threw an early kick to the body. Melendez backed him up with a jab but missed the overhand right.Melendez missed a punch and Thomson countered with a big right that stunned him. He landed a head kick but it wasn't hard. Melendez came right back at him. He landed a few strikes, then shot in and scored another takedown. Thomson got back to his feet again. Melendez landed a few strikes as he walked Thomson down again. Melendez shot in once again halfway through the round. Thomson landed an elbow. Melendez landed an elbow as he backed away. Thomson landed a trip takedown and got into Melendez's guard. He landed a hammerfist. Melendez tried to scramble and Thomson took his back. He cranked for a rear naked choke and Melendez escaped. Melendez continued to defend. Thomson held a body lock. Melendez rolled to his knees, got to his feet and tried to somersault out. Thomson held position, but Melendez survived the round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Thomson. Well, now. That final minute came a little out of nowhere, but give Thomson credit for staying in this one right now. Melendez is not on his best game tonight.
ROUND FIVE: Melendez pressed in early. He landed a right and continued stalking. They traded strikes. Melendez shot in and scored a takedown. He landed several strikes but Thomson got back to his feet. Melendez went back to stalking. Thomson moved forward and landed a good right to the jaw. They traded punches again. Thomson connected on a solid right. Melendez landed a left, but Thomson countered. They traded strikes again. Thomson went high with a kick but it missed. He landed a flurry and ended with a kick. Thomson shot but it was stuffed and Melendez landed a knee on the way up. Melendez had his fingers out and again poked Thomson in the eye. Third time of the fight. Short break and they restarted. Melendez landed a left. Thomson landed a couple of jabs. Thomson landed a big flurry with a few knees. He landed another flurry. Melendez landed a left. Thomson's looking better than Melendez this round. Melendez shot in but got stuffed. Thomson landed a short combo. Thomson scored the takedown again. Melendez tried to land strikes from his back. Thomson landed a few strikes. Thomson landed a few more as Melendez tried to land strikes from his back.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Thomson. He was landing the more effective strikes and scored the late takedown, even though he didn't do much with it. This is going to be an interesting decision.
WINNER: Melendez via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
-Thomson could not believe the decision after it was read. Melendez held onto his belt by the slimmest of margins, but I gave him the first three rounds.
-Melendez admitted it wasn't his best performance, but he thanked a bunch of people through a chorus of boos. He said it wasn't motivated for this fight, and it was a lose-lose fight for him because he won but still lost.
-Thomson was then interviewed. He asked the fans not to boo Melendez and he credited him for being a great fighter. He yelled out, "who wants to see a fourth fight!?"
STAR RATING: (***+) That was another really good fight between the two of them, right up there with their second bout, and I can completely admit I didn't give Thomson enough credit coming in. Either that, or we've all been overvaluing Melendez for performances against lesser competition. He certainly didn't make a case for being the "number one lightweight" in the world here tonight.
MAIN EVENT FIGHT FOUR: DANIEL CORMIER VS. JOSH BARNETT (HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD GRAND PRIX FINALS)
ROUND ONE: Barnett slipped as he threw a body kick. Barnett landed a good left. Cormier went to stalk. They traded big strikes. Cormier landed a nice combination. He threw a high kick. They traded punches again. Cormier got in a few knees. Cormier backed Barnett to the cage and landed a good combination. Barnett landed a knee to the body against the cage. Cormier landed a nice combination. He got in a good knee to the body as the clinched. Cormier landed another short combination. Barnett tried to land a short elbow. Cormier pawed in with a jab. Barnett missed a punch but landed a low kick to the legs. He got in the short elbow as Cormier came in for a clinch. Cormier landed a good combination to the body and head. Cormier again landed a combination. Cormier again landed several punches. Cormier threw a front kick but it missed. He landed a leg kick. They traded punches. Cormier landed a knee in a brief clinch. He landed a push kick then landed a nice combo against the cage. Barnett landed a nice punch and a knee to the face that hurt Cormier. Cormier pressed him to the cage and held out the round in the clinch.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. He was outlining Barnett throughout the round and landed a lot of really good strikes. Barnett hurt him late with that knee, but Cormier took the round.
ROUND TWO: Barnett came to the center. Cormier landed a few quick combos. Cormier again with a short combo. Barnett tried to press in and Cormier pressed him back. Cormier again landed three while Barnett hit him with one. Cormier took a punch then landed a few in succession. Barnett landed a knee to the body but Cormier avoided any other punishment. Cormier landed two jabs. He landed a couple more punches and kicks. They traded strikes. Barnett landed a right. Barnett tried to score a takedown, but he got stuffed and ate an uppercut. Cormier landed a hard combination to the body. Cormier ducked under a punch, grabbed a single leg, and scored a takedown. Cormier tried to stay busy in Barnett's guard. He landed a hard forearm to the face. Cormier postured up briefly but Barnett held onto him. Barnett tried to throw up a triangle, but Cormier got out easily. Barnett tried to go for a leg lock, but Cormier got out, then dropped back into guard. Barnett's face was a bloody mess at this point. Cormier continued to work in the guard. He landed another short forearm and a couple more elbows. Cormier landed a vicious short series of elbows and punches, but Barnett made it to the end of the round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. That was a very good round for Cormier, and he's well ahead in this one right now.
ROUND THREE: Barnett tried to rush in early, but Cormier avoided his attack. Cormier connected on a few nice strikes as Barnett missed. Barnett landed a knee to the body, then went for a single leg against the cage. Cormier stuffed it. Cormier broke free, then landed another combo in close. Cormier continued landing multiple punches with Barnett connecting on one at a time. Cormier then landed a couple punches, ducked under, grabbed a single leg and dumbed Barnett on his head and got into side control. Cormier landed a few elbow strikes. Barnett reversed and Cormier let him get up. Cormier landed a couple good punches, then landed another jab. Barnett went for a head kick but it just grazed Cormier. Cormier fired back with a few more punches. Cormier landed a nice combination again. Barnett landed a knee as Cormier shot in and Cormier gave up on the shot. Cormier landed a head kick that hurt Barnett. He started unleashing punches and knees, but then Barnett landed an uppercut. Cormier backed out, landed a knee then took Barnett's back standing. Barnett landed an elbow, but Cormier kept control of him. Cormier rode out the round in the stalled position as the round ended.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Close to a 10-8. He's controlling every aspect of this fight right now.
ROUND FOUR: Barnett's face was a mess to begin the fourth, but he drove forward to kick things off. He landed a kick. He backed Cormier up to the cage. He landed a knee and grabbed a clinch. He landed a knee to the body. Cormier turned him around. Cormier avoided a punch and landed a body shot. He landed a hard left hook. They traded strikes. Cormier landed a good uppercut. Cormier went high with the kick again but it was blocked. He went to the other side and it was partially blocked. Barnett pressed in for a clinch but Cormier got away from him. Barnett tried a spinning back fist that missed. Cormier landed a double jab. Cormier missed a shot, then landed a right. He grabbed for a single leg and scored a takedown, but Barnett grabbed for a knee bar. He almost got the heel hook but Cormier escaped and got into his guard. He went back to the elbows in the guard. Barnett landed a couple from his back. Cormier continued to stay busy on top. They were stood up. Barnett landed a hard knee to the body. They clinched to end the round.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Closer than the first three, but still Cormier's round. He's firmly ahead into the final round.
ROUND FIVE: They shook hands to start the final round. Barnett tried to move ahead and he landed a body kick. Barnett pressed in and landed a knee. Cormier slipped on some water and got Josh Rosenthal to clean it quick. As they restarted and clinched. Cormier landed a couple of strikes. Barnett landed a couple of kicks. The action slowed considerably in the final frame. Barnett pressed in and landed a leg kick. Cormier circled on the outside then popped in with a two punch combo. Cormier ducked under a punch and took Barnett down again. Barnett walked up the wall. Cormier tried to pick him up and slam him but Barnett kept his balance this time. Cormier pressed him to the cage. Cormier was just looking to get this to the end of the round as he's well ahead. Cormier finally backed off with ten seconds left and avoided Barnett for the final moments. The crowd booed the final end of the fight.
Penick's Scorecard: 10-9 Cormier. Not much to that round, but Cormier scored another takedown and that was about all that happened that round.
WINNER: Cormier via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45)
STAR RATING: (****-) That was one of the better five-round heavyweight fights you're going to see, and even though it slowed down in the final round, there were some moments of greatness sprinkled in throughout. Cormier was absolutely fantastic in this fight, and he is for real as a top contender in this division. The UFC would be better suited just bringing him right over to the UFC, because he can compete with anyone at heavyweight right now.
-Barnett said he broke his hand in the first round on Cormier's head and it's killing him. He gave Cormier credit for being better today.
-Thanks for joining us tonight, we'll have reaction to this event throughout the week and a look ahead as we move to next weekend's all-heavyweight affair at UFC 146.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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