The fights are over, the crowds have left the building and the circus has moved on down the road. We all saw the fights but there are different aspects to what each fight meant to the fighters and their futures. With that said,here are the real winners and losers of Strikeforce: Emelianenko vs. Henderson.
Dan Henderson – When Dan entered the cage to face MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko, he did so a month before turning 41 years old. Henderson has won enough gold to occupy a wing at Fort Knox, but this was the biggest fight of his career. The fight was an absolute barn-burner that saw both men hurt before Henderson landed the telling uppercut that sent his career to another level and potentially Emelianenko into retirement.
Dan is without a contract right now and is MMA’s biggest free agent. If there were another promotion that wanted a sure thing and can’t miss draw, they’d need a big piggy bank to land Henderson. The current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion should likely be signed to a Zuffa contract that allows him to float between Strikeforce and the UFC. He is a major threat to Jon Jones’ 205 pound belt and could be the man to hold both titles. His rocky relationship with Dana White notwithstanding, it would be a major gaffe for Zuffa to not resign him, especially coming off of this performance.
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Miesha Tate – Miesha Tate might be the one woman in the sport that can replace Gina Carano in terms of marketing and popularity. She’s beautiful, talented and now the Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion after arm-triangling Marloes Coenen in the fourth round of their championship tilt. The only drawback to Miesha’s picture perfect weekend was an unfortunate comment about desiring to actually kill Coenen in the process of becoming the champion. If you are going to represent the sport at the highest level, you need to know that isn’t acceptable, be it for dramatic effect or actual desire. Sans that silly comment, Miesha had a great gameplan, and executed it to perfection, submitting the submission expert.
It appears that Miesha’s immediate future is already laid out for her, as Sarah Kaufman lays in wait attempting to reclaim the Bantamweight title. The fight with Tate and Kaufman will be a rematch of a 2009 fight that saw Kaufman win a unanimous decision back when rounds were only three minutes. The rematch will be one of the biggest fights in the sport for the future of the women’s division. If Miesha can win that fight, she’ll go a long way to winning over Zuffa and perhaps helping the ladies cross over into the UFC. They are certainly deserving of the opportunity.
Tyron Woodley– Paul Daley is no slouch. He’s a tough fighter who has been at the top of the ladder and in what is a testament to the growth of Tyron Woodley’s game, he defeated Daley two rounds to one across the board. Woodley wrestled when he had to, he stood when he wanted to and he used a smothering top game to keep Daley safely on the defensive. Even when Daley was in his supposed comfort zone standing, he never landed anything of consequence and was actually out struck by Woodley. Woodley’s improvement in his boxing shows that he is both attempting to and succeeding in becoming a well-rounded mixed martial artist.
Tyron’s victory puts him in line for a title shot for the vacated Strikeforce Welterweight Championship. His likely opponent for the title fight is Tarec Saffiedine but there are some other notable names circling the belt. Fighters such as, Jason High, Bobby Voelker, and upstart Caros Fodor are all in the mix. It will be interesting to see who fights for the title, but Woodley won his eliminator and certainly has earned his spot in a title match for the belt vacated by Nick Diaz.
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Robbie Lawler – Robbie’s loss in this fight really puts him down the ladder when it comes to potential title shots. The people Lawler has beaten going back to 2007 are a combined 26-23 in their last ten fights. Basically, the wins Lawler has picked up in recent years against Lindland, Manhoef, Scott Smith, Murilo Rua, and Frank Trigg have not exactly been tearing up any divisions in MMA. Lawler himself now has lost two consecutive and four of his last six. He went against Tim Kennedy and did what he could, bloodying Kennedy with some nice shots, including an uppercut that appeared to break Kennedy’s nose, but in the end, it was an easy 30-27 unanimous decision loss across the board. Lawler seemed unable to unload his strikes and seemed to be over utilizing his new found footwork and in the end, was taken down, and handled by Kennedy.
Robbie is a popular fighter, due in large part to his aggressive, brawling style, but it was missing Saturday night in his fight and without it, he’s not nearly as scary a prospect as he usually is. He will continue to get fights, and he’ll continue to win some and lose some, but his shots at a title at this point, seem distant and fading.
Scott Smith – Scott has all the head movement of a totem pole and selling him as the comeback kid only works if and when he’s able to come back. He shocked Cung Le and Benji Radach in Strikeforce and Pete Sell way back in 2006. It’s hard to build a career on those three wins, and now when he fights, he just takes punishment and delivers very little in return. Shamrock, Gus Johnson and Mauro Ranallo would have you believe we were moments away from a single shot that would turn the tables, but in essence it was fifteen minutes of target practice.
Every fighter must decide for himself when it comes time to hang up the gloves. Scott has a winning record, but in losing four of his last five, you have to wonder how much longer Zuffa wants to pay the freight on a shipment that never arrives.
Fedor Emelianenko – Fedor’s three fight losing streak is the topic of way too much conservation as it is. However, it does stand to reason that the man once thought to be a cyborg wrecking machine in fact being all too human is a point of interest for most fans. Saturday night, once again Fedor was in action and the world stood by their collective keyboards to deliver his retirement death knell or trumpet his triumphant return to form. When the clock struck midnight, Fedor laid face down, the recipient of a Dan Henderson under the arm uppercut. It was a beautiful shot that hurt a whole bunch of people watching more than it hurt the legendary recipient. I won’t try and prompt Fedor’s retirement or defend his return. That is his decision, and he deserves some time to make it.
Gus Johnson, Frank Shamrock & Mauro Ranallo – From the classic gem to Tim Kennedy that he “Outwrestled the wrestler” when discussing Robbie Lawler to the many other mistakes, missteps and gaffes the announcing crew had, it was once again a comedy of errors in the booth. Minus the comedy of course. Oh and there are 31 days in July guys. Showtime has some of the best fighters, the best production but still chooses for whatever reason to torture their audience with Gus Johnson, Frank Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo. I understand it is a Showtime gig, but how can Zuffa attach their name to a product like this? The people who make decisions for Sho Sports need to address this. Gus Johnson knows nothing about the sport. Frank Shamrock has time and time again answered, “I don’t know” when probed for insight. Mauro has a ton of knowledge but feels the need to press things and falls flat. It’s getting to the point where there are as many Twitter comments about their asinine remarks as the fights themselves. That’s not good.
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