In the opening fights of the two-title Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy event, Portland fans turned up at the Rose Garden Arena to cheer for their local fighter Pat Healy and adopted son Ryan Couture. The judges obliged, giving those fighters early wins on a night that also demonstrated 22-year-old Jordan Mein's scary potential at welterweight and started with a submission sunk in under 30 seconds.
Mizuto Hirota vs. Pat Healy
In the night’s featured prelim, Portland’s own Pat “Bam Bam” Healy spoiled DEEP and Sengoku champ Mizuto Hirota’s Strikeforce.
Throughout the lightweight fight, Hirota was able to control the action,
using a bodylock to keep Healy against the fence. His first takedown
resulted in a standup and a call for action from the ref, and on the
feet it was Hirota who set the tone with repeated hooks and short body
shots. At times, Healy’s five-inch height advantage seemed to work
against him, as each time he threw punches, Hirota would duck under and
close the distance to clinch.
In the second round, Healy worked more to keep things in the
center of the cage. His efforts with short elbows and punches opened up
the Japanese fighter’s nose, but Hirota continued to use his power and
leverage to get cage control and another takedown. With two minutes
left, Healy rallied by dumping his opponent on his butt, as Hirota
closed his guard and worked his way back out of danger. In round three,
both men briefly exchanged in the center of the cage, but otherwise it
was more of the same on the fence, this time with Healy doing more of
the work to get takedowns.
Judges unanimously gave the fight to Healy with scores of 30-27 and
29-28 twice, bringing him to a 30-15 pedigree; Hirota now sits at 14-5-1. "Hirota was super tough and really strong. His wrestling was a lot better than I thought it would be," said Healy, who called for a title shot against reigning lightweight king Gilbert Melendez. "I think I’ve earned it. I’ve fought the toughest guys and I have the most wins."
Ryan Couture vs. Joe
A second lightweight bout featured the fourth Strikeforce
outing of Ryan Couture, as he took on TUF alum Joe Duarte in a competitive
fight scored as a split decision for Couture.
The first round was back and forth as both fighters tested
their range. Duarte performed well with short, snapping strikes that included
body blows; but Couture was ready with counters that backed Duarte off each
time. A last-minute takedown seemed to spell points for Duarte, but he landed
in Couture’s butterfly guard and was briefly on the brink of being armbarred.
The first big takedown in the second belonged to Couture,
who used the clinch to throw Duarte down; Duarte later returned the favor with
a trip but quickly let Couture back to his feet. With a minute left, Couture
got another big takedown, took Duarte’s back, then opened up with some elbows on
the ground as the crowd in Oregon – his UFC Hall of Fame father’s home turf –
Couture’s momentum carried into the third as he scored a
huge knee to the body from the clinch. Duarte continued pressing the action,
but his striking was less aggressive and he seemed weary as Couture worked
against the cage for takedowns. Duarte easily got a couple of takedowns in the
center of the cage and once worked for a guillotine on the ground, while
Couture got some against the fence, but each time both men – increasingly exhausted
-- returned to their feet.
The scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 boosted Couture to a 5-1
record while Duarte gets his first loss in more than two years, slipping to
Jorge Masvidal vs. Justin Wilcox
In his first return to action
since his December title bout against Gilbert Melendez, boxer
Jorge Masvidal earned a split decision victory over AKA power wrestler Justin
“The Silverback” Wilcox. Though the lightweight contender never opened
up with his signature striking, Masvdial's solid takedown defense and a
powerful flurry in the first sealed the win.
Wilcox came out the
aggressor, throwing a high kick and lunging forward with jabs, but his
five-inch reach disadvantage did him no favors and after about 90 seconds,
he went for a takedown, finishing it with a trip. Wilcox bulled
“Gamebred” to the fence, and once Masvidal made it back to the center,
Masvidal came to life, nailing a hard punch that staggered the shorter
fighter. Wilcox shot again but this time was stuffed by Masvidal, who
landed a knee, followed Wilcox to the ground, then literally chased him
around the cage as Wilcox tried to escape the onslaught of kicks and
punches. Yet another flying knee seemed to stun Wilcox, who backed up
and swatted at Masvidal until regaining his balance at round’s end.
started the second with more strikes, kicks and takedown attempts, but
again struggled to complete anything of note. Masvidal waited out the
muscle-bound wrestler, but his most solid response was a low kick. A
high kick from Wilcox grazed the taller fighter, who smiled and urged
Wilcox forward. Wilcox obliged, as Masvidal continued to wait and watch.
With under a minute left, Wilcox managed to get Masvidal down.
Masvidal was biding his time before exploding, he didn’t show it in the
third, as Wilcox pushed forward with combinations that finally began
to find their mark. Masvidal connected with the occasional low kick or
jab, but it was Wilcox who threw and landed more, then briefly got
Masvidal to the mat before trapping him against the cage and dragging
him back down.
Judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29
for Masvidal, whose sluggish performance was enough to lift his record
to 23-7; Wilcox departs the Rose Garden Arena with a record of 11-5.
"I thought I had him out twice in the first round but he scrambled and
managed to survive so my hat’s off to him," said Masvidal. "I’m not a
wrestler by trade and I was happy I was able to stuff so many of his
Jordan Mein vs. Tyler Stinson
televised bout on the prelims, which aired on SHO Extreme, featured
Canadian prospect Jordan Mein fighting self-made Kansan Tyler Stinson.
At just 22 and 26, respectively, with more than 30 fights each, the two
rangy welterweights represented two of the youngest and most experienced
fighters on the card. After three rounds, judges gave the unanimous
decision (30-27 three times) to Jordan Mein.
Most of the fight
was a boxing match, with Stinson controlling the action but Mein
controlling the damage. Stinson used his jab to make space, as Mein’s
deft head movement kept him largely out of danger. The story of round
one was Mein’s left hook, which landed multiple times per minute and
broadcast itself on the right side of Stinson’s face, which was bloodied
after just two minutes of combat.
Both men sped up in the
second, with Stinson throwing more legs to start out. Mein landed a
thudding right to the body, but Stinson continued his aggression before
“Young Gun” Mein fired back with an uppercut. The younger fighter’s calm
was evident, as he waited and picked his shots, using his technical
boxing to inflict damage with counters. Mid-round, Mein’s
combinations became more fluid, with more body shots on display. Stinson
continued to move forward and work his jab, but seemed unable to mount
any significant offense save a few straights that found their marks.
Stinson scored with one takedown as Mein came forward, but Mein quickly
got back up and rewarded the Kansan with more strikes upstairs.
cranked up the aggression in the third stanza, taking the center of the
hexagon in southpaw and closing in with strikes including a nasty right
hook that landed a few times. With Stinson’s corner urging him to “risk
it all,” Stinson threw a trio of body kicks, but it wasn’t enough to
dissuade Mein, who remained composed and active as the clock ticked
"He landed some hard body kicks that sucked the wind out
of me toward the end there," said Mein. "This is a really gratifying
The win was Mein's 24th (with 8 losses) and his second in
Strikeforce (last September, he memorably finished Evangelista Cyborg
with elbows), while Stinson drops to 21-9.
Jason High vs. Nate Moore
the night’s first bout, welterweights Jason High and Nate Moore met in
what turned out to be a quick clash between two wrestling titans. “The
Kansas City Bandit” High opened with a few testing kicks followed by a
combination, and as Moore charged forward, High locked in a guillotine
and pulled guard, drawing the tap just 26 seconds in.
High – who
last month won his division as a blue belt at the at the 2012 IBJJF
Worlds – sees his record rise to 17-3, while AKA’s Moore slips to 8-3.
easily could’ve been a drawn-out fight so I’m happy I could finish it
quickly and stay healthy," said High. "He tried to take me down but I
was prepared for it and I sunk in the guillotine."