By Jaime Feal
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos made short work of the #2 woman’s featherweight in the world, smashing Hiroko Yamanaka in less than 20 seconds. Cyborg affirmed her status as the most dangerous female in MMA, in addition to retaining her Strikeforce woman’s featherweight title. In the main event, Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez dominated Jorge Masvidal, as Melendez showcased his improved stand-up in a potential audition for the UFC. Melendez also retained his Strikeforce lightweight championship, but he may be forced to vacate that title if Zuffa offers him the opportunity to jump from their smaller promotion, Strikeforce, to their big leagues, the UFC.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
K.J. “King” Noons (10-4, 2-2 SF) vs. Billy Evangelista (11-1, 7-1 SF)
Noons starts with a couple inside leg kicks. Evangelista misses with an overhand right. Noons shoots for a double and hits it. Evangelista gets back up and lands a couple knees. The fighters grapple and clinch for position, then separate. Noons misses a low kick. Billy has Noons up against the cage, and picks him up and dumps him on his head. As Noons rises Evangelista goes for a standing guillotine, but K.J. quickly escapes. Evangelista again pressing against the cage, landing knees to the body. Evangelista tries to lift K.J.’s leg to take him down, but Noons shows good balance and stops the takedown attempt. Halfway through the round, Noons pawing with a jab to find his range. Noons scores with an inside leg kick. Evangelista lands a big left hook, but Noons takes it well. Noons misses with an uppercut but lands a follow up right. Evangelista back to his game plan of pressing KJ on the cage and landing knees to the body. 10-9 round for Evangelista.
Noons again lands two leg kicks to start the round, this time outside leg kicks. Noons feints then misses a knee. Noons lands a nice right hand, then misses with a spinning back kick and spinning back fist. Evangelista lands a left hook. Noons partially lands a right head kick. Noons circling now looking to counter, as both fighters miss uppercuts. Noons works the body with a one-two. Noons goes for a shot but it is stuffed. Noons lands a right uppercut. Evangelista lands a nice right hand counter. Noons misses a left hook. Noons shoots but it is stuffed. Noons bleeding from the bridge of his nose. Two outside left kicks for Evangelista. Noons with a nice jab. Evangelista lands a right, and the fighters clinch on the cage to close out the round. 10-9 round for Noons.
Evangelista lands a nice counter left and right. Now the fighters are opening up and Noons lands two right uppercuts. Noons hits Evangelista with a counter left hook. Noons using his range to tag Evangelista, and then hits him good with a right head kick. Evangelista shakes his head no again. Evangelista shoots but it is stuffed. Another right uppercut for Noons connects. Noons lands a jab and is starting to bloody Evangelista’s face. Evangelista presses him to the cage and lands some good knees. Evangelista pressing aggressively and Noons is circling away and avoiding most of the strikes. The lightweights grapple on the cage and Evangelista goes for a standing guillotine, which he then switches to a D’arce choke as he drags Noons to the ground by his neck. .K.J. is able to quickly escape on the ground, and as the fighters stand Noons just misses with a huge right uppercut. Both fighters look gassed now as they throw tired, looping punches that are missing their mark. One minute to go in the fight. Noons waves his arms out to the crowd to try to get them fired up. Noons lands a jab as Evangelista is talking to him. Noons lands another jab and Evangelista comes in with a knee. Noons catches Billy with a nice left hook. Noons with a good one-two. Evangelista lands a left hook to the body. Evangelista lands an elbow as the fighters break. 10-9 round for Noons.
The judges score the fight 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28 for the winner by unanimous decision, K.J. “King” Noons.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi (31-3-2, 2-1-1 SF) vs. Ovince St. Preux (11-4, 5-0 SF)
Mousasi comes out loose, and walks forward into a left kick. Mousasi, undeterred, is still coming forward and now lands an outside left kick. Ovince St. Preux again with a head kick, and misses a spinning back kick. Mousasi backs him up with a one-two. OSP with another left head kick but it is blocked. St. Preux misses with a straight left. Mousasi tags him with a straight right. Mousasi lands a one-two form the southpaw stance. Mousasi controlling the fight with aggression. OSP goes for a kick which Mousasi catches and uses for a takedown. “The Dreamcatcher” moves to half guard and strikes with his right hand. Now he strikes OSP with elbows and both hands. Mousasi is postured up in the guard, throwing left and right hands as St. Preux is looking for an armbar. Mousasi passes to side control, and lands a nice left elbow. Mousasi has got a crucifix and lands a few good strike, which cause OSP to burst out and scramble up.. Mousasi takes him right back down, and starts beating him up again in half guard. Then he moves to side control, crucifix position, and goes for the Kimura. As he looks to crank the shoulder and roll, Str. Preux reverses and escapes to top position, but can’t do anything with it as Mousasi reverses and starts pounding on St. Preux. Agains he crucifixes OSP with ease, and pounds him with the left hand. 10-8 round for Mousasi.
St. Preux shoots in for a double and gets stuffed, then tripped to the canvas as Mousasi is once again on top. Mousasi in the closed guard and posturing up, looking to stack St. Preux up and land punches. Mousasi passes to half guard and works strikes with the left hand. Now a nice left elbow connects for “The Dreamcatcher.” Mousasi going back to the left hooks on the ground to the head of St. Preux. Mousasi using his superior jiu-jitsu to completely dominate St. Preux on the ground. The ref stands up the fighters up due to inactivity, questionable stand up as Mousasi was always either advancing or striking. Stand up may have been influenced by the crowd booing and growing inpatient. St. Preux lands a flying left knee which causes Mousasi to shoot in. St. Preux sprawls nicely and reverses it and takes Mousasi down. St. Preux passes to side control. Ovince lands a left elbow. Mousasi is able to get to his feet with thirty seconds left. OSP attempts a lazy takedown and Mousasi sprawls and defends it. 10-9 round for Mousasi.
Mousasi lands a left outside left kick. OSP clinches Mousasi and lands a knee to the body. Mousasi takes St. Preux down and Ovince gives up his back as he stands. OSP turns into Mousasi nicely to escape the potential standing back position. OSP takes down Mousasi and gets in side control. St. Preux lands some right hands to the head and then mounts Mousasi. “The Dreamcacther” bucks him off, but OSP flips him back over and starts treeing off from full mount. Mousasi again escapes, and this time to his feet. Mousasi looking for a takedown of his own now, as he pushes OSP all the way to the other side of the cage. St. Preux finally goes down, and then turtles up as Mousasi looks to take his back .Mousasi has one hook in and is against the cage striking. OSP stands up and reverses Mousasi down to the ground, then Mousasi winds up on top and in half guard. Mousasi lands some left hands on the ground. Mousasi tries to take St. Preux’s back, but slips off and then eats a big left hand while St. Preux stands over him. OSP has Mousasi turtled now and is going for a choke, but doesn’t have enough time to finish it. 10-9 round for St. Preux.
The judges score the fight 29-28, 29-28, and 29-28 for the winner by unanimous decision Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi.
Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Championship (145 lbs.):
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (10-1, 4-0 SF) vs. Hiroko “Cat’s Eye” Yamanaka (12-1, 0-0 SF)
Santos instantly comes out aggressive with a left hook, and two short rights on the chin drop Yamanaka bad. Cyborg throws a right hook on the ground and the referee is already taking a close look as Yamanaka turns and gives up her back. Cyborg looking for the rear naked choke, but then quickly abandons it in favor of letting Yamanaka up. Santos is relentless and again drops Yamanaka with a flurry, and this time the referee rushes in to stop the fight.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos wins by TKO at 0:16 of Round 1.
Strikeforce Lightweight Championship (155 lbs.):
Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (19-2, 9-1 SF) vs. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (22-6, 4-0 SF)
Masvidal lands an outside leg kick. Melendez lands a one-two that backs up Masvidal. Both lightweights doing a lot of range-finding with their strikes, and not landing much through the first two minutes. Masvidal lands a jab. Melendez lands a nice right hand, and Masvidal drops his hand and sticks out his tongue. “El Niño” steps in and backs Mavidal up to the cage with punches. Melendez lands an outside right leg kick. Mavidal throws a right head kick which is blocked. Fighters are opening up now. Melendez fakes a takedown, and then springs up and misses an uppercut. Flying knee from Masvidal misses, but then a good leg kick sweeps Melendez off his feet. Gilbert promptly hops back up, and the combatants resume trading. Surprising stand-up war this far. Masvidal lands an outside kick, and Melendez comes forward and takes him down after catching a leg kick. Melendez has a front headlock as Mavidal stands, and “El Niño” is landing some solid knees. Masvidal gets out of the hold, and the fighters trade straight punches that land. 10-9 round for Melendez.
Melendez misses with a left hook. Melendez lands a couple jabs. “El Niño” with a very nice counter straight right. Masvidal eats a left hook on the fence. Masvidal throws a head kick that is blocked. Melendez continues to come forward and lands a one-two. Straight left hand from Masvidal connects. Melendez eats a jab, but then comes forward and lands a nice combination. Flying knee from Masvidal just misses. Right hook from Melendez lands. Outside left kick from Masvidal hits its mark. Crowd begins to chant “Niño! Niño!” in support of the local favorite. Melendez paws with the jab. Two left hooks and an outside right left kick from Melendez. 10-9 round for Melendez.
Melendez presses forward with a series of jabs that again back “Gambred” up. Melendez shoots and is stuffed impressively by Masvidal. Melendez with good head movement, but misses a left hook. Melendez lands a straight right. Masvidal lands a flying knee. Melendez pressing forward and hits Masvidal with a right hand. “El Niño” again stalking Masvidal, and throwing a series of uppercuts and right hands. Melendez with a good straight left. Masvidal with his best punch of the night with a digging left hook to the liver. Masvidal with a jab. Powerful left head kick from “Gamebred” that Melendez blocks with his arms. Good one-two from Melendez. The fighters trade punches in the center of the ring. 10-9 round for Melendez.
Melendez with some jabs to start the championship rounds. “El Niño” coming forward, now mixing in the straight behind the jab. Melendez bouncing around, showing off his cardio nearly seventeen minutes into the fight. Melendez lands with more jabs, and Masvidal has looked shell shocked all fight: He is simply not throwing enough .Melendez with a one-two, and Masvidal finally responds with a jab. The lightweights both eat jabs from one another. Masvidal now with two jabs. Melendez responds with a one-two. “El Niño” continues to walk down Masvidal, landing one-twos to finish the round. 10-9 round for Melendez.
Melendez with a one two. Melendez briefly changes levels, then pops up and lands a left hook. Another nice digging left hook to the body from Masvidal. Good jab from “Gamebred.” One-two from Melendez. Good straight right from “El Niño.” Melendez finds his mark with a jab-jab-left hook combo. Masvidal with a nice left hook. Interestingly, Melendez’s face is busted up, even though he has only taken a few clean punches all night. Masvidal’s face looks completely unscathed on the other hand, despite being tagged consistently. Good left and right hook from “El Niño,” followed by a nice one-two. Right outside leg kick from Masvidal. Good, stiff jab from Melendez, with one minute left in the fight. A steady diet of combos and one-twos from Gilbert Melendez ensue for the next half minute, then Masvidal briefly gets a takedown. “El Niño” bounces up right away to end the fight.
The judges score the fight 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46 for the winner by unanimous decision Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez.