Strikeforce Challengers 10 8/13/10 Phoenix, AZ Dodge Theatre
Women's Welterweight Next Challenger Tournament Semifinal: Meisha Tate vs. Maiju Kujala 2R. Tate was too strong for Kujala, dominating any time they locked up. Tate also seemed somewhat better in standup, so Kujala was very much overmatched, having especially little chance against “Takedown” under these awful two 3 minute round tournament rules where whoever gets the first tackle was liable to be up a round. The fight was mostly notable for containing one of the most hilarious examples of bad reffing. In round 1, Ron Mation got tired of Kujala's hopeless guillotine attempt that had gone on since Tate took her down, so he complained to Tate that she needed to go for a submission or he'd stand them up. Tate no sooner hooks the Von Flue choke then Mation, not even noticing, calls for the standup. Tate won a unanimous decision. Below average match.
Women's Welterweight Next Challenger Tournament Semifinal: Carina Damm vs. Hitomi Akano R2 1:48. Fast-paced mat match. I really enjoyed Akano's aggression. Damm was the better standup fighter with her kicks and flashy spinning backfists. She controlled early, but Akano kept trying for submissions or reversals any time she had any space. Akano had a judo throw late in round 1, and got the takedown early in round 2, adjusting so Damm's own weight worked against her. She got swept when she passed guard, but almost hit an omo plata in the process and soon rolled Damm in a triangle for the submission. Above average match.
Ryan Couture vs. Lucas Stark R1 1:15. Randy Couture is so old his debuting son is 27. Stark, also making his pro debut, was a whopping 2-4 as an amateur, so it's hard to say whether Stark is more formidable opposition than a 41-year-old boxer, but either should only be against new fighters. This was actually an entertaining little fight with Couture getting the early leg trip and working for a guillotine, but Stark making a nice counter into a fireman's carry only to show us why no one uses the fireman's carry, as Couture was predictably able to counter immediately, hitting a triangle for the win.
Women's Welterweight Next Challenger Tournament Reserve Match: Colleen Schneider vs. Liz Carmouche 2R. I believe this was the first time I saw a fight where they actually weighed the combatants on the way to the ring. Unfortunately, that was about the only notable aspect of the contest. Carmouche just managed the fight, controlling position early but never actually having any real offense. Carmouche was able to close the distance to avoid Schneider's striking, and win via control, whether leaning on Schneider or later taking her down. Schneider changed things up, trying for the takedown in the 2nd, but couldn't get that and also wasn't having any success with no setup spinning kicks. As Caramouche really did nothing in the second but avoid, I thought Schneider's last second takedown was enough to even the uneventful fight. Schneider was at least aggressive, even if ineffective, in the 2nd, but Carmouche got the unanimous decision. Poor match.
Women's Welterweight Next Challenger Tournament Final: Meisha Tate vs. Hitomi Akano 3R. Good grappling match with both working hard for submissions. Akano is one of the smartest fighters I've seen at avoiding the takedown. Just when her opponent thinks they have her, she uses their momentum and/or weight against them to drop down on top. She was by far the entertaining fighter of the six women, showing you positions and moves you don't normally see. She won the first round with a good toe hold attempt. Round 2 was pretty much a toss up with both working for submissions. Tate won round 3 getting Akano's back countering her judo throw and working for the rear naked choke then later a Kimura when Akano's reversal failed. Tate won a unanimous decision. Good match.
Joe Riggs vs. Louis Taylor R3 2:07. Both fighters were very patient. Taylor was pretty much just putting out the jab to try to set up the takedown, and Riggs was tentative because he was worried about Taylor timing him. Riggs kept backing up when Taylor pawed, so although Taylor had a brief takedown in the first and another late in the second, he actually shot very few times and was pretty much tiring himself out getting nowhere. Riggs was the far superior striker, but instead of drilling Taylor with a straight when he walked in leading with his head, he kept retreating, which needless to say made for an incredibly boring fight. Riggs finally stood his ground and cracked Taylor with a left hook early in the third and took the top after stuffing Taylor's takedown. Riggs has an awesome top game and Taylor is used to always being on top, so it didn't take long for Riggs to pass into a crucifix and pound Taylor out. Poor match.