While Strikeforce‘s latest show on CBS is widely considered a major failure from a promotional view, the three title fights went off without any major hitches. We saw two underdogs overcome the odds the media and fans stacked against them to emerge as unlikely champs – one defending and one getting his first taste of gold.
By all naysayer accounts, middleweight champ Jake Shields should have been smashed by former PRIDE champ Dan Henderson. In fact, he was indeed nearly put to sleep with a massive overhand right in the first round but the resilient Shields battles back to utterly dominate the next four frames. His takedowns and top control made Henderson seem outmatched which is truly saying something as “Hendo” was coming off a vicious knockout in his previous outing at UFC 100 against Michael Bisping. I’ve been hearing Dan had aspirations of holding three Strikeforce belts but those plans, if true, will have to be re-evaluated now that Shields sent him back home looking rather aged.
With the major win over Henderson, Shields is now at the end of his current Strikeforce contract and could be signing with the UFC before too long. UFC President Dana White has expressed strong interest in Jake. Additionally, TUF 11 coach Chuck Liddell has said in recent interview he would like to see the Cesar Gracie black belt in the Octagon now that’s he’s a free agent. All signs point to a UFC debut before the year’s out but only time will tell.
In the night’s opening broadcast bout Muhammed Lawal entered the cage against a intensely hyped Gegard Mousasi looking to snatch the light heavyweight belt despite being written off by many including myself. No-one will ever doubt Lawal’s athletic abilities but in terms of being a well-rounded fighter with extensive experience, all roads had lead to Mousasi. Now the tables have turned and the doubters cannot stop jawing about Gegard’s uninspired outing in which he was on the receiving end of takedown after takedown. Lawal’s power and endurance were what won him the unanimous decision victory – even if he did take some major shots inside guard.
Now with the belt around his waist, Lawal sits at an undefeated 7-0 pro record and massive target on his back. Fellow light heavyweights like “Babalu” Sobral and even “The Dream Catcher” Mousasi will seek a crack at the still-green powerhouse “King Mo”.