Strikeforce invaded the SaveMart Center in Fresno, California tonight for Strikeforce Challengers 7. The event was headlined by a heavyweight bout between Lavar “Big” Johnson and the undefeated Lolohea Mahe. The fight was Johnson’s first since suffering gunshot wounds in a drive-by shooting.
Also on the main card, highly-touted Andre “The Young Giant” Galvao clashed with Luke Stewart in a welterweight matchup, while Miesha “Takedown” Tate and Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Frausto met in a grudge match. MMARising.com has live play-by-play from the event.
Lavar “Big” Johnson vs Lolohea Mahe
The fighters traded punches early on and time was called after Johnson was poked in the eye. Action resumed and Johnson threw a one-two. Mahe answered with a counter right hand and clinched against the cage. Johnson worked for a guillotine choke as Mahe tried to take him down. Mahe eventually freed himself as Johnson’s arms grew tired.
Mahe scored a takedown and landed some big punches from the top. He moved briefly to side-control, but Johnson tried to scramble to his feet. Mahe landed more short punches as Johnson stood up. Both fighters threw wild hooks in the final seconds, but missed. Mahe took Johnson down just before the bell. 10-9 Mahe.
Both fighters threw huge punches to open the second round and Johnson followed with a pair of knees. Mahe clinched and Johnson resumed efforts to secure a guillotine choke. He let it go and broke free of the clinch as Mahe appeared to be gassed. Big punches landed for Johnson and a fatigued Mahe threw back a few of his own. Johnson picked Mahe apart with punches to the face and body, but Mahe backed him up with counterpunches.
Mahe landed more punches and the fighters exchanged knees. Johnson tried for another guillotine choke, but Mahe escaped. An exhausted Mahe fired off desperation punches, but was rocked by a flurry from Johnson. More punches followed for Johnson and Mahe again fired back with two punches. Johnson dropped Mahe and threw punches until the referee stopped the fight.
Winner: Lavar Johnson by TKO (Punches) at 3:29 of round two. He improves to 14-3-0.
Ron “Abongo” Humphrey vs George Bush
Humphrey moved forward quickly with punches and landed a pair of head kicks. Bush took Humphrey down and landed an uppercut as Humphrey got back to his feet. The fighters traded kicks and Bush looked to take Humphrey down again. Humphrey locked on a guillotine choke and the fighters fell to the mat. Within seconds, Bush tapped out.
Winner: Ron Humphrey by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:44 of round one. He improves to 7-1-0.
Andre “The Young Giant” Galvao vs Luke Stewart
Galvao scored a takedown early in the opening round and worked from Stewart’s guard. He stood up and rained down a trio of looping punches, but Stewart tried for an omoplata. Galvao escaped and fought off a heel hook attempt. Galvao transitioned into a toe hold of his own and the fighters battled for position on the ground.
A scramble followed and the fighters stood up. Galvao clinched and tried for another takedown, but Stewart stayed on his feet. Stewart landed a pair of kicks and briefly took Galvao down. Galvao got to his feet and the fighters traded knees in close. Galvao tried to pull guard and landed another knee before the bell. Close round. 10-9 Galvao.
Both fighters landed strikes early in the second round and clinched against the cage soon after. A stalemate followed and Stewart backed away. He landed a pair of kicks and a combination, but Galvao fired back with a one-two. A head kick and a flurry found the mark for Stewart and Galvao answered with a knee. Stewart fell while throwing a knee of his own, but scrambled and got back to his feet.
Stewart clinched and looked for a takedown of his own, but Galvao stayed on his feet against the cage. Short strikes were exchanged and Galvao circled free. Stewart landed body kicks and a quick combination, but Galvao took him down. He elbowed the leg of Stewart and tried to move to mount. Galvao threw hammerfists, but Stewart swept and wound up on top. Another close round. 10-9 Stewart.
Galvao landed a head kick to start the final round and Stewart immediately replied with body kicks and a front kick to the face. Galvao scored a takedown and landed some solid punches from the top. Stewart tried to sweep, but Galvao moved to half-guard and then side-control. Stewart impressively swept out of an arm-triangle choke and wound up in Galvao’s half-guard.
The fight returned to the feet and the fighters clinched against the cage. Both landed hard knee strikes in close and Galvao took Stewart down, but Stewart immediately reversed again. Stewart took Galvao’s back against the cage, but Galvao spun and drilled him with a knee to the body. Galvao landed an elbow over the top and Stewart answered with a kick to the ribs. Galvao tried to take Stewart down, but could not. 10-9 Stewart. Very close fight.
Stewart appeared to have done enough to win the fight, and possibly all three rounds, but the judges returned highly varied scores. Galvao took a Split Decision win that left many in disbelief.
Winner: Andre Galvao by Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 27-30) after three rounds. He improves to 4-1-0.
Miesha “Takedown” Tate vs Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Frausto
Tate opened with a kick to the body and looked to set up a combination, but Frausto kept her at a distance with a flurry and a kick of her own. Tate clinched against the cage and scored a takedown. She landed in side-control, but stood up and landed a big right hand. Tate moved back to side-control and landed short punches.
Frausto tried to scramble out to her feet, but Tate took her back. She tried for a rear-naked choke and Frausto stood and escaped. Three crisp punches landed for Tate and she clinched again. Tate took Frausto down again and moved to side-control, but had to fend off a leg scissor choke before the bell. 10-9 Tate.
Frausto landed a nice leg kick early in round two and followed with a right hook and a front kick. Tate jabbed her way in and clinched against the cage. She took Frausto down and once again landed in side-control. Tate secured a tight shoulder choke – the same hold she used to submit Liz Carreiro last year – and had Frausto in danger.
Tate eventually let the choke go, but secured another one seconds later. She used the choke to move to mount and rained down punches. Tate rolled right into an armbar and Frausto desperately tried to scramble out. Despite her best efforts, she could not and Frausto was forced to submit. Huge win for Tate.
Winner: Miesha Tate by Submission (Armbar) at 4:09 of round two. She improves to 9-2-0.
Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox vs Shamar Bailey
Wilcox landed quick punches right away and staggered Bailey with a head kick. A bloodied Bailey backpedalled and ate a pair of punches before knocking down referee Marcos Rosales. Wilcox backed Bailey up with more punches and another head kick as blood flowed into Bailey’s right eye. A one-two and a kick landed for Wilcox and Bailey fired back with a flurry. More punches landed for both in an exchange.
Time was called to check Bailey’s cut. The fight continued and Wilcox resumed his assault with quick punches and a body kick. Bailey landed a one-two and followed with another one seconds later. Lead right hands backed Bailey up and Wilcox scored with another vicious kick. Wilcox used a punch-kick combo to set up a takedown attempt, but Bailey defended. Bailey shot for a takedown of his own and Wilcox stuffed it. 10-9 Wilcox.
The fighters exchanged quick punches in the second round and Wilcox landed a nice right hand and a head kick. Bailey was poked in the eye in the process and Wilcox began to tee off with punches as Bailey backed up to recover. Bailey circled out and this time Wilcox was poked in the eye. Time was briefly called, but the fight resumed and Wilcox threw another high kick. Short punches landed for both as they looked to close the distance.
A nice flurry of punches backed Bailey up and Wilcox chased him down with a one-two. A punch-kick combination scored for Wilcox, but his next kick strayed low and time was called. Bailey recovered and Wilcox cracked him with another head kick. Both fighters landed punching combinations and Wilcox kept the pressure on with an overhand right and a body kick. Bailey was again poked in the eye, but the fight continued. Wilcox landed a barrage of strikes and took Bailey down before the bell. 10-9 Wilcox.
Bailey jabbed to begin the final round and Wilcox answered with quick counterpunches. A trio of lead right hands backed Bailey up and Wilcox battered him with two more shots in close. Bailey tried to secure a Thai clinch, but Wilcox circled out and threw a four-punch combination. Bailey landed a combo of his own and added an uppercut soon after.
Both fighters landed punches in an exchange and Wilcox scored a takedown. He moved to mount and landed short punches and hammerfists that opened the cut on Bailey’s forehead again. Bailey held on as Wilcox picked his shots with more strikes. Wilcox kept the pressure on and looked briefly for submissions, but Bailey escaped an armbar attempt before the bell. 10-9 Wilcox.
Winner: Justin Wilcox by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) after three rounds. He improves to 9-3-0.
Daniel Cormier vs John Devine
The fighters circled early on and Devine tried to take the fight to the ground. Cormier easily avoided Devine’s takedown attempts, but Devine managed to land a couple of solid combinations. Just over a minute in, Cormier landed a right hook that dropped Devine unconscious to the mat. He followed with punches until the referee stopped the fight. Solid win for Cormier.
Winner: Daniel Cormier by KO (Punch) at 1:09 of round one. He improves to 2-0-0.
Paul Ruiz defeated John Chacon by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds.
Ricky Jackson defeated Trinidad Valdez by KO (Punch) at 1:59 of round one.
Avery Kaleo defeated Chris Buron by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) after three rounds.
Capped off by an entertaining heavyweight battle, the seventh edition of Strikeforce Challengers was a solid event. Miesha Tate took one step closer to a rematch with Strikeforce champ Sarah Kaufman, while Andre Galvao eked out a contentious Split Decision victory in his long-awaited Strikeforce debut.