In a night marred by dreadful officiating and a round format that left a lot to be desired, Miesha “Takedown” Tate persevered to become the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Tournament Champion. Tate outlasted Maiju Kujala and Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano in a pair of highly competitive battles.
The semi-finals of the tournament were contested under two 3:00 rounds, which quickly turned into a disastrous format that was made worse by questionable referee standups. Nonetheless, Tate battled back after a tough first round with Akano to win the tournament with a Unanimous Decision.
Tate (11-2-0) faced Kujala (4-2-0) in the opening round of the tournament and struggled early on to take her Finnish opponent to the mat, but eventually managed to get her down. Kujala defended well from the bottom and regained guard, then tried for a guillotine choke. Tate looked to counter with her signature shoulder choke from the top until referee Ron Mation stood the fighters up in a highly questionable move. The second round was also very close, as both fighters scored with kicks and punches on the feet before Tate scored a takedown in the final minute. She controlled enough of the round to emerge victorious via a Unanimous Decision. No scores were read.
Akano (16-8-0) engaged in a spirited battle with Carina “Beauty But The Beast” Damm (15-4-0) in the opening round of the tournament. The fight was contested primarily on the ground, where Damm looked to strike from the top and Akano attempted submissions from her back. Damm also threw spinning backfists in the brief exchanges, but could not land anything significant. Akano scored a takedown in round two and isolated Damm’s arms in a partial crucifix from the top. She transitioned into an omoplata in a scramble, but Damm escaped. She could not escape a triangle choke seconds later, however, and was forced to tap out to a combination triangle armbar.
The tournament final, which was thankfully contested over three rounds, featured even striking battles as both fighters landed punches and body kicks. Tate took Akano’s back and dragged her to the mat in all three rounds, but Akano reversed in round one and attempted a Kimura and a tight toe hold. Tate stayed calm and took over in rounds two and three, taking Akano’s back and working for rear-naked chokes and even a Twister. Akano defended very well and a series of scrambles followed, but Tate maintained back control en route to a three-round Unanimous Decision. The win gave Tate both the tournament title belt and also a future shot at the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Championship.
Earlier in the night, Liz Carmouche used a smart strategy of takedowns and clinch control to stifle the offence of Colleen Schneider in the tournament’s reserve bout. Carmouche landed knees to the body and took Schneider down in round one, while the second round was much more even. Schneider finally managed to score a takedown of her own late in the round, but it was not enough and Carmouche was rewarded with a Unanimous Decision.
Full play-by-play from Strikeforce Challengers 10 is available here.