Strikeforce: "Evolution" Live ResultsStrikeforce returned to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California tonight for Strikeforce: “Evolution,” which was headlined by a middleweight bout between former champion Cung Le and hard-hitting two-time EliteXC title challenger Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith.

The night’s co-main event featured the long-awaited rematch between Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Interim Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez in a unification bout. has live play-by-play of the action.


Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith vs Cung Le

Round 1:
Smith rushed forward with punches and just missed with a head kick right away. Le hurt him with a liver kick, but Smith continued to be the aggressor. Another body kick landed for Le and he followed with a spinning crescent kick. Le floored Smith with a spinning back kick to the upper body and he rained down punches and hammerfists. Smith blocked many of the strikes, but remained turtled against the cage.

Le teed off with big punches and Smith battled back to his feet. He chased Le down with wild punches and was promptly sent to the mat with another spinning kick from Le. Back on the feet, more kicks landed for Le and he evaded a lunging combo from Smith. Le sent Smith backwards to the cage with a kick to the body and he added a punch-kick combination seconds later. 10-8 Le.

Round 2:
Smith once again chased Le down in round two and he stuffed a takedown from Le. Leg kicks scored for Le and he followed with a head kick. Smith answered with a lunging jab, but Le dropped him with a spinning back kick to the body. Smith trapped Le in his guard and prevented Le from doing any damage. A stalemate ensued and referee “Big” John McCarthy stood the fighters up.

Smith backed Le up with punches, but was unable to connect with any solid strikes. Two more kicks landed for Le and Smith clinched. Le attempted a judo throw, but Smith defended. Another throw attempt from Le failed and Smith cracked him with an uppercut. In another clinch, Smith scored with an elbow over the top. He landed two more punches at the bell. Le seemed to be tired as the round neared end. 10-9 Le.

Round 3:
Le rocked Smith with a head kick to begin the final round and he landed more kicks to the body. A spinning crescent kick just missed Smith’s head, but three liver kicks found the mark for Le. Smith landed a right hook and Le answered with two kicks and some hard punches. A spinning back fist and a spinning back kick both scored for Le, who briefly slammed Smith to the ground.

On the feet, Le kept Smith at bay with kicks to the liver and ribs. Smith backed Le up with a looping hook, but missed with an uppercut. Seconds later, he badly rocked Le with a left hook in an exchange. Le buckled and fell to the mat, but got back to his feet. Smith followed with more power punches that backed Le up to the cage. A pair of right hooks buckled Le again and he fell to the mat. Smith finished the fight with punches as Le lay face-first on the mat.

Yet another unbelievable come-from-behind win for MMA’s comeback king.

Winner: Scott Smith by KO (Punches) at 3:25 of round three. He improves to 17-6-0, 1 NC.



Strikeforce Lightweight Championship

Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez vs Josh “The Punk” Thomson

Round 1:
Melendez landed a stiff kick early on and Thomson answered with a one-two. A big punching exchange followed and Thomson stuffed a takedown. Thomson caught a kick from Melendez and pushed him to the mat. He briefly secured a standing guillotine choke, but Melendez broke free. Big punches scored for Thomson and Melendez missed with a standing elbow.

A hard leg kick and a trio of punches landed for Thomson and Melendez fired back with a right hook. Melendez continued to target Thomson’s lead leg and he looked to set up a takedown with jabs. Thomson scored with a kick of his own and more power punches were exchanged. Five more big shots landed for Thomson before the bell. 10-9 Thomson.

Round 2:
Thomson landed a nice body kick to begin round two, but was dropped by a counter right hook from Melendez. Thomson quickly worked back to his feet and turned up the pace with punches. Time was called after an inadvertent low blow to Thomson. Action resumed and the fighters traded leg kicks. Thomson landed a succession of kicks to the body and leg of Melendez, then stuffed a takedown.

Melendez caught a kick from Thomson and punished him with three punches, but could not take Thomson down. Melendez landed a knee and backed away. A one-two and a leg kick landed for Melendez and Thomson answered with a left hook to the liver. Thomson rocked Melendez with a big hook, which set off a huge punching exchange. Melendez dropped and badly hurt Thomson with a vicious combination, but Thomson managed to hold on. Excellent round. 10-9 Melendez.

Round 3:
Thomson opened round three with kicks and Melendez obliged with a chopping leg kick of his own. Quick punches were exchanged and Thomson missed with a spinning back kick. Stiff leg kicks landed for both fighters and both connected in an exchange. A one-two and a body shot scored for Melendez and he began to put together punch-kick combinations.

Melendez sent Thomson off-balance with a one-two and both fighters fell as Melendez threw a kick. More leg kicks landed for both and Thomson grazed Melendez’s chin with a knee. Thomson shot in for a takedown, but Melendez stayed on his feet. Thomson landed a knee and backed away. Melendez ended the round with a nice leg kick. 10-9 Melendez.

Round 4:
Thomson narrowly missed with a head kick in the fourth round and scored with a pair of leg kicks. Melendez stuffed a takedown from Thomson, but Thomson’s second effort was successful. Melendez battled back to his feet and both landed punches. A front kick and a one-two found the mark for Thomson. Melendez answered with a flurry and a knee, then followed with a punch-kick combo.

Melendez began to score with a variety of punches and kicks, but Thomson gamely fired back with a trio of hooks. Both fighters landed punches and Melendez briefly sent Thomson to the mat after catching a kick. Big, looping hooks just missed for both and Melendez stuffed a takedown. A three-punch combo to the head and body landed for Thomson and Melendez answered with a flurry of his own.

Big punches scored for both fighters in another exchange and time was briefly called after Thomson took a thumb to the eye. Very close round. 10-9 Melendez by a slim margin.

Round 5:
The final round began with a trio of punches from Thomson and he added in a pair of leg kicks. Thomson clinched and landed a knee, then unleashed a barrage of punches that backed Melendez up. Massive punches connected for both fighters as the crowd cheered wildly. Melendez, now bleeding from beside the nose, began to breathe heavily, but he caught a kick from Thomson and knocked him down.

Thomson worked to get back to his feet and Melendez looked to take his back momentarily. Another big exchange of punches brought the crowd to their feet and Thomson landed two kicks to the liver. A spinning back kick landed for Thomson and Melendez rushed in with a knee. Thomson scored a brief takedown, but the fight quickly returned to the feet. Yet another exchange of power punches ended the fight. Another very close round. 10-9 Thomson, barely.

Easily one of the best fights of 2009. Both fighters put on an amazing show.

Winner: Gilbert Melendez by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-47) after five rounds. He improves to 17-2-0 and becomes the Strikeforce Unified Lightweight Champion.



Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza vs Matt “The Law” Lindland

Round 1:
Lindland opened the fight with a pair of kicks and Souza fired back with counter hooks. Souza just missed with a head kick and stuffed a takedown from the Olympic silver medallist. Lindland could not find his range and Souza tagged him with two quick combinations. Lindland scored a takedown and Souza quickly locked up a triangle. He switched to a deep armbar, but Lindland survived.

Souza transitioned into an omoplata and landed punches, but Lindland rolled out and briefly held an omoplata himself. Souza worked from Lindland’s guard, then passed to side control with a diving hammerfist. Lindland regained half-guard, but Souza moved right to mount and secured an arm-triangle choke. Lindland held on for nearly 15 seconds, but was forced to submit.

Winner: Ronaldo Souza by Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) at 4:18 of round one. He improves to 11-2-0, 1 NC.



Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs “Iron” Mike Whitehead

Round 1:
Lawal connected with a nice counter flurry early on and followed with another combination that backed Whitehead up. Whitehead tried for a takedown and Lawal easily stuffed it. Whitehead scored with a knee in a Thai clinch, but was cut by a one-two from Lawal. He continued to tag Whitehead with left hooks and Whitehead answered with leg kicks. Lawal dropped Whitehead with a big right hook and knocked him out cold with follow-up punches on the ground.

Very impressive win for Lawal in his Strikeforce debut.

Winner: Muhammed Lawal by KO (Punches) at 3:08 of round one. He improves to 6-0-0.



Undercard Fights:

Antwain “The Juggernaut” Britt defeated Scott Lighty by TKO (Doctor Stoppage) at 5:00 of round one. He improves to 10-3-0.

Justin “The Silverback” Wilcox defeated Daisuke Nakamura by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) after three rounds. He improves to 8-3-0.

Alexander Crispim defeated A.J. Fonseca by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) after three rounds. He improves to 4-2-0.

A fight between Bobby Stack and David Douglas was cancelled at the last minute after Douglas was hospitalised. He had struggled with cutting weight and was unable to hold fluids down backstage.


While it featured some of the best fights of the year, Strikeforce: “Evolution” was reduced to a total of just seven fights as injuries once again wreaked havoc on a major mixed martial arts card.