Strikeforce: "Melendez vs Masvidal" Live Play-By-Play & ResultsStrikeforce showcased two title fights on its final card of 2011 tonight at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. Strikeforce: “Melendez vs Masvidal” was headlined by a Strikeforce Lightweight Championship bout between Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez and Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal.

In the night’s co-main event, Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos returned to action for the first time in 18 months to defend her title against Japanese standout Hiroko “Cat’s Eye” Yamanaka. has live play-by-play for tonight’s Strikeforce main card.


Strikeforce Lightweight Championship

Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez vs Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal

Round 1:
The fighters started cautiously in round one and looked to find their range with single punches and leg kicks. A solid one-two scored for Melendez and he followed with a right hand. Masvidal began to taunt and Melendez cracked him with another powerful right cross. Melendez landed a unique three-punch combo to the head and body and avoided a flying knee.

A lead left hook landed for Melendez, but Masvidal tripped him to the mat with a leg kick. Melendez stood and covered up as Masvidal flurried. Stiff jabs landed for Masvidal, but Melendez caught a kick and secured a standing guillotine choke. He used it to drag Masvidal to the mat momentarily and the fighters traded punches after returning to their feet. 10-9 Melendez.

Round 2:
Melendez kept Masvidal on the defensive early in round two with jabs and occasional right crosses. Masvidal landed a leg kick and a jab, but Melendez scored with a lead left hook. Melendez continued to jab and mix in kicks to the legs and body. Masvidal fired back with a right cross and a left to the body, but fell while throwing a jumping knee. Masvidal returned to his feet and the fighters exchanged jabs. More jabs and a right hand scored for Melendez as Masvidal struggled to counter in the final minute. 10-9 Melendez.

Round 3:
The opening minute of round three saw both fighters cautiously paw out with jabs and leg kicks before a combination from Masvidal set off an exchange of strikes. Both fighters landed to the head and body and Masvidal threw a flying knee. Melendez closed in with punches, but a counterpunch knocked his mouthpiece out. Time was briefly called to replace it and action resumed with leg kicks and punches from the champion.

Melendez backed Masvidal up with jabs and Masvidal began taunting. A left hook to the body and two stiff jabs connected for Masvidal and Melendez’s right eye began to swell up. Masvidal scored with a body kick and Melendez quickly answered back with a flurry of punches and a kick of his own. Masvidal missed with a spinning back kick just before the end of the close round. 10-9 Melendez.

Round 4:
Melendez landed a quick combination of punches and a leg kick in the fourth round and remained the aggressor in the fight. Jabs and a one-two also scored for Melendez and Masvidal offered little in return. The challenger finally landed a lead left hook, but Melendez countered nicely with a one-two and a right cross. The crowd grew restless with the lack of action.

Masvidal switched to southpaw and connected with a decent left hand. The fighters traded punches and briefly clinched. Masvidal landed a leg kick and Melendez began to pick up the pace with right hands and a combination in close. His eye continued to swell up, however, and Masvidal’s jab remained effective. Masvidal landed a grazing knee and a one-two before the bell. 10-9 Melendez.

Round 5:
Melendez landed a combination early in the fifth and final round and Masvidal responded with one of his own. He tried for another flying knee, but Melendez evaded and countered with a two-punch combo. Masvidal targeted the body with a left hook, but Melendez landed three consecutive one-twos as the challenger taunted. Melendez began to mix up his punches to the head and body and Masvidal looked to be frustrated.

Jabs landed for both fighters and Masvidal missed with a knee. Melendez continued to find a home for his overhand right, which he threw after setups with jabs. In the final 40 seconds, the fighters picked up the pace and traded power punches. Masvidal dragged Melendez to the mat very briefly and the round ended in a clinch. 10-9 Melendez.

Winner: Gilbert Melendez by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) after five rounds. He improves to 20-2-0 and remains the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion.


Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Championship

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs Hiroko “Cat’s Eye” Yamanaka

Round 1:
Santos dropped Yamanaka with the first three punches of the fight and quickly swarmed with more strikes on the ground before attempting a rear-naked choke. Yamanaka recovered and got back to her feet, but ate a powerful left hand. Santos landed a vicious one-two and Yamanaka wilted against the cage, then fell to the ground and the fight was stopped. Quick win for the champion in her long-awaited return.

Winner: Cristiane Santos by TKO (Punches) at 0:16 of round one. She improves to 11-1-0 and remains the Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion.


Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi vs Ovince St. Preux

Round 1:
St. Preux landed a solid body kick to open the fight and Mousasi countered with a kick to his lead leg. Mousasi flurried with punches and a body kick, but St. Preux stayed calm and landed another kick to the body of his own. Mousasi landed a combination and a leg kick. A lunging one-two backed St. Preux up and Mousasi remained the aggressor. He caught a kick and took St. Preux down, then struck from the top in half-guard. Mousasi postured up with elbows and power punches, then stood and continued to flurry.

St. Preux tried to cover up on the bottom and Mousasi passed to side control. More elbows scored for Mousasi and he moved to a top-side crucifix, but St. Preux scrambled out. Mousasi retained top position and landed an elbow from half-guard. He tried for Kimura and nearly got it, but St. Preux escaped and wound up on top. Mousasi swept and landed big punches and elbows, then returned to the crucifix position. 10-9 Mousasi, if not 10-8. Dominant opening round.

Round 2:
Mousasi scored a takedown early in round two and postured up with punches while pressing St. Preux against the cage. Mousasi settled into St. Preux’s half-guard and landed elbows. He continued to punch until the fighters were stood up in a questionable decision. St. Preux attempted a flying knee, but Mousasi caught it and tried for a takedown. He wound up on the bottom and St. Preux passed to side control. St. Preux landed elbows briefly, but Mousasi stood and stuffed a takedown. 10-9 Mousasi.

Round 3:
Mousasi clinched in the final round and took St. Preux down after eating a knee to the body. He landed short punches and tried to take St. Preux’s back. St. Preux spun into the clinch and scored a takedown of his own. He landed in side control and moved to mount, then unloaded with elbows. Mousasi scrambled out to his feet and took St. Preux’s back. He dragged him to the mat and landed punches from back control. Mousasi tried to set up a rear-naked choke and St. Preux defended with an elbow.

A scramble ensued and Mousasi briefly wound up on the bottom, but he reversed and pressed St. Preux against the corner post. Mousasi threw short left hands and attempted to transition to the back, but St. Preux prevented him from doing so. Mousasi went for another rear-naked choke and an armbar. Both failed, so he upkicked from the bottom. St. Preux kept him down and landed a short elbow. He secured a Brabo Choke just before the bell, but the fight came to an end. 10-9 St. Preux.

Winner: Gegard Mousasi by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds. He improves to 32-3-2.


“King” K.J. Noons vs Billy Evangelista

Round 1:
An exchange of kicks opened the fight and Noons scored a brief takedown. Evangelista quickly got back to his feet and landed a knee. He picked Noons up and slammed him down, then attempted a guillotine choke as Noons stood. Noons backed away, but Evangelista closed the distance again with knees. Noons countered with a series of punches to the body and prevented Evangelista from tripping him.

The fighters separated and Noons looked to establish his jab. Leg kicks landed for both and Noons followed with a solid knee. Evangelista landed an uppercut and a lead left hook that sent Noons off-balance. He moved in, but ate a stiff jab from Noons. A left hook missed for Evangelista and Noons made him pay with an uppercut and a follow-up hook of his own. Evangelista clinched for a takedown and landed two knees and an elbow. 10-9 Evangelista.

Round 2:
A jab and a leg kick landed for Evangelista to begin round two and Noons quickly responded with a kick of his own. Big right hands landed for both and Noons turned up the pace with a spinning back kick, backfist and an uppercut. He looked to target the body, but Evangelista cracked him with a counter left hook. Evangelista began to taunt, but Noons landed a nice one-two and snapped his head back with a right cross. He just missed with an uppercut.

Evangelista once again tagged Noons with a right hook, but Noons answered back with an uppercut and a lead left. Evangelista closed the distance and landed knees before Noons circled away. Both landned hooks and Evangelista followed up with leg kicks. He could not get Noons down, but landed a left hook. Noons jabbed and Evangelista threw a right hand over the top. Noons clinched late in the round, but time expired. Close round. 10-9 Noons.

Round 3:
Evangelista scored first in the final round with a one-two, but Noons drilled him with an uppercut and the fighters exchanged power punches. Both landed and Noons followed with a left hook behind the ear. A head kick sent Evangelista off-balance briefly, but he recovered quickly and clinched. He landed a knee and a right hand before Noons circled out. Another uppercut scored for Noons and he began to pick Evangelista apart with jabs. Noons used knees and looping punches in close to prevent Evangelista from clinching.

Evangelista fired off a series of punches of his own and finally got the clinch. He tried for a guillotine choke, but Noons reversed and tried for a takedown of his own. Evangelista locked on a power guillotine choke and dragged Noons to the mat, but lost it and Noons got back to his feet. Evangelista slowed way down as Noons jabbed in the final minute. Big punches were exchanged and Noons landed a left. A looping hook scored for Evangelista late in the close round. 10-9 Noons, barely. Fight could go to either man.

Winner: K.J. Noons by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds. He improves to 11-4-0.


  1. Next logical fight for Cyborg should be Ronda Rousey, as she is on a 7 win streak.

    But, if Rousey avoids fighting Cyborg at this point (which seems very likely), Yana Kunistkaya should be the next plausible opponent provided she wins her next match. And, no, I don’t see Yana being much of a threat either.