Nothing seems to rattle Luke
Rockhold, not even five hard rounds with Tim
Rockhold (10-1, 9-0 Strikeforce) stalked and struck his way to
victory, as he retained the Strikeforce middleweight championship
with a unanimous decision over Kennedy in the Strikeforce “Rockhold
vs. Kennedy” headliner on Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland,
Ore. All three cageside judges sided with Rockhold by identical
“The five-round wars suck, but hard work pays off,” Rockhold said.
“I controlled the pace, I think. I stalked him most of the time and
made him keep backing up. I defended all his takedowns, for the
most part, and got a couple of my own.”
Controlling the center of the cage, the longer and taller champion
backed up Kennedy throughout the grueling 25-minute bout. The
challenger seemed reluctant to unleash more than one punch at a
time, and it cost him. Rockhold countered effectively with straight
lefts and right hooks, more than held his own in the clinch and
turned away a majority of Kennedy’s takedown bids.
Rockhold connected on the most significant strike of the match in
the fourth round, when he planted Kennedy with a right hand,
followed him to the canvas and mounted him briefly. Kennedy (14-4,
5-2 Strikeforce) freed himself from the American Kickboxing Academy
ace’s clutches but did nothing to push the champion outside of his
comfort zone. Rockhold cruised from there.
“I feel good, but I think I could have let some combinations go,”
he said. “I loaded up a lot and tried to head hunt. He’s got some
funky strikes. They’re unorthodox, and it’s hard to read sometimes
when you know he’s going to shoot.
“Kennedy is a great wrestler; he’s so tenacious,” Rockhold added.
“What he lacks in technique, he makes up for in his heart and
desire. He just keeps coming. I knew I couldn’t get stale for a
Marquardt Buries Woodley, Becomes Welterweight Champion
Former King of Pancrase and
Ultimate Fighting Championship title contender Nate
Marquardt dispatched the previously unbeaten Tyron
Woodley with a series of savage fourth-round strikes against
the cage to capture the vacant Strikeforce
welterweight championship in the co-main event. Woodley met his end
1:39 into round four.
Marquardt (32-10-2, 1-0 Strikeforce) was the superior fighter from
the start, as he blasted the two-time NCAA All-American wrestler
with right hands throughout the bout. Woodley dropped the
33-year-old Grudge Training Center fighter with an overhand right
of his own in the third round, trailed him to the mat and let loose
with some ground-and-pound. Marquardt kept his composure, with
experience and toughness digging him out of danger. By the end of
the frame, Woodley was a spent force.
That set the stage for the finish. Marquardt pinned Woodley on the
cage, uncorked three violent standing elbows and sealed it with a
left hook and vicious right uppercut. Woodley (10-1, 8-1
Strikeforce) collapsed, a beaten man for the first time.
“He was out,” said Marquardt, who had not competed in more than a
year. “There’s no need for more.”
Gracie Dominates Jardine in Middleweight Debut
Ten-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion
Gracie ran a grappling clinic on Keith
Jardine in his middleweight debut, as he captured a unanimous
decision from the Jackson’s
Mixed Martial Arts staple. All three judges scored it for
Gracie (5-1, 2-1 Strikeforce) by 29-27, 30-27 and 30-26 counts.
Gracie File Photo
Gracie dominated on the floor.
Gracie controlled the first two rounds. In the first, he struck for
a pair of takedowns, mounted Jardine and opened a pair of cuts near
his adversary’s left eye with a series of elbow strikes. The scene
repeated itself in round two, but Gracie also transitioned to
Jardine’s back, trapped him in a body triangle and threatened him
with chokes. Blood was everywhere -- even on the soles of their
feet -- but “The Dean of Mean” denied the decorated Brazilian
jiu-jitsu black belt’s advances and pushed the fight deeper.
Jardine (17-11-2, 0-2-1 Strikeforce) landed his most significant
blow of the bout in the third round, when he wobbled Gracie with a
stout right uppercut. However, he failed to follow it up with
anything meaningful and let the rapidly fatiguing Gracie off the
hook. The leg and body kicks for which Jardine has become known
were virtually non-existent during the 15-minute encounter.
“I’m very happy. I was able to do my game plan,” Gracie said. “At
one point, it got too slippery. His blood: it soaked me all over,
and I couldn’t stay on top of him. I think the striking is what
kept me stable on top. The third round, I got quite tired, but I
was able to use my long reach and keep him away.”
Larkin Outduels UFC Veteran Lawler
Larkin posted the most significant victory of his career, as he
took a unanimous decision from former EliteXC
Lawler in a middleweight showcase. All three cageside judges
scored it the same: 30-27 for the unbeaten Larkin (13-0, 4-0
Lawler (19-9, 3-5 Strikeforce) landed a short right hand to the
temple and had the Californian reeling in the first round, but his
follow-up barrage did not net him the desired finish. Larkin
recovered, bounced back later in the period and did some exquisite
work in close quarters with knees, punches and elbows.
For much of the rest of the bout, Lawler’s big guns remained
holstered. Larkin stepped up his attack with some more
multi-faceted striking, as he cut his opponent on the top of the
head with a grazing kick in the second round. Blood streamed down
Lawler’s face. Nothing changed down the stretch, and Larkin put an
exclamation point on the win with three vicious standing elbows
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