Strikeforce Prelims: Cholish Kneebars TUF 12 Alum Stevens


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Marc Stevens (left) tapped to a John Cholish kneebar. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com


John Cholish earned the Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu team another impressive submission victory, as he tapped out Marc Stevens with a kneebar 3:57 into round two of their preliminary lightweight tilt at Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Silva” on Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.

Cholish opened with a flurry, throwing a Superman punch before landing a perfectly timed round kick that bloodied Stevens’ nose. The jiu-jitsu ace capitalized on the shot, taking down Stevens and working from top position. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 alum escaped the position but did not stay on his feet for long, as Cholish scored another takedown and worked ground-and-pound as the first round came to a close.

The second frame also belonged to the Renzo Gracie pupil, as Cholish took the fight to the floor once again, dropping punches from Stevens’ guard. Though Stevens briefly latched on to Cholish’s back during a scramble, the submission specialist quickly reversed the position, rolling through and isolating Stevens’ leg before torqueing a fight-ending kneebar.

Meanwhile, Igor Gracie displayed the beautiful technique for which his family is famous in his welterweight scrap with Jon Salgado, as he locked up a head-and-arm choke and relieved the Team Energy product of his consciousness in the second round.

After a brief exchange standing, Gracie charged forward and bullied Salgado against the cage. He dove for a single-leg takedown, turned it into a power double-leg, hoisted his foe above his head and slammed Salgado to the canvas. Salgado gave up his back almost immediately, and Gracie academically sank his hooks before locking up a body triangle. Though “Greco” managed to prevent the rear-naked choke, he delivered a blatantly illegal backward head butt to Gracie's face, eliciting only a warning from the referee.

Round two looked strikingly similar, with Gracie hitting a double-leg takedown and passing to mount. This time, however, there would be no escape for Salgado, who found himself in a vice-like arm-triangle that put him to sleep at 3:04 of the second round.

D. Mandel


Oropeza (top) lit Carlo-Clauss up.

Elsewhere, Sam Oropeza stopped Don Carlo-Clauss in an undercard welterweight duel, earning a technical knockout at 4:10 of the first frame.

Oropeza controlled the action early in round one, clinching and pressing his bearded opponent against the cage while working knees to the body and head. The Philadelphia Fight Factory product also used his length in the stand-up, whiffing on multiple high kicks before stopping a Carlo-Claus takedown. Though Carlo-Claus fought hard to secure a single-leg takedown, it was not to be. Oropeza secured the mount, taking his opponent’s back and unloading with fight-ending ground-and-pound.

A 145-pound contest between Josh LaBerge and Anthony Leone turned into a bloody mess, as the cage-side physician stopped the bout between rounds one and two after LaBerge disfigured Leone’s nose with a knee from the clinch.

Round one saw both fighters score with strikes, as LaBerge took the center of the cage while Leone used movement and picked his spots. After both men did some damage on their feet, Leone shot for a takedown. After stuffing the attempt, LaBerge buckled his opponent with a massive knee that smashed the WEC veteran’s nose and ultimately spelled doom for Leone.

Though the Team Bombsquad product scored a takedown to end the frame, the doctor ruled between rounds that he could not continue due to his broken nose. LaBerge, a Bellator Fighting Championships alum, has rattled off six consecutive victories.

In the opener, AMA Fight Club product Jason McLean earned a split decision victory over Pellegrino MMA representative Kevin Roddy in their preliminary featherweight contest. After three close rounds of back-and-forth action, McLean was awarded the split verdict, 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29. McLean, a Ring of Combat veteran, has posted four wins in five appearances.

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