Strikeforce returned to Las Vegas for the second time since it was purchased by Zuffa for the eighteenth installment of its Challengers series.  The Pearl at the Palms was again the venue, and the night’s five-fight main card aired live on Showtime.  Headlining the card was a lightweight battle between hard-nosed wrestler Joe Duarte and Brazilian Jorge Gurgel.

Duarte nets decision over Gurgel

In the night’s main event, Joe Duarte used effective wrestling to neutralize the more productive striking of submission ace Jorge Gurgel.

Gurgel remained patient on the feet, unlike his past bouts where he was pulled into brawls, but failed to set up any takedowns.

Duarte, meanwhile, scored takedowns in each round, likely scoring with the judges, although he failed to mount much offense from the top position.

The final round was the most active, as Gurgel pushed the pace, landing with kick and punch combinations that had Duarte reeling.  Even with the push, Gurgel could not land the shot to finish the fight.

All three judges rewarded Duarte for his efforts, stretching his win streak to five fights.

James plays spoiler against Villefort

American Kickboxing Academy product Nate James spoiled the Strikeforce debut of highly-touted Brazilian middleweight Danillo Villefort.

Villefort used effective kicks to set up a clinch and used a textbook judo throw to obtain side control in the opening frame.  Showing an advanced ground game, the Brazilian moved to mount and then took the back, threatening with a rear-naked choke as the round ended.

For the remaining two rounds, Villefort looked noticeably tired, as James used combinations of crisp striking and takedowns to score with the judges.  Villefort scored with another takedown, but James reversed and moved to top position.  Villefort was unable to escape from the bottom.

The judges all gave James the decision, including one who questionably gave James the opening round.

Healy outworks Wisely

Veteran lightweight Pat “Bam Bam” Healy used a superior top game and strong submission defense to take a unanimous decision win over Eric Wisely.

Healy repeatedly stalked Wisely on the feet and took him down at will.  Wisely used an active guard from the bottom to keep the fight competitive.  Despite a number of armbar and leglock attempts, Wisely could not prevent Healy from imposing his will.

Each round ended with Healy in the top position, raining down punches and elbows.  The judges rewarded him for the effort with a clear-cut decision nod.

Rousey submits D’Alelio, but not without controversy

Bronze-medalist judoka Ronda Rousey continued her string of first-round armbar victories by dispatching of Sarah D’Alelio in just twenty-five seconds.

Rousey quickly closed the distance and looked for a throw, but D’Alelio tossed her aside.  Rousey smoothly transitioned to the armbar and immediately implored referee Steve Mazzagatti to stop the fight, which he did.  Although the position looked uncomfortable, D’Alelio did not physically tap.

In the post-fight interview, Rousey said she felt the elbow pop out and thought D’Alelio said tap.  D’Alelio claims it was simply an expression of pain and not a verbal submission.  Nevertheless, Rousey remains undefeated.

Mehmen survives massive cut, takes decision over Jones

In the opening fight of the broadcast, light heavyweights Roy Jones and Derrick Mehman faced off in a bloody war.

In the opening round, Jones landed a beautiful flying knee that hurt the American Top Team  product Mehmen.  After surviving the onslaught, Mehmen would land a big slam and finish the round from the top position.

The beginning of the second stanza saw Jones throw a spinning heel kick which connected with Mehmen above the left eye, opening a massive cut.  A doctor’s check briefly interrupted the round, but Mehmen was allowed to continue despite the blood.

The rest of the fight saw Mehmen use his wrestling to control Jones and prevent any further damage.  Even with the heavy bleeding, the judges gave Mehmen a unanimous decision victory.

  • Joe Duarte def. Jorge Gurgel by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
  • Nate James def. Danillo Villefort by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
  • Pat Healy def. Eric Wisely by unanimous decision.
  • Ronda Rousey def. Sarah D’Alelio by submission (armbar). Round 1, 0:25
  • Derrick Mehmen def. Roy Jones Jr. by unanimous decision.
  • Gian Villante def. Keith Berry by unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
  • Nah-Shon Burrell def. Lukasz Les by TKO (kick). Round 2, 2:09
  • Mike Bronzoulis def. Chad Leonhardt by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 1:30
  • Milton Vieira def. Sterling Ford by submission (brabo choke). Round 1, 4:49

Photo: Joe Duarte (Strikeforce)