Strikeforce returned on Saturday to the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego for a solid night of fights featuring two title bouts. Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez looked to defend his belt against Jorge Masvidal, while women’s featherweight title holder Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos returned from a long layoff to defend against Hiroko Yamanaka. The event was televised live on Showtime.

Melendez outpoints Masvidal to retain title

One of the top-ranked fighters in the world stepped back in the cage on Saturday as Gilbert Melendez was able to successfully defend his Strikeforce lightweight championship against Jorge Masvidal.

From the opening bell, the feeling was that Melendez was going to take control of this fight and he did just that.

Rounds one and two were more of a feeling out process, but once “El Nino” got a feel of things, his dominance continued, as he was able to control where the action went. Masvidal did however land some strikes on the champion, but not enough to give him either round.

In the third, Melendez continued to come forward, forcing Masvidal to retreat. Masvidal is a solid boxer, but the style and aggressiveness of Melendez was just too much for the 27-year-old to handle.

As the fight went into the championship rounds, both men held their stamina, but once again it was Melendez who was able to land and throw more strikes. The champion would throw multiple shots, while the challenger Masvidal would just look to counterstrike. Masvidal put up a good fight, but it just wasn’t enough to dethrone the champ.

Two judges scored the fight 50-45, while the other saw it 49-46, all for the winner by unanimous decision, Gilbert Melendez.

“Cyborg” makes quick work of Yamanaka; Defends belt in just 16 seconds

Cristiane Santos returned to the cage after an 18-month layoff, but did not show any ring rust whatsoever as she took care of Hiroko Yamanaka in just 16 seconds.

Yamanaka, who had previously made a run while fighting in Japan, drew the worst possible opponent to face in her Strikeforce debut.

The Japanese fighter charged at Santos at the start of the fight and threw her first, and only, punches in the fight. “Cyborg” wasn’t having none of it, however, and charged back, forcing Yamanaka to back pedal to the fence. From that point, the fight was over as the champion landed crushing shots to force the stoppage.

Mousasi decisions St. Preux

In a light heavyweight battle, Gegard Mousasi proved to be too much of a step-up in competition for Ovince St. Preux as the former Tennessee football player fell by decision.

In the opening minutes, it was the striking of Mousasi that proved to be a problem for St. Preux, and it didn’t get any better from there. Once the fight hit the mat early on, it was the veteran who was able to stay on top the longest.

Mousasi didn’t waste time in taking “OSP” down again in round two, and was able to keep him there for the remainder of the round until the referee stood them up. St. Preux did show good grappling defense once the fight hit the mat again, but Mousasi had done too much damage already to take two rounds in the books.

St. Preux didn’t quit trying, however, and came back to win round three. “OSP” was able to land a takedown of his own and even almost force Mousasi to tap in the final seconds, but Mousasi was saved by the bell to end the contest.

Mousasi takes two rounds out of three to earn the unanimous decision.

Noons edges out Evangelista by decision

In what was the closest fight on the card, K.J. Noons was able to take home a much-needed unanimous decision win over Billy Evangelista, but it was closer than the scorecards make it appear.

Evangelista came in and stole round one early by landing a multiple array of strikes to Noons to rack up points on the scorecards.

Round two was a very close round, but the advantage slightly went to Noons as he was able to get his striking down and control the cage in all areas.

Both men were winded coming into the third, but were still able to put a show for the fans in San Diego. Noons threw weak shots, but still connected on most of them and remained loose of his feet to avoid what Evangelista had to offer.

The scorecards all came back 29-28 with the winner by unanimous decision, K.J. Noons.

Main Card Results

Gilbert Melendez def. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos def. Hiroko Yamanaka by TKO (punches). Round 1, 0:16

Gegard Mousasi def. Ovince St. Preux by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

K.J. Noons def. Billy Evangelista by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Undercard Results

Caros Fodor def. Justin Wilcox by knockout (punches). Round 1, 0:13

Roger Bowling def. Jerron Peoples by knockout (punches). Round 1, 0:42

Devin Cole def. Gabriel Salinas-Jones by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Eddie Mendez def. Fernando Gonzalez by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)

Herman Terrado def. Chris Brown by submission (armbar). Round 3, 4:05

Photo: Gilbert Melendez (above) took care of business against Jorge Masvidal (Sherdog)