To kick off the new year, Showtime offered a special to sports fans who did not already have the channel, by having a free preview weekend. Headlining the preview was hard-hitting MMA action as Strikeforce put on a great night of fights featuring Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold defending his title against UFC veteran “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine. Another eight fights rounded out the card, with the undercard being broadcast on Showtime Extreme and the main card televised on Showtime.

Rockhold defends title over “The Dean of Mean,” Eyes UFC contenders

Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold proved that his rise to the top was no fluke by knocking out one of the toughest veterans in the sport in Keith Jardine.

The key for Jardine in this fight was to make the fight a brawl and force Rockhold to stand with him. Jardine looked to land his overhand right early on, but Rockhold knew better and was prepared.

Rockhold landed with a right hand of his own on Jardine with a minute to go and pounced on him, raining down numerous shots and eventually forcing the referee to stop the fight.

Now with a successful title defense on his record against a quality opponent, Rockhold stated that he is open to the idea of bringing over a UFC middleweight contender to challenge him.

Lawler gets back on track, Knocks out Amagov

After going 1-3 in his last four fights, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler was able to go back to his winning ways with an impressive knockout victory over fellow striker Adlan Amagov.

About a minute into the fight, Amagov landed an illegal knee to the head of his grounded opponent Lawler, causing the Russian to have a point deducted.

But the illegal strike did not affect Lawler, however, and he landed a knee of his own, except this one was legal. “Ruthless” charged at Amagov and grazed him with a flying knee that allowed Lawler to take his back and land a couple punches to force a stoppage.

Lawler has now put himself back into the mix at 185 pounds with this statement win.

“King Mo” runs through Larkin

In a battle of two big, strong wrestlers, veteran “King Mo” Lawal proved that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the light heavyweight division by dominating Lorenz Larkin.

It appeared at first that Lawal was going to land a takedown and only control his opponent on the ground, but the former champion has some power in his hands as well.

Lawal did control his opponent in the opening round, but in the second, he was going for the finish and got it at 1:32 by landing multiple ground-and-pound shots that earned him the TKO victory.

With the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship currently vacant, “King Mo” will be one of the favorites to get a chance at being crowned champion once again.

Woodley pulls out split decision over Mein

Two of Strikeforce’s rising stars stepped into the cage, as wrestler Tyron Woodley controlled his opponent Jordan Mein just enough to earn him a split decision win.

MMA fans knew coming in that Woodley was going to look to take the fight to the ground early on, and he did just that. Woodley has been criticized numerous times for putting on “boring fights,” but that’s his gameplan to control his opponents for all three rounds to earn a decision.

In this fight, the same thing occurred, but Mein almost pulled it out by doing enough striking to convince one judge to award him the fight. But majority rules and Woodley walked out of the booing crowd with a split decision victory.

Saffiedine edges out Stinson

In what was the best fight of the night in many eyes, mine included, Tarec Saffiedine and Tyler Stinson battled in a bloody fight that was won by Saffiedine by a close margin.

The striking game of Stinson was a big factor in the first round that won him the stanza, but Saffiedine came out in the second and changed up his gameplan.

Saffiedine was able to control Stinson in the final two rounds, allowing him to pull out the win.

Main Card Results
  • Luke Rockhold def. Keith Jardine by TKO (punches). Round 1, 4:26
  • Robbie Lawler def. Adlan Amagov by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 1:48
  • Muhammed Lawal def. Lorenz Larkin by TKO (punches). Round 2, 1:32
  • Tyron Woodley def. Jordan Mein by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Tarec Saffiedine def. Tyler Stinson by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Undercard Results
  • Nah-Shon Burrell def. James Terry by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Gian Villante def. Trevor Smith by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 1:05
  • Ricky Legere def. Chris Spang by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Estevan Payan def. Alonzo Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Photo: Luke Rockhold (above) was too much for Keith Jardine Saturday in Las Vegas (Sherdog)