Strike Force: Fedor vs. Rogers review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on January 8, 2010, 3:37 PM
Strike Force: Fedor vs. Rogers
-First thing to note then Ė this was technically a ďco-promotedĒ event between Strike Force and M-1 Global, but letís be honest and get this out of the way Ė thatís absolute bullshit. M-1 are a bunch of crooks who provide two fighters (Fedor Emelianenko and Gegard Mousasi) and nothing else. The announcers are Strike Force guys, the cage is Strike Forceís, Scott Cokerís the promoter of the event. I mean look at it like this Ė Mike Swick and Cain Velasquez both fought on UFC 99, but that wasnít billed as ďUFC and American Kickboxing Academy presentĒ, was it? In all honesty it surprises me that a guy like Coker, who seems smart and down-to-earth, would get involved with shysters like that, but I wonder if it was a decision made more by the Showtime executives in order to get back onto CBS.
-Oh, and lest we forget this was the first Strike Force card on CBS prime-time, and the first MMA card to be aired on CBS since the disastrous Elite XC: Heat show that saw Kimbo Slice knocked out by Seth Petruzelli, the event that would signal the death knell for that promotion.
-Your hosts are Gus Johnson, Mauro Renallo and Frank Shamrock.
Really good opener here. Silva had been fighting in Japan since a controversial positive test for steroids on the final Elite XC show, but heíd always denied using them and this was his first fight back from the suspension. Heís a guy who Iíve always thought could be a potential top ten contender at HW, ever since he was fighting in Cage Warriors really early in his career, and this was definitely the toughest test for him thus far, facing a perennial contender in Werdum who looked to be back to form in his Strike Force debut, beating Mike Kyle. My pick was Silva, and I was hoping this could set up a fight with Fedor or Alistair Overeem in 2010.
Tale of the tape tells us Werdumís ďbulkedĒ back up to 242lbs, from his 228lbs against Mike Kyle in August Ė where he looked fantastic I might add. Here he looks like the flabby Werdum from his UFC days. Someone needs to get this guy a nutritionist, and stat. Whatís the dude who helped Ken Shamrock coach on TUF 3 doing? Iím sure heíd help Werdum bulk up properly if thatís what heís trying to do. Note: That was a joke.
Round One begins and they press before Silva ducks a high kick. Good leg kick from Bigfoot and then he hurts Werdum coming forward with a short left hook. Werdum bulls inside, but eats some more punches that drop him and Silva pounces, looking to finish! Werdum manages to kick him away, but Silva drops back down and lands some more heavy shots. Werdum survives and looks to take Bigfoot down, but Silvaís having none of it and stuffs it before forcing Werdum to his feet. Werdum looks cautious now and heís reaching forward too which is risky. Clinch takedown is easily stuffed by Bigfoot and he waves Werdum to his feet. Good jab and leg kick from Silva. Beautiful one-two lands for Werdum and snaps Silvaís head back, but Bigfoot doesnít look shaken and they clinch. Werdum forces him into the cage, but he canít get Silva down and Bigfoot breaks with a heavy elbow. High kick glances off Silvaís shoulder and he fires back with a knee before they trade off with some punches. Couple of high kicks miss for Werdum and Silva even drops his hands and walks off. Good uppercut from Silva and he clinches, forcing Werdum into the cage. Big elbow from Silva drops Werdum onto all fours and he tries a takedown before dropping to his back, but Silva lands some punches and then forces him to his feet as the bell sounds. Great round for Antonio Silva, 10-9.
Second round and Werdum comes forward swinging, but he gets too wild and eats a left that drops him again. Werdum goes to his back, but Silvaís having none of that and he avoids a takedown before standing over the BJJ expert. Silva looks to drop some punches over the top, but canít get past Werdumís legs and then he surprisingly follows him down to the ground. Instant sweep follows, putting Werdum on top in half-guard. Good punches and hammer fists from the top from Werdum. Why Silva followed him down I donít know. No sooner have I said that than Silva escapes to his feet off a scramble, only to eat a knee as the fighters separate. Pair of good legs kicks from Werdum before Silva clinches and forces him into the cage. Werdum reverses him as the crowd begin to get a little restless. Referee calls for a break and Silva has noticeably slowed down at this stage. Werdum clinches again and forces him back into the fence, and this time he secures a single leg and gets the big man on his back in half-guard. He works to pass the guard and then slips into side mount, but Silva does an excellent job of scrambling free. He leaves a leg out and Werdum goes for a kneebar, but he canít hold onto it and Silva slips into top position as the round comes to an end. Better round for Werdum and Iíd score it for him, 10-9, so itís even going into the third.
Round Three begins and Werdum pushes forward and lands a leg kick. Silva tries a lead uppercut but misses this time and it seems that Werdum is now the aggressor. He clinches and forces Silva backwards, where he lands some knees to the legs. Silva breaks, but almost slips to the ground and now he looks really tired. Nice leg kick from Werdum, and then he misses an overhand right before hitting a single leg. Silva turtles up, giving his back, and he takes some punches to the side of the head before Werdum looks to get his hooks in. Silva manages to scramble to his feet, but Werdum still has him clinched against the cage before Silva breaks and opens up with a flurry. Werdum manages to land a knee though to slow him down, and then he clinches and looks for another takedown. This time Silva stuffs it, but he eats some good knees from the clinch before Werdum drops for another single leg. Bigfoot stuffs it again and lands a couple of punches, but the snap on them seems to be gone and Werdum lands with another knee. Clinch from Werdum and a big knee looks to have Silva hurt, and now Werdum drags him to the ground and takes the back again, landing with some more punches. This fight is slipping away from Silva swiftly. He ends up on his back in half-guard, where he manages to block a full mount, but takes some hammer fists. Fight ends shortly thereafter. I have this 29-28 for Werdum.
-We cut backstage for an interview with Fedorís trainer and his translator. Nothing to note if Iím honest.
Back to the cage now and Werdum takes the decision, 29-28. Fight was really good, particularly for a Heavyweight one, but in a way both men were a bit disappointing; Werdum because if heíd been in decent shape, he probably couldíve finished it, but having said that it was a good win for him anyway. Silva on the other hand had an unbelievable opening round but then completely ran out of steam; whether it was the fact that it was his most difficult opponent or a cardio issue or what, I donít know, but he clearly slowed down a ton in the second and third round and pretty much threw the fight away. Still, who am I to complain, for a Heavyweight fight it was excellent as neither guy looked sloppy for a moment and they threw some really hard shots and showed skill on the ground too. Better than say, Kimbo-Thompson, at any rate!
This fight wouldíve taken place on DREAM 11 as part of the Super Hulk tournament originally, but Mousasi pulled out with injury and so Strike Force put it together here, as at this point it was probably the best 205lbs fight that anyone couldíve put on outside the UFC. As this was the first Strike Force CBS card though, due to time constraints this was annoyingly a non-title fight. I wouldíve figured Strike Force would be smarter than that when you consider some of the shitty situations that happened in Japan with the non-title fights, but obviously not. Still, I was excited for the fight and thought while Mousasi had the edge in technique and cardio, the sheer power that Sokoudjou possesses makes him a threat to anyone.
We get underway and Mousasi pops him with a couple of jabs before Sokoudjou comes back with a left hand and a hard leg kick. The African bounces around on the outside and then lands a left hook to the body, but Mousasi looks calm and keeps stalking forward. Good leg kick from Mousasi. Follow-up kick lands low though and referee David Smith calls time before restarting them. Right away Sokoudjou takes another low blow, but he recovers quickly. Mousasi keeps pushing forward, but he eats a couple of left hands from Sokoudjou and then avoids a takedown. Sokoudjouís actually looking much more composed than usual here. Good leg kick lands for him. Mousasi comes back with one of his own, and he follows with some punches that have Sokoudjou covering up. Beautiful judo throw from the African though and Mousasi ends up on his back in half-guard. Sokoudjou tries for a guillotine, but Mousasi rolls him over with a reversal and gets into side mount. He looks to control an arm, but an explosion allows Sokoudjou to escape to his feet and he trips Mousasi down into the fence! Mousasi still looks calm though and he works to his feet, freeing himself from a guillotine attempt. Mousasi forces the African into the cage and then tries a throw of his own, but Sokoudjou reverses on the way down and takes top position. This might be the first time heís ever shown that judo background actually. He stands over Mousasi, but Gegard uses a foot sweep to knock him down and then goes into the guard with punches as the round ends. Really entertaining opening round. Not sure how Iíd score it actually, though at a push Iíd lean towards Sokoudjou.
Into the 2nd and Mousasi pushes forward, landing a front kick to the body before clinching. Sokoudjou looks to muscle him down again, but Gegard stuffs it and lands a heavy knee to the body en route to forcing him into the cage. Mousasi lands with some knees to the thighs as Sokoudjou looks to be slowing down as is the norm with him. Mousasi really begins to work him over from the clinch, flurrying with punches as Sokoudjou looks like heís wilting a little. Trip from Mousasi brings the African down, but he hits a reversal on the way down and lands in half-guard. From here he looks exhausted though and doesnít really do much in the way of offense. Mousasi rolls for a kimura and uses it to reverse position, getting a takedown of his own into the Africanís guard. From there Gegard goes to work with punches and hammer fists, really beginning to maul Sokoudjou, and the African begins to cover up as referee David Smithís seen enough and stops it there.
Another very good fight even if it ceased to be competitive once it got into the third round. Sokoudjou once again fought incredibly in the first round before just shutting down in the second, and physically he might be the most dangerous guy in the world at 205lbs. If he could sort the problem of his slowdowns out, then the sky is the limit for him, but heís been doing it now for like two and a half years and it doesnít seem to be changing. Mousasi on the other hand is a truly incredible fighter. The African Assassin put him under a lot of pressure in the opening round and he just soaked it right up, never looked fazed for a second, and then took over in the second round and mauled the guy. The only pity is that heís in Strike Force when all the real 205lbs talent is in the UFC. Really the only guy left for him to fight outside there (assuming Dan Henderson stays at 185lbs) is King Mo, and heís more a prospect ala Jon Jones than a true contender at the minute. Iíd hope Mousasi would go to the UFC in the future, but being an M-1 guy that might be false hope.
Looking back, Iím a little confused as to why this ended up being a title fight. Cung Le was the Strike Force Middleweight Champion since beating Frank Shamrock in early 2008, and while he hadnít defended the title since then due to acting commitments, he ended up returning to Strike Force in December. Why not just hold off on stripping him of the belt if he was coming back a month later anyway? I mean sure, I understand them wanting to have a title fight on the first CBS card, but why not just use Mousasi-Sokoudjou in that spot?
Anyway, ignoring that tangent for now (Iím sure there was a reason Iím forgetting about or missed), Shields had earned his shot at the title by beating former Elite XC MW champ Robbie Lawler in June, while Mayhem, well, Iím not sure as he hadnít won in well over a year, but Iíll let that fly because itís Mayhem and I love the guy. General consensus was that Shields, being the better straight BJJ guy, would be able to out-grapple Mayhem for the win, but personally I thought Mayhem would give Shields more problems than most anticipated because heís naturally much bigger and had the advantage standing too.
Classic ring entrance for Mayhem, as he walks out wearing a white robe like a Jesus Christ wannabe before coming down the ramp surrounded by cheerleaders. This guy rules, sorry. And during Shieldsí entrance, Gus Johnson tells us that Jake was furious with the way the announcers acted during his fight with Robbie Lawler, and yeah, Iíd agree with Jake there Ė they sucked bad in that fight. Really bad.
First round begins and Mayhem pops him with a right hand, but Shields quickly shoots in and gets a double leg, pinning Miller into the fence. Mayhem looks calm as Shields looks to work to a better position, and he ends up straightening Millerís leg out in a half-guard variation. Shields works and ends up taking Mayhemís back, where he lands some punches as Miller tries to roll over into mount. Frank Shamrock claims he doesnít see Shields doing a thing from this position Ė no idea why he seemingly dislikes Jake so much, but heís right as Mayhem bucks and rolls to his feet. Good escape there. Mayhem backs up and sprawls to avoid a takedown, but Shields keeps coming and gets him down against the fence again. Shields looks to work for another mount as Mayhem almost seems nonchalant, sitting up against the cage. Crowd begin to boo as the action slows down tremendously, with Shields peppering him with some punches. Miller manages to escape to his feet, and from there he lifts Shields up and gets a big slam to guard! Mayhem looks to stack up to deliver some punches, but he misses a right and Shields hits a reversal and they come to their feet. Knee from Miller in the clinch and then he works and takes Shieldsí back, looking for a suplex, but he canít quite get it and ends up hopping onto the back. Jake shakes him off so Miller hits the suplex and then turns into side mount. Couple of decent left hands land for Mayhem as the round ends. Close round to score actually Ė Iím going 10-10 based on both men getting dominant positions but doing little with them.
Round Two gets underway and Miller lands a left hook into the clinch, but Shields reverses position and pushes Mayhem into the fence. They exchange some knees to the body and then Mayhem works to the back again and tries to pull him down, but Shields scrambles and ends up coming out on top, managing to almost take Mayhemís back as they roll like a pretzel. Great shift from Shields puts him in full mount, but as he looks to land with punches Mayhem pushes off the cage with his feet and flips free. Quick takedown from Shields allows him to take the back again as Mayhem turtles up, and he gets both hooks in and looks to secure a choke as Mayhem squirms. He canít get the choke and Miller almost scrambles free, but winds up giving his back again as he tries to escape. This is a high-level grappling match. Suddenly Shields ends up in a wild position, looking to set up a banana split submission Ė which Iíve seen Mayhem use before! Ė but Miller manages to wriggle out and ends up in side mount before he gets half-guard back. Mount from Shields again and he begins to land punches as Miller gives his back, and for a moment it looks like he has the choke sunk, but of course Mayhem defends again and escapes. Awesome reversal from Miller allows him into top position in guard, but Shields goes for a heel hook. He canít get it though and Miller throws some punches into the guard before looking to work into a mount of his own right before the bell. 10-9 Shields but that was a hell of a round.
Third round and Mayhem gets a clinch and a quick bodylock takedown to side mount. Shields immediately reverses back to his feet though and now looks for a single leg, getting it and bringing Mayhem down to half-guard. Side mount for Shields and he controls Miller with the odd strike before mounting. Quick hip escape from Mayhem allows him to get half-guard back right away though. Shields continues to land some punches, mainly to the body, and then mounts again. Punches land from the mount before Mayhem gives his back, and then he turns to mount again where he takes some more shots. Mayhem gives his back once more and then uses a monkey-roll to escape into Jakeís guard. Pass from Miller puts him in half-guard, but Shields reverses and works to his feet. Mayhem retreats...but then lands a glancing spinning backfist as Shields grabs him for a clinch. They exchange knees before referee John McCarthy calls time to fix some loose tape on Mayhemís glove. They restart inside the clinch again before Shields secures a takedown and plants Mayhem seated by the fence again. Half-guard for Mayhem and Shields doesnít really do much with it, and now the crowd boo before Miller hits a reversal and escapes a guillotine. They scramble to their feet and Shields ends up with a bodylock, which he turns into a single and gets a takedown. Miller pops free though and looks to use the momentum to take Jakeís back, which he does, hooking in a body triangle for good measure! With seconds remaining Mayhem manages to SINK THE CHOKE....but Shields ends up being saved by the bell! Holy fuck. This is an awesome fight. Shields dominated that round though, despite the ending, so it has to go his way 10-9.
Weíre into the fourth round now. Right hand lands for Mayhem coming forward...but Shields gets a takedown off, well, something. Iím not sure because my DVD jumped. And, itís now not working no matter what I try. Alright, so for the first time ever in these reviews Iím skipping a round. The DVD disc is clearly fucked and I canít watch it for love or money. What do you do in a shitty situation like this? Borrow Meltzerís live play-by-play of course. I hope he doesnít mind.
ďShields dominated the round with his wrestling and grappling. He controlled the positioning virtually the entire round. Shields didnít do any real damage but Miller didnít do anything, 39-37 Shields so Miller needs a finish.Ē
Okay, so if Shields took that round then I have it 40-37 for him going into the fifth. Fifth round begins and Shields closes the distance quickly and looks to get a takedown, landing some knees before securing a single leg. Miller scrambles as they hit the ground, but Shields is clearly the better grappler and he manages to take the back with one hook as Mayhem stands. Miller frees the hook so Shields turns into him and looks to bring him down using a double leg. Into half-guard for Jake before he works his way into full mount again. Mayhem gives his back again and this time Shields locks up the body triangle and lands some punches. He still canít sink the choke though and a reversal from Miller enables him to get on top and then get a guillotine and pull guard. Shields is having none of that though, and he slips free and ends up in half-guard, which he looks to pass again. Weíve got less than a minute to go now and Shields is about to mount him again. Miller manages to work to his feet, but another drag-down gets Shields the top position again, and despite Miller exploding to his feet and landing a body kick, the fight comes to an end.
I have this 50-46 for Jake Shields. Judges have it a unanimous decision, 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 for Shields, your NEW Strike Force Middleweight Champion. Crowd boo and I have no idea why. Some people online called this a boring fight but I canít agree Ė the grappling exchanges here were absolutely fantastic and despite Mayhem hitting some slick reversals, Shieldsí guard passing game was pretty incredible as he took mount basically at will, even if Mayhem came closer to finishing the fight with the choke in the third. For me that was one of the most engaging five-rounders Iíve seen in some time, fuck the haters.
As for the future, I donít think Shields at 185lbs permanently is a good idea for him. At 170lbs heís undoubtedly a fantastic fighter, although being outside the UFC he was always the big fish in the small pond, as Iíd comfortably take GSP, Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck to beat him. At 185lbs though where the talent is more spread out over the promotions, I mean sure, he shut out Mayhem here, but Mayhem stylistically is a good fight for him. What happens when he runs into a better grappler who happens to be larger and stronger too (Jacare)? Or a guy like Dan Henderson who can stuff the takedown and is light years beyond him in terms of striking? If Iím Shields, I vacate that title ASAP and go back to 170lbs where he can take a couple more wins over opponents who match up well with him and provide ďnameĒ value (maybe Marius Zaromskis or Jay Hieron or something) before going to the UFC where the real competition at 170lbs is.
And so after all the rumors and speculation surrounding Fedor going to the UFC, we ended up with this Ė another rotten ďco-promotionĒ and another fight with a guy who, while considered a dangerous fighter, wasnít the best opponent for a legend like Fedor to be facing at this stage in his career. Thatíd be Brock Lesnar in the UFC of course, but thatíd mean M-1 Global backing down on their ludicrous demands and so weíll probably never see that. Enough of that though, because I said Iíd avoid talking about M-1, remember?
So, Rogers had earned this shot by beating Andrei Arlovski in June, and while that was undoubtedly a big win for him, really he knocked Andrei out in seconds and prior to that, outside of knockout power heíd never really shown anything resembling a well-rounded game. Personally, with Fedor looking just as unstoppable as ever in his fights with Tim Sylvia and Arlovski, I saw this as a likely squash match for the Russian to introduce himself to Strike Force, with Rogers having the proverbial puncherís chance.
Crowd surprisingly seem behind Fedor, which shocks the hell out of me. I thought they wouldíve embraced the underdog story of Rogers, especially given that Fedorís a foreigner. Staredown shows Rogers is far, far larger than Fedor although a lot of his mass looks pointless to me. Heís 265lbs here and I think his frame would be suited to get down to maybe 245lbs.
We get underway and they circle around as finally, FINALLY a portion of the crowd begin the ďUSA!Ē chant. Hooray for jingoism! Pair of wild hooks miss for Fedor and Rogers gets off first with a jab. Looks like the first jab actually bloodied Fedorís nose, too. THE RUSSIAN IS CUT!~! Sorry. Overhand right lands for Fedor and then he tosses Rogers to the ground, landing in side mount. Rogers quickly scrambles to his feet though, grabbing a bodylock and forcing Fedor into the fence as his nose pours with blood. Little happens as Rogers simply holds him against the cage, before Fedor breaks off and then checks his nose. Suddenly a MASSIVE LEFT HAND from the Russian wobbles Rogers, and he desperately tries to grab Fedor, who uses the momentum against him and gets on top, landing some short punches. Half-guard for Rogers but Fedor looks to work for a kimura...but Rogers turns him over and escapes into Fedorís guard! Crowd go APESHIT as Rogers suddenly goes postal, dropping some big punches before Fedor turns his hips for an armbar like in his first fight with Mark Coleman. Rogers manages to avoid, but loses position and ends up on all fours, looking exhausted. Fedorís face is a MESS now, but he lands some punches and gets back on top, and you know, suddenly those excess twenty pounds on Rogers must be feeling pretty bad. Arm triangle attempt from Fedor from the half-guard, but Rogers manages to avoid it. Rogers escapes to full guard and then kicks Fedor off, but he canít get back to his feet as Fedor tries a leaping right hand into the guard, and the round ends with Brett on his back. Well, that was a hell of a round in the end. Round goes to Fedor for me, 10-9, as despite Rogers doing cosmetic damage, Fedor had him genuinely hurt there for a while.
Into the 2nd, and Rogers circles off as Fedor misses a couple of his wild hooks. Overhand right allows Fedor to close the distance and clinch, and then Fedor breaks off and hits him with a flurry that Rogers covers up to avoid. Rogers now gets a clinch and pushes Fedor into the cage. They break off and now Rogers is GASSED, even putting his hands on his hips for a second. Suddenly a MASSIVE OVERHAND RIGHT lands for Fedor and PUTS ROGERS DOWN! Good God. Rogers is DONE and a few more shots on the ground end things.
Classic Fedor. One of the most brutal knockouts of 2009, up there with stuff like Fedorís earlier knockout of Andrei Arlovski. Post-fight sees a ridiculous entourage come into the cage to congratulate Fedor, absolutely filling it. I donít think Iíve ever seen such a team of hangers-on in MMA before Ė itís almost Tyson-esque in fact. Ludicrous. Still, you canít fault the dudeís fighting skill. Itís odd in a way as even though this was a super-exciting fight, we didnít actually learn anything new about Fedor Ė he still cuts easily, he still throws looping power hooks that shouldnít land but do, and he still takes heavy shots without flinching or showing any emotion like heís a cyborg. I mean, Iíd still rather see him fight Lesnar in the UFC but I guess Fedor in Strike Force is fine, especially if he fights Overeem and Werdum for his next two fights (can we just forget about the existence of Roid Monkey Barnett now, please?) as they are both proven, top-level Heavyweights. As for Rogers, well, he tried and you canít fault that, but as I said earlier, heís carrying around 265lbs on a 245lbs frame, and really against the best Heavyweight in the world you canít come in in anything less than optimum shape. Brett gassed out and basically shot himself in the foot here. And if Werdum is a future opponent for Fedor heíd do well to learn from this example and come in at about 230lbs!
-Show ends with Fedor celebrating in the cage. Well, unless the announcers wrapped things up and my crappy DVD copy missed that bit.
First off then, thereís just no comparison between this and the shows that Elite XC aired on CBS. Not only did Strike Force give us four fights featuring fighters who were all in or around the top ten in their weight class, but all four fights delivered too, with Silva-Werdum, outside of a couple of slow spots, being one of the better Heavyweight fights of the year, Mousasi-Sokoudjou being a good back-and-forth scrap, an engaging five-rounder in Shields-Mayhem and then the hugely dramatic main event between Fedor and Rogers. Sure, I wouldíve liked to have seen a couple more fights, and Iím not tremendously thrilled by the announcers, but those are small points to make. Ignoring the sour taste left by the involvement of the awful M-1 promotion, this was a really good show. Sure, Iíd rather see all the top fighters in the UFC but that seems impossible right now and if thatís the case then Strike Force is a perfectly acceptable #2. Thumbs up.
Best Fight: Mousasi-Sokoudjou
Worst Fight: Shields-Miller
Overall Rating: ****
Strike Force: Evolution
King of the Cage: Various shows