Strike Force: Henderson vs. Babalu 2 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on December 6, 2010, 6:33 AM
Strike Force: Henderson vs. Babalu 2
St. Louis, Missouri
-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo, Pat Miletich and Frank Shamrock. Kudos to whoever canned that moron Gus Johnson, that’s for sure. Even if Mauro is grating, he at least knows what he’s talking about most of the time!
This one was thrown together on short notice, to replace a pointless Herschel Walker fight that fell apart. No complaints from me there. St. Preux had only competed like two weeks beforehand, while Radach hadn’t seen action since April 2009 and normally fights at 185lbs, so you do the math in terms of who was most likely to win.
Round One begins and the size difference is notable right away as OSP is a lot bigger than Radach. They circle around as the announcers freely admit that Radach probably needs to win early because he’s going to gas. Body kick from OSP but Radach closes the distance and drops for a takedown. He manages to get St. Preux off his feet into a seated position, but OSP quickly posts up to his feet. Radach forces him into the cage, but OSP muscles out with a knee. Combo from OSP stuns Radach and forces him to shoot, but OSP stuffs it and spins to take the back, landing some punches before getting both hooks in. He flattens Radach out and begins to land unanswered punches, and why the ref hasn’t stopped this I’m not sure. I haven’t seen Mike England ref before though so maybe he’s inexperienced. Radach just isn’t defending, though. OSP slows down for a second and looks for the choke, then decides to go back to the punches but the ref still won’t step in. This is ridiculous. Another attempt at the choke follows but he can’t lock it up, so it’s back to unanswered punches. Key word there being “unanswered”. Seconds to go and he really begins to flurry, but the ref just isn’t having it and the round ends. Awful refereeing. 10-8 St. Preux.
Second round and right away OSP rocks him with a combination and causes Radach to hit the deck. He turtles up again and OSP goes to the back and continues where he left off in the opening round. Radach attempts to scramble, but OSP spins onto the back once more although he hasn’t got the hooks in this time. He continues to land punches though and Radach just looks like a beaten man at this stage. I mean, OSP’s not doing too much damage but you could argue for stopping it now even as Benji just isn’t defending himself. Crowd begin to boo now but this isn’t really OSP’s fault – he did enough to finish the fight earlier! Radach ends up seated against the fence, but he looks absolutely exhausted. He gives his back again and we’re back to square one. Radach takes some more shots and then attempts to get to his feet, but OSP drags him back down and continues to land. Round mercifully comes to an end there. I’d go 10-8 there as well as Radach was like a grappling dummy or something.
Third round and Radach comes out swinging and lunges into the clinch, and he actually gets the better of the trade! OSP stuffs a takedown though and both men are swinging wildly. Big combination from OSP drops Radach again though and we’re back to Radach in the turtle position with OSP controlling him from the back. Action slows from there and the ref calls a restart, and both men are clearly gassed now. OSP tries a head kick that Radach just about blocks, and Benji follows by lunging into the clinch, going for the takedown. OSP blocks and the ref separates them, and a wild swing from Radach leads into a crude single leg attempt. OSP stuffs it again and this time he gets warned for using some illegal vertical elbows. Ref separates them again and they trade some tired punches before Radach forces him into the fence again. Crowd are booing now but these guys are exhausted. Radach manages to get the takedown this time, but the clock runs out before he can do a thing with it. I’ve got this 30-25 for Ovince St. Preux.
Judges have it 30-27, 30-26 and 30-25 for Ovince St. Preux. Fight got very tiresome in the latter two rounds, but if we’re honest it should’ve been stopped in the first and after that OSP looked very tired, which is understandable given the notice he took the fight on. I would say Radach showed some heart in the third, but in the previous two rounds it looked like he wanted out and only bad refereeing prevented the stoppage. OSP to me looks like a pretty solid prospect at 205lbs and Strike Force need as much talent in that division as they can, so he’ll probably get a decent promotional push too.
-Heidi Androl joins Dan Henderson who says he’s going to beat Babalu up. Well, duh. He claims he had some issues going into the Shields fight – I heard a back injury actually, not to take anything away from Jake – but he’s concentrating on Sobral.
Like the previous fight, this was put together on short notice although Silva had been booked on the card at least, originally set to face Valentijn Overeem. The Dutchman had withdrawn with injury though and in a bit of a surprise, Mike Kyle stepped up on short notice, moving back up from 205lbs. I expected Scott Coker to match him with Rafael Feijao for the LHW Title as he’s beaten Feijao before, but I guess that wasn’t in the plans and it was in Kyle’s best interests to help the promotion out instead. Despite Kyle being smaller I actually thought he was a tougher challenge than the older Overeem, but a challenge Bigfoot would probably pass with ease.
Fight begins and Kyle comes out throwing his jab, landing it twice before DECKING BIGFOOT WITH A RIGHT HAND! Kyle looks almost shocked himself and takes a second before looking to get past the guard, and he follows with a series of heavy hammer fists as Silva desperately tries to roll to avoid the onslaught. He manages to get back to guard, but Kyle continues to slug away as the announcers mention he’s in danger of punching himself out. Silva still looks hurt though so it’s understandable that Kyle would continue going for the finish. More short hammer fists land and he finally slows up a little as Silva locks down on half-guard. It looks like Silva’s considering a sweep attempt, but Kyle shows some solid base and remains on top, landing with the short hammer fists. Two minutes to go in the round and Kyle opens up with some big shots again, and really I can’t remember seeing Bigfoot in this sort of trouble before even in his loss to Werdum (note; I’ve seen his loss to Eric Pele and it was a poor stoppage). Silva manages to get back to guard though and he looks recovered now, but Kyle continues to land to the body and the head for the remainder of the round. Wow. Got to go 10-8 Kyle there as he came so close to finishing.
Second round and Silva looks fully recovered now. Dude clearly has a hell of a chin. Well, it is huge so maybe that’s the key! Kyle looks to snap the jab again, but Silva lunges in with a sloppy takedown that the smaller man easily avoids. Big right hand lands for Silva though and wobbles Kyle’s legs for a second. Kyle circles out, but takes a heavy leg kick. Scramble leads into a takedown from Bigfoot, and he forces Kyle into the fence and lands some punches from the top. Kyle tries to throw some upkicks, but Silva avoids them and passes into side mount. He moves into north/south from there and lands some heavy punches before attempting the mount. Kyle rolls, but gives his neck and Silva locks up an anaconda choke and rolls into it, and it looks pretty tight. Somehow Kyle survives and spins free though, managing to make it back into guard! Wow. Silva stands over him and lands some heavy blows, then passes back into side mount before taking full mount. Kyle is in trouble and Silva GRABS THE THROAT AND OPENS UP, and ends up knocking Kyle silly before Big John McCarthy steps in. Excellent stoppage from McCarthy too as Kyle was unconscious but his arms were still flailing, ala Jason Lambert against Rashad Evans.
Really good fight. For a late replacement Kyle fought an incredibly gutsy fight and almost pulled the upset, but Silva showed some great recovery powers and once he got Kyle down and started landing shots it was one way traffic. I’ve seen some people online slamming Bigfoot after this but I’m not buying it – anyone can get caught in MMA and the guy came back to win impressively anyway. To me he’s still one of the most dangerous Heavyweights in the world. Hopefully he can get matched with Alistair Overeem, Fedor, or Barnett next – any of them would make sense. As for Kyle, I don’t think the loss harms him at all and he’ll be a solid opponent for anyone in Strike Force’s LHW division.
Heidi Androl is backstage with Babalu who says he wanted to rematch Henderson because he’s one of the best guys in the division, and he’s going to win and get a title shot.
After spending the best part of the decade ranked near the top of the Middleweight division (undeservedly for a lot of the time in my opinion) Matt Lindland’s been on a real slide recently, getting viciously KOd by Vitor Belfort and then submitted by Ronaldo Jacare in 2009, and even in a win over the overmatched Kevin Casey, he didn’t look that impressive. Here he was faced with another vicious striker in Lawler, who was looking to bounce back from a close decision loss to Babalu in June. With Lawler being a big southpaw – something Lindland’s struggled with for years, going back to the David Terrell KO even – I figured we’d probably see ‘The Law’ on the wrong end of another brutal knockout. At least that was my hope – I’ve never liked Lindland, particularly since the ludicrous ‘Fighting Politics’ documentary.
Lawler’s grown a HUGE beard for this fight and almost looks like Johny Hendricks. Fight begins and Lindland doesn’t look to be in any rush to close the distance. Not smart. Early exchange sees neither man land clean really. Lindland’s striking stance is still awful after all these years. He continues to press but Lawler gets the better of the exchanges and tags him with a hard left hand. Lindland steps in again, but this time he eats a short right uppercut before a CRUSHING RIGHT HOOK DROPS HIM HARD! He rolls to his back out of instinct before Lawler DROPS A RIGHT HAND THAT KILLS HIM DEAD!~! WHOOO!~!
Replay shows a bit of a hilarious moment as Lawler actually places Lindland’s feet carefully on the mat as the guy is as stiff as a dead man. Awesome knockout and Lindland’s out for ages afterwards just like the Belfort KO. Lawler looks pumped and quite rightfully so. Dude has bricks in his hands and that was one of the best knockouts of 2010, particularly taking into consideration who was the victim! I think Lindland is probably done now, especially when you remember that he’s 40. At the very least he needs to avoid devastating southpaws even if I’d get a kick out of seeing him knocked out again! I’d still like to see Lawler in the UFC to match with their Middleweights, but if he’s content in Strike Force then a title fight with Jacare sounds good to me!
This was Smith’s first fight at 170lbs after his loss to Cung Le at 185lbs, and man, could Strike Force have found a worse fight on paper for him than Daley? Semtex of course had signed with Strike Force after a couple of wins on the regional circuit when it was clear that the UFC didn’t want him back after his ludicrous sucker punch on Josh Koscheck. Everyone figured we’d see a highlight reel knockout in this one but to me it was pretty clear that Smith would come out on the wrong end of it – his chin looks shot these days and Daley is a far superior striker anyway. To me this was just a formality to introduce Daley to the Showtime crowd before his inevitable title fight against Nick Diaz.
Fight begins and naturally both men come out throwing punches before Daley lands a low kick. Left hand from Smith causes Daley to stumble, but it was clearly a slip and he comes back with another leg kick. Head kick is blocked by Smith. Big one-two drops Smith and he looks to grab a leg as Daley closes in smelling blood. Daley avoids and lands some left hands before Smith gets back up. He’s still in a lot of trouble but Daley isn’t the type to swing wildly and he’s clearly looking to pick his shots. Daley presses forward and lands a couple of jabs as Smith covers up, still looking to regain his footing, before firing back with a jab of his own. Trio of left hooks hurt Smith badly and have him on wobbly legs again, but in typical Scott Smith style he fights fire with fire and wades forward swinging. Only problem is this time he’s using fire to fight SEMTEX, and sure enough Daley slips the punches and lands with a BRUTAL LEFT HOOK that drops Smith face-first, out cold. Holy SHIT.
I didn’t think Lawler would be beaten for best knockout on this show, but THERE YOU GO. Fight went exactly how I expected, with Daley using his technical striking and vicious power to take Smith out pretty quickly, but even I couldn’t have predicted a knockout quite so clean. On a highlight reel that has stuff like the KO of Dustin Hazelett, this one takes the cake. Amazing timing and power from Semtex. He didn’t even need to follow up the shot. Unbelievable stuff. Methinks Smith needs a long break from MMA after this one.
Post-fight Daley says he’d like to fight KJ Noons next before taking on Diaz for the belt. That doesn’t make sense to me really as Diaz is in desperate need of a challenger and not only is Daley the most qualified guy Strike Force has, but he’s also fresh out of the UFC with wins over a couple of their top guys so it’s a chance to legitimise the Strike Force belt too! Plus Noons is far better at 155lbs. Hopefully Strike Force just pulls the trigger on Diaz-Daley as it’s the best WW fight outside the UFC right now.
-We get a plug for the next Challengers show with a main event of Tyron Woodley vs. Tarec Saffiedine. Perfect fight for Woodley right now actually. Heidi Androl interviews T-Wood himself and he gets a big pop from his hometown crowd despite looking like a small Rashad Evans. I really like Woodley but he’s another guy who really needs to be in the UFC within the next eighteen months to seriously further his career.
This one was set up when Babalu called out Henderson for a rematch of their 2000 clash in RINGS after his win over Robbie Lawler in June. Solid fight and it looked like a good opportunity for Henderson to bounce back from his loss to Jake Shields, as really, Babalu is a solid veteran but he’s not quite as good as Hendo in any area and historically Hendo has always performed better at 205lbs than at 185lbs. I expected Henderson to outwork Babalu for a clear decision win here.
First round begins and they circle before Hendo throws the right hand into a clinch. They break quickly and Babalu throws a left high kick that Henderson blocks. Right hook glances off Babalu’s head and he comes back with a pair of kicks. They exchange some punches and Henderson backs the Brazilian up into the cage with some power hooks. Babalu tries a takedown, but ends up on the bottom, and Hendo cracks him with a right hand before looking for the mount. Babalu manages to get a loose guard, but Henderson rears up and lands a series of DEVASTATING PUNCHES TO KNOCK BABALU SILLY!~!
Post-fight Henderson says he felt better for this fight than he has in a long time. Mauro is annoying as hell here, calling Henderson’s right hand the ‘H-Bomb’. Dude, this is MMA and fighters don’t need named finishers like in pro-wrestling. Hendo goes on to say he’s glad to have proven the people who thought he was finished at the top level wrong, then says he’ll fight at 205lbs or 185lbs depending on what Scott Coker wants.
Didn’t expect that to be quite so quick and easy for Henderson but I guess Babalu’s chin is well and truly cracked now and this was another scary KO for him after suffering a similar one at the hands of Gegard Mousasi last year. Henderson looked back to his best though and it looks like they’re going to match him with Rafael Feijao for the Strike Force LHW Title next which makes sense to me given his huge salary. Sort of refreshing to see Strike Force using some smarter matchmaking for once!
-Announcers wrap things up and it must be said that Mauro was back to his very worst here, spouting clichés like a machine and screaming like an idiot when the knockouts happened. On the other hand, Miletich and Shamrock were fantastic on colour commentary. My suggestion? Bring in Stephen Quadros for play-by-play and can Mauro. It’d make the product so much better to watch. Show ends with a highlight reel.
This was quite comfortably the best Strike Force show of 2010, as even after a pretty weak opening fight, Silva-Kyle turned out to be really exciting and dramatic and the other three fights ended in total highlight reel fashion. Sure, all of the fights were a bit one-sided on paper, but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a bit of favourable matchmaking for your top stars in order to get some material for the highlights, and who am I to fault Strike Force for doing that? In all honesty it’s something the UFC ought to consider doing more often – although if they were to do it the usual online idiotic Zuffa haters would flip their lids, but that’s another story. To suggest this show was somehow a “major blow” in Strike Force’s “war” against the UFC is absolutely retarded, but it WAS a great show, nobody could deny that. Two thumbs up, easy.
Best Fight: Silva-Kyle
Worst Fight: St. Preux-Radach
Overall Rating: ****1/2
UFC: 118-123, Fight Night 22
King of the Cage: Various shows