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Strike Force: Feijao vs. Henderson review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on March 8, 2011, 4:20 AM

Strike Force: Feijao vs. Henderson

Columbus, Ohio

-Opening shows some highlights from the annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus. Really smart idea from Strike Force to do a show there when UFC decided not to this year.

-Heidi Androl interviews Arnold himself and he claims to be a big fan of MMA despite it sounding a bit like heís discussing pro-wrestling instead. Not as funny as that odd UFC interview with Stallone that time.

-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo, Frank Shamrock and Pat Miletich. Thumbs up to whoever canned Gus Johnson, now letís keep it that way okay? Frank Shamrock claims if Henderson wins tonight heís won every title that matters in MMA. Ever heard of the UFC title, dickhead? You know - the most prestigious title in the sport? And no, I donít count Hendoís UFC tournament win as a proper title.

Lightweight Fight: Jorge Masvidal vs Billy Evangelista

I thought Masvidal was a good signing for Strike Force who always need more talent, although his inconsistency is pretty alarming Ė how do you go from absolutely annihilating Satoru Kitaoka to losing to a guy like Luis Palomino? Evangelista had built an unbeaten record mainly on the Strike Force Challengers series, but Iíve never been overly enamoured with him (I thought he lost to Jorge Gurgel, for instance) so I figured this ought to be an easy win for Masvidal as long as he came in prepared.

Round One and Masvidal circles on the outside with a couple of jabs as Evangelista looks for a way inside. Good leg kick from Evangelista but Masvidalís really using his reach to land these jabs. Masvidal catches a kick and gets a quick takedown before they come up into the clinch. Masvidal lands some knees and muscles the smaller man around, but Evangelista fires back with some knees of his own. He tries a takedown but Masvidal blocks it. Knee breaks for Masvidal and he pushes forward with a nice body punch. Good knees from Masvidal in the clinch, but Evangelista tackles him to the ground with a double leg. Masvidal holds an arm-in guillotine from guard, but it doesnít look like heís really squeezing and eventually lets go to attempt to stand. Evangelista looks like heís going for a standing arm triangle as they come up, but Masvidal easily avoids that only to eat an elbow from the clinch. They exchange knees before Masvidal breaks, and Evangelista is still struggling with the reach. A takedown attempt is stuffed by Masvidal and he lands a few more jabs. Masvidal blocks a takedown on the buzzer. 10-9 Masvidal.

Round Two and Masvidal opens by continuing to feed him a steady diet of jabs. They clinch and Evangelista goes for a takedown, but Masvidal uses a whizzer to block and they come back to the clinch before breaking off. Couple more jabs and then Masvidal catches a kick and gets a takedown to guard. Evangelista quickly escapes to his feet though. Nice jab snaps Evangelistaís head back. Good right to the body follows. Masvidal is just eating him up with the jab. Takedown attempt from Evangelista is shrugged off and Masvidal exits with a heavy knee to the midsection. Hard counter-right looks to wobble Evangelista a bit. Telegraphed single leg is blocked by Masvidal and he counters to his own single leg attempt. Evangelista grabs the fence to defend, but ends up down anyway but only in a seated position. He works back up, but Masvidal scoops him up and slams him down, getting a front facelock to control him. Evangelista manages to scramble up to his feet, but Masvidal exits the clinch with a hard knee. Masvidal begins to drop his hands now and dodge out of the way of punches ala Anderson Silva. Round ends on the feet. Easy round for Jorge Masvidal, 10-9.
Round Three and the opening minute is all Masvidal. Heís making this look easy now, avoiding Evangelistaís strikes like theyíre nothing while landing on him with jabs and straight punches. Takedown attempt from Evangelista but Masvidal stuffs it and breaks off with a nice elbow strike. Right hand hurts Evangelista but Masvidal doesnít get crazy and he continues to land the jab. Single leg attempt from Masvidal and he transitions into a rear waistlock but canít get Evangelista down, so he breaks off. Crowd are booing but I donít think you can fault Masvidal here. Not his fault that Evangelista canít deal with his range. More jabs crack Evangelista and Masvidal dances out of the way of the counters. Takedown is easily shrugged off by Masvidal. Evangelista finally lands an uppercut and tries to close the distance, but Masvidal dances out of range again. Seconds to go now and they clinch to end the fight. I have this 30-27 Jorge Masvidal, pretty easy fight to score. Letís hope the judges arenít retarded now.

Thankfully thereís no weird judging here and itís 30-27 scores all round for Jorge Masvidal. Mauro was criticising him for not going for the finish, but I donít agree Ė this was a smart gameplan that allowed Masvidal to easily beat a tough, undefeated fighter, and it makes him an instant contender in a relatively small division. On another note though this was another example of Strike Force handling prospects badly, as they built Evangelista slowly on the Challengers cards but then didnít have any lower-level gatekeepers for him to fight and he ended up in way over his head with a larger, far more experienced Masvidal.

-Heidi Androl talks to Marloes Coenen who says she doesnít mind the late opponent change as sheíll end up fighting all the best fighters anyway. Coenenís really well-spoken actually. Heidi then talks to Liz Carmouche who looks much, much smaller in comparison Ė Coenen looked taller than Heidi while Carmouche is waaay shorter.

Middleweight Fight: Tim Kennedy vs Melvin Manhoef

Alright, so this matchmaking confused me horribly. So youíve got a guy like Manhoef who could get over huge as an absolute killer with the right opponent (read, a BJJ guy with crap takedowns or a worse striker) and heís in the Middleweight division which, outside of the champion (Jacare) and two guys heís already beaten (Kennedy and Lawler) is pretty dead. So youíd have thought Strike Force would want to build Manhoef to a potential title match with Jacare, right? Instead they match him with Kennedy, who has great takedowns and a killer ground game. So whatís the point in having Manhoef on the roster if youíre just going to feed him to a guy like Kennedy, who again, already lost to the champ? The mind boggles sometimes. Natural pick was Kennedy via submission.

First round and they circle before Kennedy shoots for a takedown. Melvin actually does a good job of defending though, hopping on one leg before pulling free. Whoa. Manhoef looks to strike but Kennedy goes for another takedown, only for Melvin to shrug it off again. Low kick from Kennedy but Manhoef catches it and counters with a right hook that puts Kennedy on the retreat. HUGE leg kick lands for Melvin and drops Kennedy for a second! Another one follows with a little less impact, thankfully if youíre Kennedy. Kennedy shoots another double leg and this time he manages to get Melvin down. Melvin manages to get back to his feet but Kennedy gets a bodylock and brings him down, taking side mount in the process. Full mount for Kennedy and Melvinís in trouble. He gives his back and Kennedy lands some punches and flattens him out. Rear naked choke attempt and it looks sunk, and after a slight struggle Manhoef taps out.

I guess Melvin had worked a ton on his takedown defense as that definitely looked improved, but on the ground once the fight went down he was as bad as ever and Kennedy easily took a dominant position and got the submission. Pretty predictable if weíre honest. Donít know if Jacare-Kennedy makes sense next as the first fight wasnít exactly great, but who else do they really have?

-Heidi interviews Dan Henderson who says he prefers it when a guy comes out looking to fight, then claims heís a smarter fighter at 40 than he was at 30. Feijao Ė whose English is tremendous for a Brazilian Ė says he isnít thinking about the fact that the titleís changed hands so often recently and is only focused on Henderson.

Strike Force Womenís Welterweight Title: Marloes Coenen vs Liz Carmouche

This was supposed to be Coenen defending against #1 Contender Meisha Tate, but she got hurt in training and so Carmouche, coming off a win over Jan Finney (remember her? Cyborgís last murder victim!) in November stepped in. Still not a fan of WMMA but Coenen seems very talented to me so I figured sheíd retain her title. Ref here is Greg Franklin, Richís brother, and you can really tell as he looks just like a chubby Rich.

Opening round and they come out fast and exchange some early strikes with Coenen landing a good leg kick and a straight right. Combo from Carmouche but Coenen hits another good counter right. Coenenís counter striking is looking really good here. Crowd begin to boo with about two minutes gone and I donít know why. Exchange leads into a bodylock for Carmouche and she pins Coenen into the fence. They jockey for position in the clinch and exchange a few strikes inside, with both women pulling out the old Marco Ruas foot stomps. Ref decides to break them up with a minute to go and Carmouche lands a couple of nice one-twos before Coenen fires back with a leg kick and a right hand to end the round. Probably Coenenís round but it was close.

2nd round and they exchange some leg kicks to begin. Combo from Carmouche and she closes the distance into the clinch. They exchange knees and Coenen grabs the plum clinch, but Carmouche drops for the takedown. Coenen grabs a standing guillotine and leans back in an attempt to finish, but Carmouche manages to grit it out and ends up on top in guard. Couple of knees to the tailbone land for Carmouche as Coenen attempts to tie up the upper body. Armbar attempt from Coenen but Carmouche postures free and drops a pair of heavy right hands onto the championís face. Nice guard pass from Carmouche into north/south and she drops some knees to the shoulder and body. Coenen attempts a wild back-roll to take the back, but Carmouche keeps her pinned down and then goes for full mount. Coenen counters that with a heel hook attempt, but Carmouche scrambles free and opens up with punches from full mount! Looks like Coenenís in trouble as Carmouche lands some really heavy shots, but the champion manages to cover up enough for Greg Franklin to let the round end. Massive round for the challenger, but probably not enough for a 10-8, so itís 19-19 going into the third on my scorecard.

Into the third and Coenenís right eye is looking in bad shape. Couple of kicks from the champion but Carmouche closes the distance and forces her into the cage. They muscle for position and Coenen lands a nice elbow strike, but she canít shrug Carmouche off and they continue to exchange knees. Nice trip takedown from Carmouche into side mount, despite Coenen grabbing the fence. Full mount again and the challenger manages to break Coenenís grip and goes to work with punches again. Carmoucheís control from the mount is really, really good. Coenen is in deep trouble here. One minute to go and Coenen canít seem to escape the position as Carmouche continues to land blows. Only seconds to go on the clock though and once again Carmouche canít quite finish things before the buzzer. Well, Coenen had no offense in that round so Iíd go 10-8, putting the challenger in the driving seat going into the fourth.

Fourth round and Carmouche comes forward and goes for the takedown, but this time Coenen manages to end up in top position as they go down. Carmouche tries the rubber guard so Coenen pulls free and stands, looking to drop some punches from above, but Carmouche suddenly explodes up into a double leg attempt and takes the champ down again! Coenen immediately goes for a triangle from her back though, and it looks sunk in! Carmouche tries to posture up, but Coenen grabs the head and pulls down, and Carmouche taps out as she falls to her side. Great finish.

Well, that was probably the best womenís fight Iíve ever seen I think. Probably because it wasnít a horrible one-sided slaughter like other womenís fights Strike Force have put on in the past. Carmouche came out and really took the fight to the champion, punishing her from top position in the second and third before Coenen pulled out a triangle from nowhere in the fourth. A bit like a lite version of Silva vs. Sonnen, in fact. Good stuff!

Strike Force Light-Heavyweight Title: Rafael Feijao vs Dan Henderson

This was always the obvious path for Strike Force once the less-popular Feijao won the LHW title from King Mo, as in many respects it was win/win either way Ė if Feijao managed to beat Henderson then heíd get a big rub from beating an established elite fighter, while if Henderson won the belt then Strike Force would have one of their most marketable stars as champion. On a side note I always wondered why they didnít just put Henderson in the 205lbs division from the beginning to fight Mousasi as that division was quieter than 185lbs, but I guess the temptation to try to humiliate Jake Shields before he bolted for the UFC was a strain too much for them to bear. This was actually a hard one to pick in my eyes after seeing Feijao deal with a superior wrestler to Henderson in King Mo, but then Hendo always has the big equalizer in the form of his knockout power.

Crowd give Hendo a massive pop while Feijao barely gets a reaction. Fight begins and both men look pretty tentative early as the crowd chant for Hendo right off the bat. Good leg kick lands for Feijao. Hendo has the right hand cocked already and finally he throws it a couple of times but doesnít land clean. Feijao fires back with an overhand right of his own though....and staggers Henderson, knocking him down! Whoa! Feijao quickly looks to capitalize but a scramble follows and Henderson hits a double leg and gets on top in the guard. Henderson just stays on top without really trying anything, clearly letting himself recover from the knockdown. Ref decides to bring them back up with two minutes to go and Henderson comes in with the right, but Feijao uses a knee to keep him away. Clinch from Hendo and he pins the Brazilian into the fence. Good sharp body punch from Henderson. Feijao turns him around and almost gets a takedown but Henderson blocks it. Ref breaks the clinch with seconds to go but nothing happens before the buzzer. Well, Hendo was on top for a while but Feijao landed the only significant blow so Iíd call that 10-9 Feijao.

Round Two and Henderson opens with a rare leg kick. Good right from Hendo but Feijao takes it like a man. Punches from Hendo and Feijao looks for a takedown, but the challenger stuffs it and forces him into the cage. They exchange some short shots before Feijao shrugs off a single leg. They muscle for position and Henderson shows some tremendous wrestling skill to land on top as Feijao looks to throw him down. Feijao gets half-guard but Hendo uses a headlock to control him. Scramble from Feijao though and he gets a nice single leg reversal to take top positon in Danís guard. Little action follows and the ref brings them back up, and a couple of wild swings miss for Feijao. One minute remaining and Henderson closes him down with a glancing right hand. Leg kick from Hendo before he uses a superman punch attempt to close the distance into the clinch. Takedown from the challenger and he lands in half-guard. Good elbows to the body from Henderson and he rides the round out on top. 10-9 Henderson.

Third round and they circle before Feijao lands a nice leg kick. Hendo closes the distance with a right and an uppercut but the champion shrugs off a clinch. Overhand right from nowhere PUTS FEIJAO DOWN FACE-FIRST and Henderson quickly pounces, securing a back mount and landing punches for the stoppage! Man, that literally came out of nowhere.

Pretty good fight that was even until the big right hand, but thatís always the problem when youíre fighting Dan Henderson and indeed, he landed here and when he did it was OVER. Watching this I think if King Mo hadnít injured himself early on against Feijao I think he couldíve used his wrestling to win that fight as Henderson took Feijao down a few times with little problem, but I guess thatís another story. Not sure where they go from here as I donít think Hendo will fight King Mo and so after Gegard Mousasi thereís nobody else to fight, but thatís another story too. I guess this justifies the money Strike Force spent on the guy finally.

-Announcers wrap the night up and we are done.

Final Thoughts....

Bit of a so-so card from Strike Force, as the two title fights delivered but Kennedy-Manhoef was a squash for the most part and Masvidal-Evangelista was pretty dull. Still, you canít really complain with two fights out of four being really good and Coenen-Carmouche was a hell of a fight, so itís worth a look anyway. Thumbs up.

Best Fight: Coenen-Carmouche
Worst Fight: Masvidal-Evangelista

Overall Rating: ***

Coming Soon....

UFC: 123-127, Fight Night 23
DREAM: Dynamite 2010
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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