Tonight, join us at 10:00 PM ET/9:00 PM CT for the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy live blog! I will be posting my thoughts and occasionally making fun of the commentary team as the fights go on, so be sure to check in and follow along, even if you’re already watching the event. Updates begin when the show starts; make sure to refresh every few minutes to see them.
9:01- Welcome to the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy live blog! Get pumped, people- two titles are on the line tonight! That’s equivalent to 3/4 of a UFC title! Let’s do it.
9:03- If you were offended by my Strikeforce title dig, I apologize. I should take this more seriously. I’m sure that the fact that nearly all of the fighters featured in Strikeforce’s opening promo no longer fight for the company is no reason to be concerned.
9:05- I love the idea that a challenger would be ducking a champion. Mostly because it’s absolutely insane and makes no sense.
9:06- Oh, Mauro Ranallo. The pale bald head, the thick black glasses…the half-opened eyes leering at the camera in the creepy manner of a serial killer.
9:09- Apparently, many (but not all, I guess) of Robbie Lawler’s knockouts have been “of the violent variety”. I suppose the others were those rare “non-violent knockouts”. EDUCATE US, MAURO!
9:13- Can Lorenz Larkin say that he “cut” x amount of pounds when he come down nearly fifty pounds in weight? I’m guessing that wasn’t all water weight. A good portion of it must have been Whopper weight, in fact.
9:17- It’s been awhile, but these elbows and leg kicks from Larkin don’t look like kung fu techniques.
9:19- Shoulder strikes: worth throwing in a fight, but not a big enough deal to fine somebody for when they happen at a weigh-in. Hmmm.
9:22- Lawler continues to perplex me, fight after fight, with his low-volume approach to striking.
9:25- Two rounds to Larkin now. Lawler simply is not throwing any strikes. Larkin has visibly gained a ton of confidence. Lawler’s corner- “We just need to stay a little more busy.” Yes, in the same way that Hummers need to get a little bit better gas mileage.
9:28- Is Lawler under the impression that whoever wins the last round wins the fight? That they’re going five rounds, maybe? Or is he just that confident that he can do very little, then get a finish in the third round?
9:31- I hate to say it, but Lawler looked old tonight. And disinterested. Still enough for Ranallo to call it a “great fight!”, apparently.
9:35- The judges get eased into the main card with an easy 30-27 call. Afterward, Larkin got on his hands and knees and begged Dana White for…post-fight bonuses for Strikeforce fighters. Admit it, you thought he was going to ask White to bring him over to the UFC in an awesomely awkward moment. I know I did!
9:43- Jardine-Roger Gracie next. I love Keith Jardine, because “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine sounds like the name of a lowly local club boxer, yet his skills are that of…oh. Nevermind.
9:50- Dominant round for Gracie, even with Jardine trying to move like a strange combination of Clay Guida and Nick Diaz in the standup.
9:52- Gracie nearly has his hooks in while taking Jardine’s back. I’m happy to see that Gracie is more than willing to strike on the mat instead of purely working jiu-jitsu.
9:55- Mauro Ranallo immediately recalls Ivan Salaverry’s 2004 body triangle submission of Tony Fryklund, but Frank Shamrock didn’t remember Royce Gracie using the same (iconic) front kick entry to takedown attempts repeatedly in the early UFCs. Who’s the expert, again?
9:59- It’s a bit disheartening that Gracie has allowed Jardine to hang around this long. Clearly all of the blood pouring from Jardine’s dome was a problem when Gracie was looking for subs in round two, but still.
10:01- Jardine letting Gracie jab him in the face at range and coast to a decision victory as the clock runs out.
10:04- Gracie wins the decision and gets the post-fight interview treatment. Questions Mauro Ranallo Won’t Ask #417- “So, why elbow a guy from the top and cut him open if you know you’re going to attempt submissions non-stop?”
10:07- Kudos to Strikeforce for doing an “All Access” special on Ronda Rousey, airing August 8. Should be interesting. She takes on Sarah Kaufman on August 18, of course.
10:10- Pat Healy: right in the middle of the lightweight title picture, and fighting on the prelims tonight. Strikeforce has learned from the UFC, after all!
10:17- Not gonna lie; I’m excited to see Marquardt fight. Just not against Tyron Woodley.
10:19- By the way, since Marquardt’s last fight, Ronda Rousey had time to turn pro, win five fights, become Strikeforce champ, and grace the cover of ESPN: The Magazine.
10:22- Woodley rocks Marquardt out of nowhere. Does he: a) Pressure him with more strikes, b) Look for the big knockout punch, or c) Just start wrestling him? Oh, you know it’s “c”.
10:27- Marquardt wins round one on my card, but Woodley is still brangin’ it in the second. Yes, “brangin’“. Woodley even throws (and lands!) a spinning back fist.
10:29- Good God, Woodley’s mother is filling the “really loud family member” void left by Kenny Florian’s brother. meanwhile, Marquardt controlling a slower-paced round two.
10:32- Woodley looks like a guy who is finally in the cage with someone who can dictate the terms of the fight to him.
10:34- Woodley rocks Marquardt with a right hand, and this time does not waste the opportunity. He pounds on Marquardt, who barely survives the sequence before locking Woodley up in guard.
10:36- Referee Dave Hagen quickly stands the fighters up. Clearly our man Dave worships at the altar of Miragliotta.
10:38- Marquardt recovers but it isn’t enough to keep Woodley from winning round three. He’s still down 29-28 to Marquardt in my eyes, though.
10:41- Marquardt finishes Woodley out of nowhere against the cage after rocking him with a great right elbow and a left hand. As Woodley was falling, a right uppercut ensured the fight was definitely over. Marquardt even made the badass move of walking away before the ref touched him. Classy and badass at the same time, actually.
10:48- Now, the bazillion-dollar question: Who the hell does Marquardt fight next?
10:54- But THERE’S MORE! The Strikeforce Middleweight Title is up for grabs, with free spirit Luke Rockhold taking on straight-laced Army Ranger Tim Kennedy…Kennedyyyyy.
10:57- I don’t see Kennedy’s workmanlike approach trumping Rockhold’s laundry list of athletic and technical advantages. Of course, now that I said that, Kennedy will surely find a way.
11:00- This is a real brawl so far, with Rockhold swinging wildly to finish whenever the slightest opportunity presents itself. He looks very aggressive. Kennedy hits the takedown with two minutes left in the round, though.
11:02- Rockhold looked for a kimura from half-guard; Kennedy used it to pass to side control. Rockhold able to stand up, however. That round goes to Rockhold on my scorecard. “Despite the takedown and control?” Ranallo asks. Yes, despite a whole 1 1/2 minutes of “takedown and control”. Good lord.
11:04- Early second round exchange allows Rockhold to take Kennedy’s back, but he could only get one hook in. Kennedy stands and looks like he’s trying to figure out how to get inside Rockhold’s range.
11:09- Another round in the books for Rockhold. Kennedy desperately needs to figure out a new strategy here.
11:12- After a brief delay for a knee to the groin by Kennedy, we resume our regularly-scheduled ass whoopin’. Kennedy gets frustrated after eating a right hook and throws some leg kicks and goes for a takedown, but after that fails he goes right back to circling with his back on the cage and throwing occasional single kicks.
11:15- Closest round so far, with Kennedy landing a lot of kicks and getting a takedown to back control, but the judges will likely not looko kindly upon his letting Rockhold advance the whole time.
11:18- Kennedy is clearly hoping to wear Rockhold down with leg kicks, but it won’t pay off fast enough to matter. Rockhold has switched his stance, though.
11:19- Both men land right hooks, but Rockhold’s does more damage and he takes top position on Kennedy. Kennedy has his wits about him and looks for a guillotine, but Rockhold escapes and we’re back to standing.
11:21- Round four definitely goes to Rockhold, and at this point Kennedy really needs a finish. I don’t know whether he will be aggressive enough to get anywhere close to one, however.
11:25- Kennedy lacking a sense of urgency, but Rockhold is similarly content to just let things go as they have been. The difference, of course, is that Rockhold has that luxury because he is winning.
11:27- Kennedy goes for a takedown with five seconds left in a fight he has lost at least three rounds of already. Love to see that. /sarcasm
11:29- All three judges score the bout the same as I did, 49-46 for Rockhold. Incredibly, Kennedy looks surprised/disappointed. I mean, really?!?
11:31- After the fight, Rockhold gives credit to his training partners at AKA for helping him improve his wrestling. Kennedy doesn’t get to rock the mic.
11:35- Well folks, it’s been (mostly) fun. Here’s hoping Kennedy finds a way to drop some weight and take on Marquardt. As long as he promises to use a strategy that makes sense, that is. Be on the lookout for my Parting Shots article in the next couple of days.