“Smokin” Joe Villasenor raises his arms in triumph over Evangelista Cyborg Friday night in the main event on the second Strikeforce Challengers series on Showtime. Photo by Esther Lin/Strikeforce.
VILLASENOR DECISIONS CYBORG IN MAIN EVENT; GURGEL AND HEUN PROVIDE CROWD-PLEASING FIREWORKS; KENNEDY AND KAUFMAN EACH SCORE VICTORIES
KENT, Wash. – “Smokin” Joe Villasenor showed no signs of rust after a year away from the cage as he recorded a close split decision over Evangelista “Cyborg” in the main event of the sophomore edition of Strikeforce Challengers Friday night on Showtime before an enthusiastic crowd at the ShoWare Center.
In a gritty and tactical battle all the way to the end, Villasenor proved victorious winning on two of the three judges scorecards, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28. “I haven’t fought in over a year and that’s a great fight to come back to,” Villasenor said afterwards. “A three-round war. I was really surprised by (Cyborg’s) countering. It turned into a great fight.”
Joey Villasenor. Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.
Strikeforce continues to move forward and will hold its second-ever “Challengers” event tonight on Showtime from the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington with a decidedly different look compared to their inaugural event back in May.
While a slew of skilled prospects will still be featured, tonight’s show will sport an unusual number of fighters that are often seen on the main cards of Strikeforce’s bigger events. The fact that both Dennis Hallman and Duane Ludwig have been relegated to preliminary bouts shows the sheer amount of notable talent on display.
The event will be headlined by a sure-fire middleweight slugfest between Brazilian striker Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos and Greg Jackson-trained Joey Villasenor. Additional bouts slated for the televised main card include a middleweight clash between former BodogFight welterweight champion Nick Thompson and Army veteran Tim Kennedy as well as a lightweight bout involving Jorge Gurgel and Conor Heun.
Joey Villasenor. Photo by Esther Lin/ProElite.
NEW YORK — Middleweight (185 pound) wrecking machines “Smokin” Joey Villasenor (26-6) and Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos (16-12) will face off in the main event of a Strikeforce Challengers mixed martial arts (MMA) card at the all-new ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington on Friday, June 19.
Also enlisted for the card, thus far, are lightweight (155 pound) fan-favorite Jorge Gurgel (12-5), wrestling ace Dennis “Superman” Hallman (40-12-2), and Hallman protégé Cory “The One” Devela (9-2).
The live Showtime telecast of the event will begin at 11 p.m. ET/PT (tape delayed on the west coast) and will include up to five bouts.
EliteXC today officially announced details regarding their scheduled November 8 event, titled “A Night of Champions”. The show will take place at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada and will air live on Showtime.
The card will be headlined by two separate championship fights: EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler will defend his title in a rematch against a streaking Joey Villasenor while Nick Diaz and DREAM standout Eddie Alvarez will battle it out for the vacant EliteXC lightweight belt.
Tickets are on sale now, start at $38, and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Additional fights expected to take place at the event include Kaitlin Young vs. Sarah Kaufmann, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante vs. Cyrille Diabate (possibly for the vacant EliteXC light heavyweight title), and Brett Rogers against an opponent yet to be determined.
Robbie Lawler. Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.
Robbie Lawler will defend his EliteXC middleweight title in a rematch against longtime veteran Joey Villasenor at a scheduled EliteXC show on November 8 that will air on Showtime. The organization officially announced the bout during last night’s ShoXC telecast on the network.
Lawler and Villasenor originally fought at PRIDE 32 in October 2006, where Lawler was victorious via knockout due to a flying knee that came just 22 seconds into the bout.
Since then, the two have gone on their separate ways. Lawler defeated Chute Boxe product Murilo “Ninja” Rua at EliteXC’s “Uprising” event last fall to win the EliteXC middleweight belt and successfully defended his crown against Scott Smith in July.
Following the first Lawler bout, Villasenor went on to decision former UFC middleweight title challenger David Loiseau and go on a three-fight winning streak inside EliteXC, most recently scoring an impressive first-round stoppage of Phil Baroni at EliteXC’s first ever show on CBS this past May.
Takanori Gomi. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.
Here’s a little recap of what we might have missed over the past few days or so…
Gomi, Trigg Win at Sengoku IV
Former PRIDE standouts Takanori Gomi and Frank Trigg were victorious in their respective bout Sunday morning at World Victory Road’s “Sengoku IV” event in Japan. Gomi earned a decision over Seung Pang Hwan while Trigg went all three rounds with Makoto Takimoto.
Former IFL lightweight champion Ryan Schultz was upset in the first round of World Victory Road’s inaugural lightweight grand prix, losing via knockout to Mizuto Hirota. Kazunori Yokota, Eiji Mitsuoka, Satoru Kitaoka all also moved on to the tournament’s next round.
Jared Shaw. Photo by Esther Lin/AllElbows.com
Despite rampant speculation that EliteXC and the multiple promotions owned under parent company ProElite are in potential financial trouble, EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw is denying the reports, at least when it comes to the home of Kimbo Slice and K.J. Noons.
“EliteXC will not be going on Sept. 20,” Shaw said in a report on MMA Junkie this morning. “I’m the vice president of EliteXC, so I don’t really know all the matters that occur with the Cage Rages or ICONs of the world. But I can tell you that EliteXC is fully functional and fully healthy. Some things happen on a larger scale not necessarily that we’re not privy to, but we’re busy working on other events. For EliteXC we just felt that we needed to clear the runway for a big landing on Oct. 4.”
Those other events Shaw speaks of apparently include four more shows over the next three months, starting with the latest edition of ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series on September 26th, which will be headlined by Wilson Reis taking on Bao Quach for the vacant EliteXC featherweight belt.
“We have a large schedule of mixed martial arts fights coming up,” Shaw said. “We have Sept. 26 in Santa Barbara - our ShoXC featuring that world title fight (between 140-pound fighters Bao Quach and Wilson Reis). Oct. 4 (we’re) on CBS featuring Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano. Oct. 10 on Showtime, ShoXC will feature the heavyweight phenom, Dave Herman. And we will be back on Nov. 8 with another tremendous Showtime show.”
Joey Villasenor. Photo by Esther Lin/ProElite.
A rematch between former EliteXC middleweight champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Joey Villasenor could take place at EliteXC’s planned September 20th show, which will be televised on Showtime and may take place at the Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Villasenor confirmed the possible opponent and event location with our friends at MMA Junkie. While nothing is set in stone in terms of Rua being Villasenor’s next opponent, (Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos has also been thrown around by EliteXC officials) the Greg Jackson-trained middleweight says that Rua’s name comes up more ofter than that.
“It sounds like it’s going to be in my hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Villasenor said in the article. “We’re just waiting on confirmation of who it’s going to be against. They keep on bringing up Ninja’s name. They’re bringing up other names, but Ninja is the one that is sticking out right now.”
Rua last fought at EliteXC’s “Return of the King” event in June, earning a first-round TKO win over Australia native Tony Bonello, while Villasenor is coming off of a brutal stoppage of Phil Baroni at EliteXC’s inaugural “Saturday Night Fights” show on CBS. Rua halted Villasenor with strikes in the second round of their first bout in June of last year.
Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.
The negative fallout from EliteXC’s second show on CBS is continuing. Yesterday the UFC and Spike TV blasted the organization for drawing lesser numbers on their network television broadcast than a replay of UFC 84: Ill Will in certain demographics last Saturday night. Gary Shaw and Doug DeLuca’s resignation from ProElite were also announced on Tuesday as well.
One of the things EliteXC heads DeLuca and Jeremy Lappen continually harped on in the weeks leading up to the event was the tremendous ticket sales they were enjoying. DeLuca stated that five days out from the event, they had already sold half of the available tickets and were expecting a sellout.
“We’re definitely well over half sold already,” DeLuca said during a pre-event conference call on July 22. “That was as of the weekend. I know we picked up a full head of steam on Monday. I’m really not too sure where ticket sales are at exactly, but we are fully expecting it to be a complete sell out.”
It turns out that DeLuca fibbed a bit.
Kimbo Slice follows up with an uppercut as a bloodied James Thompson attempts to retaliate. Photo: Tom Casino/EliteXC
On a history-making evening which featured a lot of exciting, entertaining two-way action and a little bit of everything, including licks, kicks and controversy, unbeaten Kimbo Slice (3-0) of Perrine, Fla., scored a hard-fought third-round TKO over England’s James “Colossus” Thompson (16-9) in the main event of the inaugural “CBS EliteXC Saturday Night Fights” on the CBS Television Network.