Cory Devela

Villasenor Edges Santos at “Challengers”


“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.”

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Previewing Strikeforce Challengers: The Main Card


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.

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Devela, Rockhold to Collide at Strikeforce Challengers in June


Cory Devela. Photo by Tracy Lee/CombatLifestyle.com.

NEW YORK - Rising stars Cory “The One” Devela (9-2) and Luke Rockhold (4-1) will face off with each other in a middleweight (185 pound) battle at the Strikeforce Challengers mixed martial arts (MMA) event at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington on Friday, June 19.

“I feel like a million bucks,” said the 24-year-old Devela, one of the sport’s most promising young talents who hails from Bonney Lake, Washington and is a member of the Dennis “Superman” Hallman led Team Victory that has pioneered a hybrid fighting style dubbed “Cowboy Karate.” “I know he’s mostly a submission guy and I’m strong at that so it should be a great fight.”

Devela notched his best victory to date before a home crowd when he scored a TKO over former UFC star Joe “Diesel” Riggs in the first round of their Strikeforce matchup at Tacoma, Washington’s Tacoma Dome on February 28, 2008. After earning a unanimous decision over his next opponent, however, Devela suffered a setback when he was suddenly stopped by Terry Martin with an overhand punch in the third round of their Strikeforce matchup at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, California on September 20, 2008.

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Villasenor vs. “Cyborg” Santos to Headline Strikeforce Challengers in June


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.

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Martin-Devela Set for Strikeforce on Sept. 20


Terry Martin. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

A middleweight bout between hard-hitting UFC veteran Terry Martin and rising prospect Cory Devela has been signed to take place at Strikeforce’s upcoming event at the Playboy Mansion on September 20th. The organization officially announced the bout this evening.

Devela picked up his biggest career win to date against longtime veteran Joe Riggs in a bout at “Strikeforce at the Dome” in February. Riggs succumbed to injury and re-injured his ailing back after being thrown onto the canvas by Devela. The injury required surgery but Riggs has since returned to active competition.

“I know he’s a short little brick house and a good wrestler, but I’ll have a lot of reach on him and I don’t think anybody’s wrestling compares to mine,” Devela said in a press release. “People underestimate my wrestling. Riggs did and got thrown because of that. I’m going to do the same thing to Terry if he wants to wrestle with me.”

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Riggs Has Surgery; Villasenor Fight in Doubt


Joe Riggs weighs-in for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Joe Riggs has successfully undergone surgery to repair nerve damage after re-injuring his surgically-repaired back in a middleweight contest against prospect Cory Devela at last weekend’s “Strikeforce at the Dome” event in Tacoma, Washington.

The news comes from a report by Josh Gross of Sherdog, who learned that Riggs underwent a procedure in which four scopes were used to freeze three separate nerves in his lower back that were pinched by a bulging disc, caused by a Devela judo throw during the bout.

Immediately tapping out after he hit the mat, it was obvious that Riggs was in extreme pain. Devela landed two right hands flush to a downed and submitting Riggs before the fight was halted by the referee.  A stretcher was called into the cage and Riggs was taken to nearby St. Joseph Medical Center where he remained overnight.

Riggs was also expected Riggs to go up against against Joey Villasenor at Strikeforce and EliteXC’s joint event on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. However his participation at the show no looks to be very doubtful according to Riggs’ manager, Kev Pavia. Pavia noted that he will attempt to have Riggs rematch Devela when he returns.

“Make sure Devala doesn’t fight anyone else,” Riggs told Pavia in the report. “I don’t want him exposed before I smash him.”

Sapp, Riggs Suffer Brutal Losses in the Dome


From tkduffy22 on Flickr.

Bob Sapp’s return to his home state of Washington didn’t go so well. The former NFL lineman and K-1 star was stopped by fellow kickboxer Jan Nortje in brutal fashion, stunning the 7,089 in attendance at the Tacoma Dome for last night’s Strikeforce and Bodog Fight co-promoted event.

After cutting Sapp with a series of stiff left jabs in the opening moments of the fight, Nortje followed up with a barrage of punches while his opponent was up against the cage. Seconds later, Sapp was on the receiving end of one final left hook that sent him crumpling to the canvas and forced the referee to wave off the proceedings.

The win was Nortje’s first in mixed martial arts since Tadao Yasuda was forced to bow out of their December 2002 bout because of injury. After the fight, Nortje (2-5) expressed his desire to compete under the Strikeforce banner in the future.

“It wasn’t luck,” Nortje said. “I trained my ass off for this fight. I knew Sapp was one hell of a job to take on, but I did it. Thanks to Scott Coker and Strikeforce, I’m going to keep doing this. This feels nice. This feels good.“

A disappointed Sapp (9-3-1) revealed a potential hamstring injury that may have hampered his performance during a post-fight interview.

“My hamstring buckled and I wasn’t able to get back up,” Sapp said. “I tried to move around a lot but it wasn’t working. Unfortunately I just couldn’t get it done today.”

After a brief exchange on the feet, Cory Devela put veteran Joe Riggs on his back for good just two minutes into their middleweight bout with a swift judo throw. Immediately tapping out after he hit the mat, it was obvious that Riggs was in extreme pain from what appeared to be an unconfirmed lower back injury.

Although Devela landed two right hands flush to a downed and submitting Riggs, it was evident that the injury was the main cause behind the former UFC welterweight title contender being unable to stand up. A stretcher was called into the cage and Riggs was taken to nearby St. Joseph Medical Center where he remained overnight before being released earlier this morning.

Devela, now 8-1, noted that he hoped Riggs (27-10) would fully recover from the injury after the fight.

After a few minutes, I knew that I probably shouldn’t be standing with him,” Devela said. “He’s a hard-hitting guy and I had a better chance of tying up with him and beating him up that way. I hate to see when a fighter gets hurt like that so I hope he’s alright and comes back hard.”

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Strikeforce at the Dome Weigh-In Results


Photo courtesy of FEG.

The official weigh-in results for tonight’s Strikeforce at the Dome show are below. All fighters successfully made weight.

The event feature a super heavyweight showdown between former NFL lineman and K-1 star Bob “The Beast” Sapp and Jan Nortje. Former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith will take on kickboxer Rick Roufus, who will be making his mixed martial arts debut.

The only minor hitch during the festivities involved Steve Berger, who needed an extra two hours to make the welterweight limit.

Bob Sapp (356 lbs) vs Jan Nortje (333 lbs)
Joe Riggs (184) lbs vs Cory Devela (184 lbs)
Maurice Smith (235 lbs) vs Rick Roufus (207 lbs)
Steve Berger (172 lbs) vs Eddy Ellis (168 lbs)
Jorge Masvidal (159 lbs) vs Ryan Healy (158 lbs)
Eric Clark (224 lbs) vs Josh Bennett (259 lbs)
Ray Perales (170 lbs) vs Lyle Beerbohm (168 lbs)
Matt Kovacs (244 lbs) vs Mike Hayes (230 lbs)
Scott Shaffer (144 lbs) vs Zach Skinner (143 lbs)
Dave Corshane (169 lbs) vs Nathan Coy (170 lbs)

Riggs, Ellis Added to “Strikeforce at the Dome”


Joe Riggs weighs-in for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Strikeforce Vice President Mike Afromowitz has announced that Joe “Diesel” Riggs and Eddy Ellis will now compete at the upcoming “Strikeforce at the Dome” event later this month as replacement opponents.

The show, which features a main event between former NFL lineman and popular Japanese fighter Bob “The Beast” Sapp going up against K-1 kickboxing star and undefeated professional boxer Jan “The Giant” Nortje, will take place on February 23rd at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.

Riggs will replace Cedric Marks, who was forced to pull out of his bout against Cory Devela after suffering a should injury during a recent training session. Riggs was expected to return to action in a potential bout against Joey Villasenor at Strikeforce and EliteXC’s joint event on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

However our friends at MMA Junkie are reporting that Riggs will compete at both shows.

“Joe stepped in to fight Cory, but he will still be fighting Joey next month,” Riggs’ manager Ken Pavia told them.

Ellis will be taking the place of Duane “Bang” Ludwig who has opted to sign on to face former PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi at World Victory Road’s “Sengoku” event instead of facing welterweight Steve Berger, whom Ellis will now take on.

The event will feature a total of ten bouts. The BodogFight-sponsored event will also be televised on HDNet.