Photo by Jon Swenson, Sharkspage
Jorge Santiago needed less than three minutes in order to capture the state of California and Strikeforce’s first-ever four-man mixed martial arts tournament last night.
Santiago scored victories over Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley in front of 8,233 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA.
Both Santiago and Prangley headed into the tournament in relatively good shape considering they had each fought earlier in the evening. They decided to keep the bout on the feet during the opening moments of their fight. Santiago battered Prangley with a flurry of leg kicks early on, connecting with one that knocked Prangley to the ground.
Santiago continued to stalk Prangley connecting with a number of unanswered punches and kicks. Santiago connected with a knee to the body and followed it up with a right hand that sent Prangley to the canvas. Santiago pounced on him and following up with another right hand but referee Jon Schorle decided that Prangley had enough and stopped the fight.
After the fight, Santiago admitted that sticking to his game plan ultimately won him the fight:
“I’ve been studying his game for a long time and I knew that he was a tough guy,” said Santiago. “I knew that he was probably going to try and take me down and drop some bombs. I just stuck to my game. I saw the best time to go and I took over.”
Earlier in the night, Santiago scored a scary knockout of Salmon in just 24 seconds.
Santiago connected with a flying knee directly on the chin of a bent-over Salmon. Salmon immediately fell to the canvas unconscious and then had a small seizure according to California State Athletic Commission director Armando Garcia. Eventually Salmon came to and attempted to stand on his own power but paramedics decided to strap him on a stretcher.
Salmon was taken to Valley Medical Center in San Jose where he underwent a CT scan that found no bleeding of the brain or skull fractures. Garcia announced after the bout that Salmon is medically suspended indefinitely. Garcia also stated that he would consider Salmon’s career in “jeopardy”.
Prangley reached the tournament final after earning the nod from referee Marcos Rosales in a strange opening-round bout.
Falaniko Vitale took the first round from Prangley on the feet after out-landing the South African native. Vitale brushed off a Prangley takedown attempt and landed some hard knees in the clinch. Prangley responded with a flurry of knees in another clinch that dazed Vitale. Vitale recovered and went on to pick Prangley apart with uppercuts and right hooks for the remainder of the round.
The second round saw Prangley turn the tide and start to out-strike Vitale in the opening minute. Vitale then caught an unintentional finger to the eye. The fight was stopped and the doctor determined that Vitale was unable to continue because of spasms in his eye.
Now here comes an odd string of events…
Instead of Prangley being announced the winner by technical knockout, the bout went to the judge’s scorecards who ruled the fight as a majority draw. Apparently earlier that night before the event, CSAC officials ruled that the referee would make the final decision in the event of a draw in the tournament. Rosales went ahead and declared Prangley the victor.
It was reported that Vitale regained full vision before the event was over last night.
Dennis Hallman submitted last-minute replacement Jeremiah Metcalf in the very first fight of the night.
Hallman caught Metcalf in a guillotine early on but Metcalf was able to escape. A sloppy exchange between the two on the feet saw Hallman shoot down for Metcalf’s leg and lock in a heel hook which ultimately forced Metcalf to tap out less than two minutes into the fight.
Overeem Wins Strikeforce Heavyweight Title
Alistair Overeem became the first-ever Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion when he submitted Paul Buentello in the second round.
Those expected a war on the feet between the two potent striker saw Overeem opt to take the fight to the ground in the first round. Overeem caught Buentello in a neck crank and then two different guillotines in the opening stanza. Judges saw Overeem’s efforts as enough to award him a 10-8 round on all scorecards.
The second round saw a desperate Buentello wing wild punches at Overeem, who was able to step aside from the shots. Overeem clinched with Buentello and then delivered two knees to the body that sent Buentello falling to the canvas in pain. Buentello screamed as he tapped out and ended his four-fight winning streak.
After the fight, Overeem stated that he expected to stay heavyweigh champion for quite a while.
“This belt is mine,” said Overeem. “It’s going with me back to Holland and it’s going to stay with me for a long time.”
Le Stops Morgan, Challenges Shamrock
Cung Le took his skills all over the cage before stopping Ultimate Fighter alumnus Sam Morgan in the third round.
Le stunned Morgan with a body shot before quickly taking him down in the opening moments of the first round. Le stood back up and landed an array of kicks and punches while taking Morgan multiple times throughout the round. The second round saw much of the same and ended with Le pounding away at Morgan while trapping his opponent in a crucifix.
After a slow exchange on the feet to start the final round, Le dropped Morgan with a right hand. Le stayed on his feet instead of pouncing on a hurt Morgan and allowed him to stand up again. Le then connected with a vicious kick to the body and that sent Morgan falling back to the mat. The referee immediately waved off the bout and Le stayed undefeated thus far in his professional MMA career.
Morgan was taken to the same medical center as Salmon for observation after he vomited multiple times after the fight.
After the fight, Le got on the microphone and challenged former UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock, who gladly accepted. The two are expected to meet at Strikeforce’s next event in March where it was announced last night that Josh Thomson would challenge Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce Lightweight Title.
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