Photo Credit: Esther Lin / STRIKEFORCE
HOUSTON – Hard-hitting striker Rafael Feijao shocked STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Champion “King Mo” Lawal with a devastating third round knockout in Saturday’s SHOWTIME® televised main event at STRIKEFORCE: Houston at Toyota Center.
In a tactical co-feature, world-class submission specialist Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza captured the vacant STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight (185 pounds) Championship with a unanimous decision over American military hero Tim Kennedy.
In an all-action fight, Mo (7-1) was the aggressor in the first, scoring a body slam in the opening minute of the round. But, Feijao (10-2) was unfazed by the take down and got to his feet without suffering any significant damage.
After trading punches in the second, Feijao came out swinging in the third. He landed a few strong combinations and caught Mo with a powerful knee. Clearly wounded, Mo tried to take his opponent to the ground to minimize the damage but, while locked up standing, Feijao battered Mo with a series of brutal slashing elbows to Mo’s head, knocking him out at 1:14.
“I hit him hard with the right hand and the knee,” Feijao said. “I saw he was hurt, but I was just going to continue to hit him. I felt his grip loosening and knew that he was done.
“I have a new coach in boxing and Muay Thai that made the difference. “I just made my dream. I saw in his last fight he wanted to get inside. My strategy worked perfectly.”
A wounded Mo was disappointed but not dejected in his performance.
“I just got to make a few adjustments,” Mo said. “He fought a hell of a fight, but I’m not worried. I’ll come back stronger.”
Jacare (13-2-1) wasn’t able to get Kennedy to the ground, but his effective and relentless counterpunching was the difference maker in the fight.
A deep gash opened up over Kennedy’s left eye early in the third round. Kennedy (12-3) tried taking the fight to the mat, but it was ineffective against Jacare, who was the superior striker landing the harder, crisper punches.
Kennedy continued to attack Jacare throughout the fight, never giving up, but was unable to land anything that hurt his opponent.
“I felt through the fight that he felt my hand,” Jacare said. “I was landing some big punches and I thought I was winning the fight. I was ready to fight everywhere in the cage, but I was surprised how strong he was. He was strong, but I was the one connecting and landing the damaging punches.”
Kennedy, who landed more punches with a higher percentage, was a bit surprised in the unanimous decision loss.
“I was really frustrated with the end result,” Kennedy said. “Jacare is an amazing contender and now a champion. I was humbled that I was able to go five rounds with him, but I think it goes without saying that I’d like another five rounds with that guy. It’s going to be different.
“We’re talking about the most decorated grappler in the planet. I expected him to want to grapple. He countered with me the whole time and I was surprised. I should have put more pressure on him. The only time anyone got dropped in the fight was when I dropped him, but he’s got the belt.”
In a featured lightweight (155 pounds) bout, KJ Noons scored a second round KO (:19) over fearless brawler and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Jorge Gurgel in a short, but spectacular match.
The two exchanged powerful punches in the first, but a powerful and controversial blow from Noons a split second after the sound of the closing bell for the first round proved to be the difference. Noons (10-2) came out swinging in the second, landing an overhand right followed by a left hook that sent Gurgel (13-7) flying to the canvas. He followed it up with punches on the ground, but the fight was clearly over as Gurgel could not recover.
“By any means am I a dirty fighter, no,” Noons said. “I was just going in there to try to engage and get the round. I was in the heat of the moment and I couldn’t stop my hands as they were going. It wasn’t cheap and I’m not trying to be dirty – I’m just trying to finish the fight. I didn’t’ intentionally do it, it’s just the rush.
“I thought it was a great fight. He had a really good game plan. He was moving around the ring and was trying to get me to engage more. I just knew I had to not over commit on my punches and my kicks and I’d be able to keep standing. I’m not surprised he didn’t take me down.”
Gurgel didn’t make any excuses or complaints in losing.
“I apparently got hit a couple of times when the round was up, but it’s not KJ’s fault,” Gurgel said. The referee is responsible for separating the fighters. I’m not taking anything away from (KJ) He landed a good right hand and a left hook.
“I have no excuses whatsoever. I came up short in my performance and I’m really upset. I thought I had his number. I’ve never been rocked before. I’ve had 20 professional fights and I’ve never felt that. KJ is a world class fighter.”
In the opening fight of the SHOWTIME telecast, Chad Griggs won an upset, TKO victory over previously unbeaten Bobby Lashley at the end of the second round.
An experienced and talented wrestler, Lashley immediately took the fight to the ground in the first round. He expended a lot of energy trying to hit Griggs (9-1) while on the ground, but Griggs was able to counter and opened up a gushing cut over Lashley’s left eye.
Once again, Lashley (5-1) took the fight to the ground in the second, but his punches didn’t do enough damage to the more experienced Griggs. The cut worsened with Lashley apparently gassed in the closing moments of the second round and the referee called the bout immediately following the conclusion of the round.
“This is a dream come true fighting for STRIKEFORCE. I got offered a big fight right off the bat and I’m super pumped I got the win,” Griggs said. “I know he was bleeding all over me. I think he was tired and he was hurt already. I think it was a good call to end it.
“I felt him starting to fade a little bit at the end of the first round. I could hear him breathing really hard and could feel him using a lot of muscle to land punches. I was comfortable because he wasn’t really catching me and he was using a lot of energy. I don’t think that he’s really been hit before or been tested. I could see it in his eyes that the fight was changing. He was still hustling, but I think he was losing some heart in there.”
The event will replay on Monday, Aug. 23 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on SHO 2 and will be available On Demand from Tuesday, Aug. 24 until Monday, Sept. 6.
Complete STRIKEFORCE: Houston Results:
STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight Championship
Rafael Feijao def. “King Mo” Lawal – KO (elbows) – Round 3 (1:14)
STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight Championship
Jacare Souza def. Tim Kennedy – Unanimous Decision – 49-46, 48-47 twice.
KJ Noons def. Jorge Gurgel – KO (strikes)– Round 2 (:19)
Chad Griggs def. Bobby Lashley – TKO – End of Round 2
Daniel Cormier def. Jason Riley – Submission (strikes) – Round 1 (1:02)
Andre Galvao – def. Jorge “Macaco” Patino – TKO (strikes) – Round 3 (2:45)
Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes – def. Rocky Long – Unanimous Decision – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
Adam Schindler def. Kier Gooch – Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Reynaldo “The Truth” Trujillo def. Jose Santibanez – TKO (Strikes)
Chad “Robo” Robichaux def. Humberto DeLeon – Split Decision – 29-28 (Robichaux), 29-28 (DeLeon), 29-28 (Robichaux)
Artenas Young def. Chad Cook, – Unanimous decision – 30-27, 298-28, 30-27