Lavar Johnson def. Lolohea Mahe via TKO - Round 2, 3:29
Abongo Humphrey def. George Bush III via submission (guillotine choke) - R1, 1:44
Andre Galvao def. Luke Stewart via split decision
Miesha Tate def. Zoila Frausto via submission (armbar) - Round 2, 4:09
Justin Wilcox def. Shamar Bailey via unanimous decision
Daniel Cormier def. John Devine by TKO (strikes) R1
Paul Ruiz def. John Chacon by Unanimous Decision
Ricky Jackson def. Trinidad Valdez by TKO (strikes) at 1:59 R1
Avery Kaleo def. Chris Buron via Split Decision
Hometown favorite Lavar “Big” Johnson scored a second round TKO over previously unbeaten Lolohea Mahe at 3:28 in the main event of the SHOWTIME televised STRIKEFORCE Challengers event on Friday night at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.
After a good exchange in the first, Johnson (14-3), a heavyweight from Fresno, Calif., who was fighting for the first time since a near-death assault last summer, came out swinging in the second round, landing punch after punch and choking Mahe.
Clearly gassed, Mahe (6-1-1), who had cut weight from 320 pounds for the bout, stood defenseless to Johnson’s attack as the round wore on. Johnson’s repeated right hooks sent him to the canvas where he continued unleashing power shots while Mahe was on his knees, forcing the referee to come in and call the fight.
“I’m glad to be back,” said Johnson, who was recently medically cleared to return to the cage following extensive rehab from the bullet wounds that left him hospitalized for over a month. “The guy hits hard. That’s probably the toughest fight I’ve ever had.
“He was strong, he took a lot out of me when he was grabbing onto me. I don’t t think I’ve been hit that hard yet. It gives me a lot of confidence about where I am right now as a fighter. It’s just good to be back.”
Tired and wounded, Mahe was visibly disappointed with his conditioning and performance.
“I just gassed out,” Mahe said. “I just got winded in the second and didn’t have enough left in me. I cut a lot of weight in such a short time. He had power, but I’ve been hit harder. He was just in better shape.”
In the quickest fight of the evening, Abongo Humphrey submitted (guillotine) George Bush III at 1:44 of the first round.
Humphrey (6-1), a talented kickboxer who was fighting as a light heavyweight for the first time, looked comfortable taking the fight to the ground as he quickly got Bush (5-2) into a submission less than two minutes into the contest.
“It feels great at 205 (pounds),” Humphrey said. “This was my first submission win, so I’m ecstatic. I felt really good in there, but I did feel a little ring rust.
“He tried to throw me off my game a little bit with those leg kicks, but I adjusted. When he tried to take me to the ground I felt really comfortable. My ground game has really improved, and it was nice to prove that I’m not just a striker. I’m just happy that it happened this way.”
In the third televised fight of the night, Andre Galvao won a close split-decision victory over Luke Stewart, scored 30-27 Stewart, 30-27 Galvao, 29-28 Galvao.
In a fight that seesawed from standup to the mat, both Galvao (4-1) and Stewart (6-3) failed to gain much momentum or control. But, in the end, Galvao was able to do more damage and squeak out a close victory.
“Luke is pretty tough,” Galvao said. “He definitely surprised me on the ground. I got a little tired in the middle rounds, but I’ve been waiting for this shot. I think I over-trained because I’ve had a few fights cancelled, but I’m so happy. I got more experience in there and next time I’ll look for a KO or submission.”
Stewart was disappointed he left the fight to the judges and wasn’t able to finish it himself.
“It was a really tough fight,” Stewart said. “I shouldn’t have let it be that close, but I know I did more damage. Maybe he controlled more, but I felt I did enough to win.
“I’m really disappointed. I should have pushed it more and not left it in the judges’ hands. I had four sweeps that were difficult so I thought I should have gotten more points for those.”
In the only female fight of the evening, Miesha “Takedown”’ Tate shocked the crowd and submitted (armbar) hometown favorite Zoila “Warrior Princess” Frausto at 4:09 of the second round.
A talented wrestler, Tate (9-2) was able to take the fight to the ground, and Frausto surprisingly seemed willing to stray from her gameplan. A more experienced ground specialist, Tate maneuvered Frausto (5-1) in an armbar, forcing the previously unbeaten fighter to tap out in front of her hometown fans.
“She came to fight, she’s a tough girl,” Tate said. “I don’t think she was willing to go to the ground with me, but I made her. She kept moving around very well, but I had her winded. She wouldn’t give up in that armbar, but she had to after a while.”
After the fight, Frausto realized it was a mistake to stay on the ground against an opponent whose nickname is “Takedown.”
“I left myself open too much on the ground,” Frausto said. “I tried to find a way out, but she was too tough. I tried to keep it standing up, but I was a little too stubborn. I wanted to test my ground game against her and I should have stuck to standing up. I guess that’s how you learn.”
In the opening fight of the telecast, Justin Wilcox improved his record to 9-3 with a dominating unanimous decision victory over previously once-beaten Shamar Bailey (13-2).
A talented kickboxer, Wilcox came out swinging in the first and bloodied Bailey’s face, forcing the referee to call in the doctor to check on him. Things didn’t get much better for Bailey after that, as the two continued to trade punches and kicks with Wilcox landing the majority of the damaging blows.
“My shin hurts and my right hand hurts, so he’s definitely got a good chin,” Wilcox said. “I’m definitely getting better each time, but I need to improve if I want that title. I’m always looking for the finish, but I just need to be more patient. They’ll come.”
STRIKEFORCE Challengers is a proving ground for up-and-coming MMA fighters. The series is designed to provide today’s top prospects with the opportunity to step-up their level of competition and demonstrate their ability in a nationally televised event.
Friday’s fights will re-air on Tuesday, March 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME 2. The telecast will also be available On Demand beginning Monday, March 29 and running through Sunday, April 11.
Tomorrow, Saturday, on SHOWTIME, Super Six World Boxing Classic standings leader “King” Arthur Abraham and will take on Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell in the first fight of Group Stage 2 of the tournament from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., live on SHOWTIME at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
The Armenian Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs) currently leads the Super Six point standings with three points by way of his last-second knockout against American Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor Oct. 17 in Berlin, Germany. The former middleweight bronze medalist at the 2004 Summer Olympics from Flint, Mich., Dirrell (18-1, 13 KOs) dropped a close 12-round decision to Carl Froch for the World Boxing Council (WBC) World Championship the same night in Nottingham, England.
This fight will be available to a record 54.4 million households as part of the SHOWTIME ALL ACCESS Free Preview Weekend on SHOWTIME, SHOWTIME HD™ and SHOWTIME On Demand. From Thursday, March 25 through Sunday, March 28, viewers across the country will have the opportunity to sample the premium network’s award-winning programming via linear service, On Demand and in HD, including two live events from SHOWTIME Sports.
There is absolutely no excuse for Strikeforce/Showtime to film this fight and rather than use the THIRTY MINUTES left in the scheduled broadcast to showcase the fight of a former Olympic wrestler just end the show. This is just awful, awful time management and a pointless waste of Cormier. If he wasn't going to make the broadcast, even if time allowed, then why not save him for a different Challengers show?
The same kind of problems come up when they have fighters like Shamar Bailey, who fought on the most important Strikeforce card to date, have no video to showcase prior to their fight. Bailey fought and won on the first CBS event. But the promotion/network didn't film the undercard and as such there was no film to use during the pre-fight.
There are growing pains, and then there is common sense. Unfortunately a very solid Challengers show has the cloud of a wasted Olympian's effort hanging over it.
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