Strikeforce Results: Rockhold Retains Middleweight Crown In Five-Round Battle; Marquardt Captures Welterweight Title
For the second time in under a year, Luke Rockhold found himself victorious at the final bell of a five-round title fight.
Rockhold (10-1) pressured and struck for five rounds, as he retained the Strikeforce middleweight championship with a unanimous decision over Kennedy in the Strikeforce “Rockhold vs. Kennedy” headliner on Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. All three cageside judges scored the bout in favor of Rockhold by matching 49-46 scores.
“The five-round wars suck, but hard work pays off,” Rockhold said. “I controlled the pace, I think. I stalked him most of the time and made him keep backing up. I defended all his takedowns, for the most part, and got a couple of my own.”
Marking his territory in the middle of the cage, the rangier and taller champion backed up Kennedy throughout the grueling 25-minute bout. The challenger seemed hesitant to unleash more than one punch at a time, and it cost him in the end. Rockhold countered effectively with straight lefts and right hooks, held his own in the clinch and stuffed a majority of Kennedy’s takedown attempts.
Rockhold connected on the most significant strike of the match in the fourth round, when he floored Kennedy with a right hand, followed him to the canvas and mounted him briefly. Kennedy (14-4) freed himself from the American Kickboxing Academy product's further attack but did nothing to push the champion outside of his comfort zone. Rockhold visibly cruised from there.
“I feel good, but I think I could have let some combinations go,” he said. “I loaded up a lot and tried to head hunt. He’s got some funky strikes. They’re unorthodox, and it’s hard to read sometimes when you know he’s going to shoot.
“Kennedy is a great wrestler; he’s so tenacious,” Rockhold added. “What he lacks in technique, he makes up for in his heart and desire. He just keeps coming. I knew I couldn’t get stale for a second.”
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship title contender Nate Marquardt dispatched the previously unbeaten Tyron Woodley with a collection of vicious fourth-round strikes against the cage to capture the vacant Strikeforce welterweight championship in the co-main event. Woodley was put to sleep 1:39 into round four.
Marquardt (32-10-2) was the superior fighter from the opening bell, as he smashed the two-time NCAA All-American wrestler with right hands throughout the bout. Woodley dropped his 33-year-old opponent with an overhand right of his own in the third round, followed him to the mat and let loose with some ground-and-pound. Marquardt kept his composure, with experience and toughness pulling him from the cusp of danger. By the end of the round, Woodley appeared to have little left in the tank.
That set the stage for the finish. Marquardt trapped Woodley on the cage, unleashed three violent standing elbows and sealed it with a left hook and thunderous right uppercut. Woodley (10-1) collapsed against the cage, tasting defeat for the first time in his career.
“He was out,” said Marquardt. “There’s no need for more.”
Decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Roger Gracie ran a grappling clinic on Keith Jardine in his middleweight debut, as he scored a unanimous decision over the UFC veteran. All three judges scored it for Gracie (5-1) by 29-27, 30-27 and 30-26 counts.
Gracie controlled the first two rounds. In the first, he shot for a pair of takedowns, mounted Jardine and opened a pair of cuts near his foe's left eye with a series of elbow strikes. The scene would be the same in round two, but Gracie also transitioned to Jardine’s back, trapped him in a body triangle and threatened him with chokes. Blood stained both fighters but “The Dean of Mean” denied the decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s advances and pushed the fight deeper.
Jardine (17-11-2) landed his most significant blow of the bout in the third round, when he dazed Gracie with a sharp right uppercut. However, he failed to follow it up with anything meaningful and let the tiring Gracie off the hook.
“I’m very happy. I was able to do my game plan,” Gracie said. “At one point, it got too slippery. His blood: it soaked me all over, and I couldn’t stay on top of him. I think the striking is what kept me stable on top. The third round, I got quite tired, but I was able to use my long reach and keep him away.”
Lorenz Larkin earned the most notable victory of his career, as he took a unanimous decision from UFC vet and former EliteXC champ Robbie Lawler in a middleweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for the unbeaten Larkin (13-0).
Lawler (19-9) landed a short right hand to the temple and had the California native back peddling in the first round, but his follow-up attack did not score him the desired finish. Larkin recovered, bounced back later in the round and did some picture-perfect work in close quarters with knees, punches and elbows.
For much of the rest of the bout, Lawler’s heavy hands remained sparse. Larkin stepped up his attack with some more multi-pronged striking, as he cut his opponent on the top of the head with a grazing kick in the second round. Blood streamed down Lawler’s face. Nothing changed down the stretch, and Larkin put an exclamation point on the win with three vicious standing elbows late in round three.
Strikeforce: "Rockhold vs. Kennedy" quick results:
Main Card (Showtime)
Luke Rockhold def. Tim Kennedy via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Nate Marquardt def. Tyron Woodley via KO (punch) at 1:39 of round 4
Roger Gracie def. Keith Jardine via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Lorenz Larkin def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme)
Pat Healy def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Ryan Couture def. Joe Duarte via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jorge Masvidal def. Justin Wilcox via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Jordan Mein def. Tyler Stinson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jason High def. Nate Moore via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:26 of round 1