Beard = Violence for Robbie Lawler. Photo by Esther Lin/Strikeforce
Fireworks were expected Saturday at "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu," there's no doubt about that. What fans got from Scottrade Center in St. Louis was a night of violence that is not often touched in the world of MMA.
Even the most bloodthirsty fan has to be more than content with the savage amount of brutality displayed inside the Strikeforce cage.
Prospect Ovince St. Preux got things start by dominating Benji Radach, putting up scorecard totals of 30-27, 30-26 and yes, 30-25 on the long-time MMA veteran. That was just the start of things.
Although most of the fights on this night were one-sided beatings, both Antonio Silva and Mike Kyle got in on the action in their heavyweight fight. Kyle, a heavy underdog as a late replacement, dropped Silva with his second punch of the fight and dominated the entire first round, one that I scored 10-8 for Kyle. Once he got up and off his back, though, Silva dominated. He took Kyle down to start the second round, eventually mounting him and raining down blows while holding Kyle by the throat, knocking him out and forcing a stoppage.
Former EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler made it known he's still a contender in Strikeforce by nearly decapitating Matt Lindland in just 50 seconds. Lawler cranked Lindland with a right, planting him on his face and Lindland quickly turned over to find Lawler right there with a devastating finishing blow. Lindland stayed down on the canvas for quite sometime before being helped to the stool, still looking extremely unwell. This is the second time Lindland has been brutally knocked out in the last two years and might be a signal for him to call it a career.
Everyone knew someone was going down when Paul Daley and Scott Smith met and, to little surprise, the man tasting canvas was indeed Smith. Daley rocked Smith in the early-going before severely staggering him a bit later. A wobbly Smith walked right into a devastating left hook and literally ate canvas, falling face-first to the floor, nearly dead to the world.
In the main event, quite frankly, I expected a slower, more plodding affair. Instead, Dan Henderson took advantage of a mistake by Renato Sobral and knocked him out on the ground with some vicious ground-and-pound in just 1:53. Henderson just teed off on an already unconscious "Babalu" while referee John McCarthy just stood there as a spectator and allowed Sobral to take several hard, unnecessary shots to the head. Henderson again establishes himself as a player in Strikeforce with the win.
All in all, what "The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale" was for decisions, "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu" was for violence. Both shows certainly had their moments and featured good fights, but on this night, for pure action, Strikeforce comes out on top. Plus, there were no absolute hosejobs in St. Louis. A great night to be an MMA fan, that's for certain.