All in all, I thought the show was pretty good. My only gripe is that there was some terrible refereeing, and I know Strikeforce can't really control that. We got to see some good scraps and a another female possibly separating herself from the rest of the pack ala Gina Carano and Cyborg. Let's take a look at the fights:
-Luke Rockhold absolutely destroyed Cory Devala pretty quickly. The only thing to mention about this fight is that the referee let Devala take entirely too much punishment, not to mention multiple shots to the back of the head.
-Sarah Kaufman and Shayna Baszler went at it for the full 3 rounds in a spirited battle. We saw Baszler nearly finish Kaufman with a weird looking choke submission, only to see Kaufman reverse her for some GnP. Actually, after that point it was pretty much all Kaufman as she gave Baszler a beating in the stand up department. I have to give Baszler credit though, she's tough as nails and hung in there to the end. Good fight, and as I mentioned Kaufman may have separated herself from the rest of the female pack with that performance.
-Jorge "I don't use my BJJ" Gurgel and Conor Heun waged an absolute war. I still have no idea why Gurgel chooses to have standup wars, because he takes entirely too much damage when doing so. You could see if grappling pedigree when it did hit the floor, as he swept Heun with the quickness. I have a lot of respect for Heun though. He took some massive shots and was still stalking Gurgel to the very end. Good fight. Oh, the referee in this fight was terrible. He kept saying "Action" when the guys were definitely working, I mean Gurgel was passing Heun's guard when the referee said that!
-Tim Kennedy against Nick Thompson was a good technical fight while it lasted. I have no idea why Thompson tapped out in the second round. It seemed as if he took a few illegal shots to the back of the head and decided to tap out, but didn't appear hurt afterwards. Kennedy was winning the fight up to that point though as he was controlling the action on the ground and landed the more significant shots. Nice showing for Kennedy after being out of action for over a year.
-Joey Villasenor and Cyborg Santos was a razor close fight. Villasenor took the first round and Santos took the second round, so the winner would be the guy that took the third. Santos landed some shots and got a successful takedown landing a little GnP. Villasenor was able to get back to his feet and land some shots as well. He dictated the pace in the last round and may have landed more significant shots giving him the split decision. Very good showing for both fighters.
The Strikeforce Challengers series is a great way for Strikeforce to build up and coming fighters and I think they did that on last night. Kaufmann got her name out there, Kennedy proved he's a threat in the middleweight division as did Villasenor. The pacing of the fights was pretty good considering three fights went the distance. Oh, and did I mention that women fighting with 5 minute rounds get a BIG thumbs up! What did you think of the event?