05/19/2012 09:45:11 PM PDT
On a night that generally did not go well for San Jose-based mixed martial artists, Daniel Cormier provided a notable exception.
Cormier won the Ultimate Fighting Championship Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix by unanimous decision Saturday night, beating Josh Barnett before a packed lower bowl at HP Pavilion.
Cormier was the lone local winner out of three on the main card. Josh Thomson wound up on the wrong end of a controversial split decision in his world championship lightweight bout against Gilbert Melendez, while Mike Kyle tapped out of his light heavyweight match against Rafael Cavalcante in a mere 33 seconds.
And in a preliminary lightweight match, another San Jose-based fighter, James Terry, lost by split decision to Bobby Green.
A former NCAA wrestling champion who competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Cormier’s wrestling background came in handy Saturday night. Cormier (10-0, 6-0 in Strikeforce bouts) kept Barnett (31-6, 2-1) pinned to the mat for most of the second round after a single-leg takedown and drew roars from the crowd by body-slamming Barnett in the third and fourth.
Though Cormier’s win came in the main event, it was underwhelming compared to the bout that preceded it. Melendez held on to his world lightweight title in that bout even though it ended with Thomson straddling a fallen Melendez and landing a series of facial blows following a wrestling-style takedown.
Thomson, in fact, won the final.
A chorus of boos rained down from the crowd after the judges’ decision was announced.
“Please don’t boo Gilbert,” Thomson told the crowd. “He’s one of the best fighters in the world. If I’m going to lose to somebody, I’m glad it’s him.”
Himself a former Strikeforce world champion, Thomson (19-5 with one no contest, 9-3 in Strikeforce bouts) and Melendez (21-2, 11-1) have developed quite a rivalry. The two have faced off in the octagon three times, with Melendez winning twice.
Thomson dropped Melendez with a single-leg takedown early in the first round, but Melendez later answered by trapping him to the mat near the southern edge of the octagon. After that, they spent most of the first and second rounds dancing around the octagon until Melendez grabbed Thomson underneath the buttocks, took him down and pinned him against the fence on the eastern side of the octagon.
Thomson started regaining momentum in the third round when he landed a shot to Melendez’s chin and later connected on several quick blows to Melendez’s upper body. Thomson also drew some “ohs” from the crowd in the fourth round when Meledez dodged a right cross, only to have Thomson’s left uppercut strike his jaw.
Melendez responded with a pair of wrestling-style takedowns, but Thomson won the round by getting him in a chokehold near the octagon’s southeastern edge and keeping him there for the most of the round’s final two minutes.
“He fought a great fight,” Thomson said. “Tonight wasn’t my night.”
With the win, Cavalcante (11-3, 5-2) avenged a previous Strikeforce loss to Kyle (19-9-1, 3-4-1),
Daniel Cormier was born on March 20th, 1979 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Cormier
March 20th, 1979
3 + 20 +1+9+7+9 = 49 = his life lesson = Smiling. Happy. Satisfied.
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