(Hendo celebrates. Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com)
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Multiple belts were up for grabs in Columbus, Ohio and Moscow on Saturday and eight welterweights started their pursuit of another in Lemoore, Calif. There was a lot of movement in our rankings so lets get to it.
The biggest card of the weekend was Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Hendo. The card, which featured a championship fight at Light Heavyweight as well as a Women’s 135-pound title tilt, was held in conjunction with the annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. In the main event, Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante defended his title against PRIDE great and UFC veteran Dan Henderson. The challenger came in as a favorite and took the belt by TKO, creeps up from #3 to #2 in the Light Heavyweight Rankings while “Feijao” slips from #12 to #14. Strikeforce now has a popular, recognizable American champ at #205, setting up possible challenges from former champs Gegard Mousasi (#8) and former Henderson training partner Mo Lawal (#11).
Strikeforce Women’s 135-Pound Champion Marloes Coenen defended her title with a fourth round submission victory over Liz Carmouche. Carmouche had the fight won on the scorecards before getting finished and will likely place well when FIGHT! publishes its women’s rankings later this year.
Adrift in the division and having increasing difficulty finding opponents, Tim Kennedy moved from #28 to #25 in the Middleweight Rankings after submitting KO artist Melvin Manhoef, who fell from #73 to #78. If Kennedy isn’t going to get a rematch with Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza (#3) anytime soon then Strikeforce needs to give him a quality opponent and fast. The promotion has depth at 185 with “Mayhem” Miller (#18), Siyar Bahadurzada (#21) – if they can ever get his visa issues sorted out – Robbie Lawler (#24), and Luke Rockhold (#32). If they have to reach outside of the organization, Paulo Filho (#16), Denis Kang (#17), Tom Watson (#31), and Matt Horwich (#38) are out there. Bottom line, keep your guys busy, Strikeforce.
The other noteworth match ups on the card took place at lightweight, where perennial “Challenger” Billy Evangelista took on new Strikeforce signee Jorge Masvidal. “Gamebred” outlasted Evangelista, jumping from #65 to #42 in the Lightweight Rankings, while Evangelista fell from #70 to #100. On the undercard, UFC vet Jorge Gurgel vaulted from #162 to #76 with a quick submission win over unranked Billy Vaughn.
Across the country in Lemoore, Calif., Bellator 35 kicked off the promotion’s fourth season with four welterweight tournament qualifier match ups and a 125-pound, non-title super fight between Bellator Women’s 115-Pound Champion Zoila Frausto and Karina Hallinan. Again, when FIGHT! publishes our women’s rankings later this year, Frausto will likely be at or near the top of the heap at 115 pounds.
Jay Hieron was and is the highest-ranked fighter participating in the tourney, but he actually slipped a spot in the Welterweight Rankings, from #18 to #19, after taking a controversial submission victory over Anthony Lapsley. This is due to guys leapfrogging him in the top 20. His value remains unchanged, but he’ll need strong performances against highly-ranked fighters to gain ground. Lapsley actually moved up one spot, from #71 to #70, again because of the movement occurring around him.
Former Bellator tournament finalist Dan Hornbuckle lost an unpopular decision to Brent Weedman, falling from #60 to #105, while Weedman climbed from #92 to #47 with the win. In the final quarterfinal bout, judoka’s Rick Hawn and Jim Wallhead kickboxed to a decision with Hawn entering the rankings at #76 following his win.
(Gugenishvili defeats Grishin. Photo courtesy of M-1 Global.)
Two belts were on the line in Moscow at M-1 Challenge XXIII. M-1 Global Welterweight Champion Shamil Zavurov dispatched challenger Tom Gallicchio early, moving from #34 to #23 in the Welterweight Rankings with the win, while Gallicchio falls from #57 to #73. In the other title tilt, M-1 Heavyweight Champion Guram Gugenishvilli took out Maxim Grishin and jumped from #36 to #22 in the Heavyweight Rankings. Grishin slid from #41 to #58.
Several other noteworthy fighters, including two UFC vets, competed on smaller stages this weekend. Jens Pulver headlined Chicago Cagefighting Championship and took a split decision from unranked Wade Choate and continued to slide in the Featherweight Rankings, falling from #74 to #81. At Bantamweight, Chase Beebe moved from #63 to #55 with a win over unranked Steve Kinnisen. Felice Herrig also picked up a win on the card and will likely place well when we publish women’s rankings later this year.
In Liverpool, England, OMMAC 9: Enemies was headlined by Zelg Galesic, who moved from #67 to #41 in the Middleweight Rankings with a win over previously unranked Lee Chadwick. Chadwick entered the rankings at #140 following the loss.
At the Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, Keith Jardine put away Aron Lofton, moving up to #54 in the Light Heavyweight Rankings with his win over Aron Lofton – Lofton slipped to #110. Former boxing champ Holly Holm made a successful pro MMA debut on the card as well.