Villasenor Takes Split Nod Over ‘Cyborg’

By Mike Whitman Jun 20, 2009
KENT, Wash. -- “Smokin” Joey Villasenor edged out Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) over three grueling rounds in the main event of ShoMMA’s StrikeForce Challengers 2 at the ShoWare Center on Friday.

Santos opened round one by whipping multiple cringe-worthy leg kicks into Villasenor’s left thigh before the Greg Jackson-trained fighter decided he’d had enough and secured a takedown. From top position, Villasenor (27-6) controlled Santos but was unable to inflict major punishment before Santos escaped back to his feet.

In round two, Villasenor looked much more comfortable in the standup, doubling up on his jab and countering Cyborg’s leg kicks with straight right hands. Santos (16-13) fought back, however, and continued to work the leg kicks, hurting Villasenor and instilling a sense of urgency in the New Mexico fighter. Wading through Santos’ kicks and punches, Villasenor pressed the action, and the two traded until the bell sounded.

Starting the third round with a noticeable limp, Villasenor continued to eat more leg kicks before clinching against the fence and giving up a takedown. The groundwork would be brief, as Villasenor scrambled to his feet and again pressed forward, cutting Santos above his left eye. Exhausted, both fighters looked for the one-shot knockout, but neither could find the magic button as the fans in attendance cheered wildly till the final bell.

“I think [StrikeForce middleweight champion] Cung Le is sitting back watching all these fights, and he’s shaking in his boots,” said Villasenor of his title aspirations. “I’d really like to fight Cung Le.”

In an absolute barnburner, former UFC lightweight contender Jorge Gurgel took a hard-fought unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 29-28) over IFL veteran Conor “Hurricane” Heun. Both fighters began the fight by throwing bombs, but Gurgel (13-5) got the better of the exchanges early, knocking Heun down and snapping out stinging leg kicks. Heun would not go quietly, however, and finished the round strong, pressing the fight and cutting Gurgel below his right eye.

Round two looked strikingly similar to the first period, with Gurgel ignoring his Brazilian jiu-jitsu expertise and choosing instead to trade. Both fighters sustained significant damage, and the crowd erupted during each frantic exchange. Gurgel scored on multiple head kicks, even as his right eye began to swell shut and trickle blood.

The final stanza brought more of the same to the table, as both fighters, spent from throwing leather, tried to finish the fight. Heun (8-3) knocked Gurgel down in the latter half of the round and followed him to the mat. Gurgel quickly swept him from the bottom and worked his way to side control before abandoning the idea for more standup action. The crowd applauded the efforts of both fighters.

Former U.S. Army Ranger Tim Kennedy stopped Minnesota Martial Arts Academy product Nick “The Goat” Thompson 2:32 into round two, causing Thompson to tap out to strikes from back-side control.

Both fighters traded leg kicks to start the contest before Kennedy shot in for a takedown. Thompson (38-11-1) tried to scramble out, but exposed his back in the process. This chain of events was repeated several times and carried into round two, as Kennedy (10-2) showed off his superior ground game before finally finishing the fight.

In a 135-pound contest, undefeated Sarah Kaufman earned a unanimous victory over Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler in the evening’s only women’s matchup with scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

After a short feeling-out process, both fighters began to throw leather before Baszler (9-6) scored with an outside leg trip, landing in Kaufman’s guard before passing the legs to look for an unconventional knee-to-head North-South choke. Kaufman (10-0) escaped, and the referee restarted the fight standing. The two battled in the clinch, but were unable to inflict any real damage before round one ended.

Fighting in spite of a large mouse over her right eye, Kaufman was able to dictate the pace of the second round, landing straight shots to Baszler’s mug and peppering her left thigh with leg kicks.

In round three, a bloodied Baszler tried to take the fight to the mat, but each time Kaufman landed in top position and stood up. From there, she continued to work her combinations, outclassing the Josh Barnett protégé just as Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos did in Baszler’s last fight.

“She’s a really tough opponent,” said Kaufman. “I have a ton of respect for her.” As the Showtime broadcast went live, local favorite Cory Devela entered the cage for his middleweight fight against Luke Rockhold to a chorus of cheers, but that would be the highlight of his night. As the bell rang, Devela (9-3) pressed to attack but was met by a beautiful counter right hook that dropped him to his knees. From there, Rockhold (5-1) initiated brutal ground-and-pound and sunk in a rear-naked choke to secure the win just 30 seconds into the opening round.

In other bouts:

Steve Hadsel def. Taylor Roberts – TKO (Punches) 0:17
Len Bentley def. Marques Daniels – Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 and 29-28)
Landon Showalter def. George Stork – Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27)
Lyle Beerbohm def. Duane Ludwig – Submission (Modified Rear-Naked Choke) 4:27 R1
Brian Caraway def. Alex Zuniga – Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27)
Dennis Hallman def. Justin Davis – Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 0:20 R1
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