Buoyed by considerable hype, Tyron Woodley did not disappoint.
The blue-chip welterweight prospect remained undefeated, as he submitted Rudy Bears in the Strikeforce “Challengers Series 5” main event on Friday at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. The 27-year-old American Top Team standout secured the tapout with an arm-triangle choke 2:52 into the first round.
Woodley sees greater challenges on the horizon.
“I would love to keep chopping that ladder down,” he said. “Strikeforce is doing great things with me. I’m going to keep training and keep getting better.”
An athletic freak who remains rough around the edges, Woodley had no problems with Bears, an M-1 Global veteran who carried a six-fight winning streak into his Strikeforce debut. It became clear from the outset Bears was out of his league. He initiated a clinch with Woodley, a two-time collegiate All-American wrestler at the University of Missouri, and wound up with his back to the mat following an explosive takedown. Woodley deftly moved to mount just 90 seconds into the fight but surrendered the position on a scramble.
Though Bears escaped to his feet, Woodley soon clinched again and softened him with punishing knees to the head. Bears threw a misguided low kick once the two welterweights separated, opening the door for Woodley. He scored with another takedown, seamlessly set up the arm-triangle and waited for the chance to finish. After a brief struggle, Woodley passed Bears’ guard, locked down on his neck and forced the submission.
“Rudy Bears is an amazing guy,” said Woodley, who was cut during “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 selection process earlier this year. “We were supposed to fight a couple of times before. I knew it was eventually going to happen. Now, we can train together.”
Unbeaten in six professional appearances, Woodley has delivered all six wins by submission, five of them inside one round
Vera Blasts Couture
Kim Couture was no match for Kerry Vera.
Less than a week after her husband, Brandon Vera, dropped a controversial decision to Couture’s ex-husband, Randy Couture, at UFC 105, Vera combined power, patience and precision en route to a one-sided first-round technical knockout.
Vera landed a series of healthy left hooks and close-quarters knee that resulted in swelling to Couture’s face, defended takedowns in the clinch and ultimately wore down her overmatched opponent. She set the stage for the finish when she freed herself from a Couture clinch and flurried against the cage.
“Sugar Free” wilted under the barrage, falling to her back as the referee moved in to halt the bout 3:35 into the opening period.
The 33-year-old Couture was taken to a local hospital after the fight and was believed to have suffered a fractured orbital bone.
Voelker Stages Comeback
Nearly cooked in the opening seconds of his Strikeforce debut, Bobby Voelker roared back from the brink to defeat World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Erik Apple by second-round TKO. Apple met his end 83 seconds into round two.
Competing for the first time in 14 months, Apple floored the hometown favorite with a right hand in the first round, but, despite his best efforts, he failed to finish the job. Voelker cleared the cobwebs and slowly re-established himself in the match. By the end of the first period, he had Apple grounded and was hacking away with strikes from the top. It was a precursor of what was to come.
The two welterweights exchanged with wild punches to start round two, but Voelker dimmed Apple’s lights with an overhand right. The blow crumpled the Californian where he stood, as Voelker swarmed for the finish with punches. The 30-year-old has rattled off four wins in his last five fights.
‘Feijao’ Finishes Rosa
Once believed to be on the fast track to title contention, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante stopped Aaron Rosa on second-round strikes in a light heavyweight duel. The end came 3:25 into round two.
The Brazilian wore down Rosa with a suffocating clinch game early before luring him into standing exchanges in the second round. After scoring with an overhand right, flying knee to the body and a takedown, Cavalcante was warned for an illegal elbow strike on the ground. The warning, though it cost him top position, did little to slow his momentum. Soon after, he dropped Rosa with a right hand behind the ear, pounced on the fallen Tito Ortiz understudy and put him away with punches on the ground.
Cornered by UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Cavalcante won for the fourth time in five fights and took a step towards redeeming himself in wake of his embarrassing TKO loss to Mike Kyle five months ago. The 29-year-old still has never gone the distance as a professional.
Kevin Casey def. Chad Vance -- Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 1:41 R1
Lee Gibson def. Joe Wilk -- TKO (Punches) 4:39 R1
Brian Davidson def. Russell Patrick -- TKO (Punches) 0:29 R1
Nick Nolte def. Andy Waters -- Submission (Triangle Choke) 3:45 R1
Darryl Cobb def. Gary Tapasua -- Split Decision
Mike Chandler def. Richard Bouphanouvong -- TKO (Punches) 2:07 R2
Lucas Lopes def. Dominic Brown -- TKO (Punches) 0:45 R2