'Ruthless' Retains

By Sherdog.com Staff and Dave Mandel Jul 27, 2008
STOCKTON, Calif. -- Robbie Lawler (Pictures) used a punishing attack to the body to stop Scott Smith (Pictures) and retain his EliteXC middleweight title on Saturday at the Stockton Arena.

The first meeting between the two heavy-handed mixed martial artists, which took place on EliteXC’s May 31 debut on CBS, had ended as a no contest after Lawler accidentally poked Smith in the eye. EliteXC and CBS brought the pair together again for another entertaining, somewhat abbreviated battle.

This time, however, the ending was decisive.

The fight started slow but picked up midway through the first. After backpedaling for the first minute, Lawler backed Smith against the cage, measured him with a jab and landed a straight left. Two good kicks to the body followed and visibly hurt Smith. Yet Smith, 29, fighting of Elk Grove, Calif., rallied late with a right hand down the pipe that caused Lawler to retreat. Smith pursued with more punches and won the round.

“In the first round, he was pretty much dictating the pace,” said Lawler, now 18-4 with one no contest. “I was taking my time, but man, he was coming after me.”

The second stanza also started well for Smith. He sliced Lawler open early with a series of forearm smashes on the inside. As blood began to leak out of Lawler, though, the cut fighter launched a pair of left hooks that tore through Smith’s defense. Lawler then trapped Smith against the fence and went to work.

“The thing is, I got cut and I knew that I had to step it up and not give the ref anytime to stop it,” said the 26-year-old Lawler. “So I just kept the pace up and kept pushing forward.”

The middleweight champion hammered away on Smith’s body with punches, though his knees did the greatest damage and dropped Smith to the mat. Smith rose, but Lawler stayed on him and kept smashing home knees and kicks until referee Herb Dean (Pictures) stopped the fight 2:35 into round two.

“I made a mistake,” said Smith, who fell to 13-5 with one no contest. “I knew I cut him with an elbow. Like an idiot, I sat around and waited for the ref to maybe look at it. And he went to work on me, went to work on my midsection with those knees. You live and you learn.”

Nick Diaz (Pictures) (18-7, 1 NC) received a wild welcome from his hometown crowd in Stockton, Calif. He also received a fight from Thomas Denny (Pictures) (26-17), at least for five-plus entertaining minutes.

Denny, 37, of Victorville, Calif., came out throwing combinations and inside leg kicks in the first round. Diaz, 24, stayed patient, even after missing two submission attempts -- a kimura and an armbar. Denny escaped the subs and won the exchange that followed with some solid knees.

Midway through the round, however, Diaz began putting a jab in Denny’s face and following up with a straight left. As Diaz picked up the pace, Denny got hit, got tired and got sloppy. A big left with a minute to go in the round caused Denny to stumble back and take a seat, though “The Wildman” got up for another trade, which Diaz won with an elbow on the inside and more left hands.

The end came quickly in the second. Denny’s best moments were behind him, and Diaz approached his peak behind a jab that backed his opponent against the cage. A left hook followed that hurt Denny, who dropped under Diaz’s onslaught and was stopped on the ground 30 seconds into the round.

Jake Shields (Pictures) (21-4-1) made beating quality welterweight Nick Thompson (Pictures) (36-10-1) look easy. Fighting out of San Francisco, the 29-year-old Shields dove in for a single-leg takedown to start the fight. Almost instantly he moved to the mount.

Thompson, 27, of Minneapolis, nearly rolled Shields. But nearly wasn’t enough, and Shields slipped on a guillotine choke from the mount. The Cesar Gracie (Pictures)-trained fighter posted with his left arm and cranked with his right to force the submission at 1:03.

“All the waiting just made me stronger,” said Shields, who finally became the EliteXC welterweight champion with the win and made clear his desire to fight the UFC’s best at his weight. “I would love to fight the winner of [UFC champion Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch (Pictures)] and unify the world titles.”

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, 23, stopped Shayna Baszler (Pictures)’s early submission attempts and finished her late in the second round. The Brazilian, who improved to 5-0, showed strong takedown defense that enabled her hard-punching stand-up game.

In the first round, though, Santos lost her balance and fell to her back. Baszler, 27, of Sioux Falls, S.D., attacked with a toehold. Santos defended while maintaining top position and scoring with punches to take the round.

An exchange opened the second, and it was clear that Santos had earned her reputation as a dangerous striker. She threw crisp, straight punches that snapped back Baszler’s head. Although the two 140-pound women were fighting three-minute rounds, Baszler’s mouth hung open for air as Santos moved in with a flurry. A right hand sent Baszler (9-5) to the floor, and Santos commenced her celebration by straddling the top of the cage. The only problem was that the bout was not over.

“You want to fight?” the referee asked Santos after she had returned to the canvas. “Do you want to fight? Fight!”

After giving Mazzagatti a dumbfounded expression, Santos moved back in for the kill. Baszler fought off the end momentarily, but soon another right hand put her back on the mat and ended the fight for good at 2:48 of the second round.
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