Favorites? What favorites?
The last two weeks in MMA have seen a host of highly accomplished favorites go down the tubes. First came B.J. Penn’s shocking unanimous decision loss to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which reshaped the face of the lightweight rankings. Then, on April 17, Dan Henderson and Gegard Mousasi entered their respective bouts in Nashville, Tenn., as favorites, and, yet, neither of them walked out as a Strikeforce champion.
Henderson looked the part for five minutes before incumbent Strikeforce middleweight ace Jake Shields put him on the floor and dominated him for the remaining 20 minutes, staking his claim as one of the sport’s elite fighters, regardless of weight. Meanwhile, Mousasi had no answer for the potent power wrestling of unbeaten prospect and budding star Muhammed Lawal, who stuck him to the floor, pounded on him for 25 minutes and took the Strikeforce 205-pound crown.
However, there was some stability. Strikeforce lightweight king Gilbert Melendez scored the biggest win of his career -- a lopsided beating of Japan’s top fighting product, Shinya Aoki -- as he retained his title and proved himself among the sport’s 155-pound elite in the Music City.