Strikeforce: Santiago, Overeem and Le Win
SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 16 -- Jorge Santiago (Pictures) stopped Trevor Prangley (Pictures) midway through the opening round
to capture the first sanctioned mixed martial arts tournament in
the state of California.
The road to the finals in front of 8,233 fans inside the HP
Pavilion was a rough one for the battle-tested middleweights.
In the four-man tournament's opening bout, Sean Salmon (Pictures), who replaced Japan's Yuki Sasaki (Pictures) after he failed to gain medical
clearance from the California State Athletic Commission and was
thusly denied a license to fight, was victim of a scary knockout
just 24 seconds after the opening bell that could endanger his
Moving around the cage Santiago, 27, launched into the air and
connected with a right knee to Salmon's neck. The Ohioan,
reminiscent of his iconic knockout loss in the UFC to Rashad Evans (Pictures), was out instantly. He crashed to
the canvas and absorbed an additional punch before referee Cecil
"He's a wrestler so I was trying to set up for some back and side
kicks," Santiago said. "As soon as I saw him drop his head down I
went right away for the flying knee."
Salmon (14-5-0) lay motionless on the canvas before suffering what
CSAC executive officer Armando Garcia called a small seizure.
Paramedics strapped Salmon, who attempted to stand on weak legs
after regaining consciousness, on a stretcher and transported him
to Valley Medical Center, located some 20 minutes from the
"He is immediately suspended," Garcia said of the 30-year-old
Salmon. "People get knocked out all the time, but they don't go
into a seizure. He's done -- that's the general consensus."
Arriving at the hospital, Salmon, who was scheduled to fight Dec.
15 in Dallas, Texas, against Jason Miller, was alert and
walking under his own power, Garcia said. A CT scan didn't reveal
any bleeding on the brain.
"I was a little worried about him, if he was OK or not," said
Santiago, who went backstage and waited for the winner between
South African bruiser Trevor Prangley (Pictures) and Hawaii's Falaniko Vitale (Pictures). "They said he was OK so I just
came back to the locker room, cooled down and prepared my mind for
the next fight."
Prangley muscled the smaller Vitale, 35, by landing hard knees in
the clinch that put the Hawaiian on his heels. Vitale, like
Prangley a UFC veteran, found his range and connected with repeated
punches that bloodied the large middleweight's face.
In the second period Prangley forced himself on Vitale, now 24-8,
connecting with thudding punches to the body and excellent knees
inside the clinch.
During one exchange, Vitale flinched and covered his right eye,
prompting referee Marcos Rosales to intervene. After being checked
by the ringside physician, it was determined Vitale could not
continue because his eye was spasming. (His vision later returned
and he said he was fine.)
The bout went to the scorecards and was deemed a majority draw --
Nelson Hamilton 19-19; Cecil Peoples 19-19; Dan Stell 20-18 for
Vitale -- forcing the decision based upon CSAC tournament rules to
fall on the shoulders of Rosales, who raised the 35-year-old
With Santiago's dream opening-round tournament fight and Prangley
being put through his paces, the two met relatively unscathed in
"I've been studying his game for a long time," Santiago said of
Prangley, whom he first encountered on a Bodog-promoted event. "I
knew he's a tough guy and he would try to put me down and drop some
bombs. I just did my game, the best time to go and I took
It was obvious early that Prangley, 17-5, did not like Santiago's
kicks to his lead leg. After taking a right hand to the jaw that
knocked him back, Prangley was wiped off his feet by one such kick.
Another swing of the legs saw Santiago blast Prangley to the
Later in the round Santiago, 16-7, again went after Prangley to the
body, this time with a knee. He followed with another to the chin
that felled the chiseled South African. A final right hand
motivated referee Jon Schorle to call a stop to the contest at 2:31
of the first.
The tournament alternate bout saw Dennis Hallman (Pictures) defeat late replacement Jeremiah Metcalf (Pictures), who stepped in for Salmon when
it was deemed Sasaki could not participate.
After being stuffed on a double-leg, Hallman transitioned to an
attack on Metcalf's left leg, locking in a textbook heelhook and
forcing a tapout at 1:39 of round one.
(Pictures) mixed in strikes with
takedowns and a potent submission game to finish Paul Buentello (Pictures) in capturing the first ever
Strikeforce heavyweight title.
Though most fans expected a slugfest, Overeem showed his hand early
by planting the 250-pound Buentello on his back.
"I'm a striker myself," Overeem said, "but I knew my ground game
was better and my all-around game was better, so I took advantage
The 27-year-old Dutch veteran, who made his name fighting in the
PRIDE Fighting Championships, challenged Buentello from dominant
positions. Several times Overeem endangered Buentello's neck, most
notably with a side-choke/neck crank he invented in the gym called
(Pictures) is a tough guy," said
Overeem, now 26-11. "He didn't tap. I don't even think he was
bothered by it, so I need to work on that one."
Standing a ripped 224 pounds, Overeem looked massive compared to
the frame he carried during his bouts at 205 pounds.
In the fight's first five minutes, Buentello (23-10) absorbed a ton
of punishment, and only his stellar defense of guillotine chokes
saved him. Each judge at cage-side scored the opening period 10-8
The San Jose-based Buentello, 33, came out winging punches in the
second, but he failed to stay on his feet long enough to catch
Overeem with anything, including his most dangerous weapon: the
When action returned to the feet, Overeem attacked Buentello's soft
belly with a knee to the liver and another directly to the
"I was working his head, and he can take a shot on the head,"
Overeem said. "But at the same time I was working his body and I
could see that that had more affect. Once I got the knee on the
liver I could see he almost went down -- that was before I gave him
elbows to the body -- and I immediately gave him another knee to
the liver and that was it."
The former King of the Cage champion doubled over in immense pain
and tapped the canvas to get out of the fight.
"This belt is mine and it's going to be with me in Holland,"
Overeem said. "It's going to stay with me for a long time."
Hand it to San Jose's Cung Le
(Pictures): He knows how to put on a
For the fifth time in five fights the 34-year-old fighter showed
different areas of his evolving MMA game, this time during a third
round stoppage over "The Ultimate Fighter 2" participant Sam Morgan (Pictures).
The dynamic Le displayed a variety of takedowns -- several of which
were the high-risk variety -- throughout the fight, more than he
employed in his previous four efforts combined.
Morgan, 26, helped in that department but rushing wildly at Le, who
established top position in side-control but failed to finish the
bout due in large part to his lack of experience on the canvas.
In the third round, Le dropped Morgan (19-9) with a short right
hook. The partisan crowd offered "Bloodsport" type chants of "Cung
Le! Cung Le! Cung Le!" as the Vietnamese fighter allowed Morgan to
The end came when a vicious kick to the liver sent Morgan sprawling
to the canvas at 1:58 of the final round.
Morgan was sent to Valley Medical Center for observation overnight
after he vomited uncontrollably following the fight, Garcia told
Popular local product Brian
Schwartz, a champion full-contact fighter, failed to get past
Lemont Davis in his MMA
debut. After three rounds, all three judges saw it 29-28 for Davis,
who traveled to San Jose without a corner.
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Bobby Southworth (Pictures) lost a non-title affair to
30-year-old Anthony Ruiz
(Pictures). After a strong first round
in which Southworth (8-5) dropped Ruiz and took his back, the
veteran out of American Kickboxing Academy took a monster
four-punch combination to the chin that put him down.
Referee Marcos Rosales moved in to have a cut above 37-year-old
Southworth's left eye checked, prompting the doctor at ringside to
call the fight 54 seconds of round two. Ruiz moved his record to
Stewart (Pictures) needed just 19 seconds to
dispatch Bryson Kamaka
(Pictures) in a welterweight
Kamaka (5-9) rushed forward with punches before being met with a
knee to the chin that put him down. A follow up knee to the head by
Stewart (5-0) would have been illegal had referee Cecil Peoples not
already called the contest. Because the fight was deemed over, said
CSAC's Garcia, the result stands.
Eric Lawson (Pictures) battled through a perilous
opening three minutes against Josh Neal (Pictures) to score an early second-round
stoppage. Lawson (4-1) walked back to his corner on wobbly legs
after being trapped in a Neal triangle choke for nearly the entire
However the momentum Neal, 2-2, seized in the first was erased with
a counter right hand. Lawson went down and was immediately caught
in a rear-naked choke that forced him to tap 20 seconds into the
A rough and tumble bantamweight bout between Pete Sabala (Pictures) and Anthony Figueroa (Pictures) saw the crowd burst out for the
first time. Three three-minute rounds were punctuated by Sabala's
high-elevation takedowns and Figueroa's strikes, which hurt his
137-pound opponent several times during the fight.
In the end, judges at ringside disagreed on the decision. Cecil
Peoples (29-28) and Dan Stell (30-27) gave it to Figueroa (4-1),
while Nelson "Doc" Hamilton saw it 29-28 for Sabala, who fell to
Coronel (Pictures) and Alex Crispin
(Pictures) engaged in a sub-par
contest that had the crowd voicing its dissatisfaction during
several points in the bout. Crispin's wrestling control was enough
against an inactive Coronel (2-4) to take the three-round fight by
unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
An accidental strike to the head of Chris Drumm prompted referee Cecil
Peoples to stop the bout at 2:35 of the second period and deduct a
point from Evan Esguerra
Because the physician at cage-side deemed the pro debuting Drumm
could not continue and since the bout had not finished two complete
rounds, rules dictated a technical draw decision. The
featherweights had waged a competitive bout up to that point.
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