Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Isaac Vallie-Flagg looked nothing like an underdog.
Vallie-Flagg (13-3, 2-0 Strikeforce) weathered an early storm from two-time K-1 Hero’s lightweight grand prix winner Gesias Cavalcante, controlled the final two rounds with relentless strikes and rallied for a split decision at Strikeforce “Barnett vs. Cormier” on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
All three judges scored it 29-28: Ralph McKnight and Abe Belardo for Vallie-Flagg, Bruce Rasmussen for Cavalcante (16-5-1, 1-2 Strikeforce).
Cavalcante secured a takedown, threatened with a rear-naked choke and landed a nice head kick in the first round, but his pace slowed over the final 10 minutes. Vallie-Flagg never stopped moving forward. In the second and third rounds, he battered “JZ” with clean punches, flying knees, standing elbows and various other strikes, grinding away at the Imperial Athletics representative. Vallie-Flagg has quietly compiled a 10-0-1 mark in his past 11 fights.
Villante Outduels ATT’s Mehmen
Gian Villante utilized his two most trusted weapons -- the leg kick and the right hand -- in earning a unanimous decision over American Top Team’s Derrick Mehmen in a preliminary light heavyweight bout. All three judges scored it for Villante (10-3, 3-2 Strikeforce): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Villante established his dominance from the start, as he floored the “Caveman” with a crackling right uppercut in the first round. The former Hofstra University football star swarmed for the finish, but Mehmen (12-5, 1-1 Strikeforce) defended well and worked his way out of trouble. Villante controlled much of the remainder of the fight with stinging leg kicks and well-placed right hands, leaving Mehmen with a visibly damaged left eye and a loss on his resume.
Mulhern Hands Villefort First Loss
Takedowns and superb offensive and defensive grappling carried former King of the Cage welterweight champion Quinn Mulhern to a split decision over previously unbeaten Imperial Athletics prospect Yuri Villefort in an undercard matchup at 170 pounds.
Two of the three cageside judges, Steve Morrow and Abe Belardo, scored it for Mullhern (18-2, 3-1 Strikeforce) by 30-27 and 29-28 counts; Ralph McKnight cast a dissenting 29-28 ruling for Villefort.
Mulhern was methodical and slowly tightened his grip on the match. By round three, the more experienced New Mexican was in complete control. There, he threw everything he had at Villefort (6-1, 0-1 Strikeforce) from a submissions standpoint, including a north-south choke, an omaplata and a heel hook. None were successful, but he had done enough in the eyes of two of the judges.
‘Guto Inocente’ Moves to 6-0
Heavy, accurate strikes -- keyed by violent kicks to the head and legs -- carried undefeated Imperial Athletics standout Carlos Augusto Filho to a unanimous decision over Virgil Zwicker in a grueling light heavyweight battle on the undercard. “Guto Inocente” swept the scorecards by 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 counts.
Filho (6-0, 1-0 Strikeforce) dazzled in round one, landing a brutal head kick roughly two minutes into the bout. Shin met skull and Zwicker staggered, but the Team Quest representative stayed afloat. Filho poured on the punishment from there, with beautiful combinations, knees from the clinch and even a spinning back fist. Fatigue overtook the Brazilian as the fight drifted into round three.
In the third, Zwicker (10-3, 1-2 Strikeforce) found the mark with a stiff right hand and a spinning back fist of his own. However, the former heavyweight had absorbed so much punishment that he did not have enough left in the tank to back them up.
Green Outpoints Terry at 155
Former two-division King of the Cage champion Bobby Green recorded his third consecutive victory, as he eked out a split decision over James Terry in a preliminary lightweight affair. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them for Green (17-5, 3-1 Strikeforce).
A protégé of former Strikeforce middleweight titleholder Cung Le, Terry (11-5, 6-4 Strikeforce) has lost three of his last four fights by decision, two of them split verdicts.