Luke Rockhold retained the STRIKEFORCE middleweight championship Saturday night by clearly outpointing Tim Kennedy in the main event from Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
Rockhold (10-1) earned his second defense of the 185-pound title by outworking the challenger, earning a unanimous decision after five hard-fought rounds. Rockhold had the better striking and grappling and was able to control Kennedy (14-4) in most areas throughout a fight scored 49-46 by the three cageside scorers. Rockhold remains undefeated in the STRIKEFORCE organization.
After a 16-month layoff, Marquardt (32-10-2) made a loud statement about his return with a brutal knockout win over Woodley at 1:39 in the fourth round of an exciting and fast-paced slugfest.
Marquardt made himself a contender for Knockout of the Year with his fourth-round stoppage of the previously-undefeated Tyron Woodley in the co-main event. Marquardt’s wrestling held up to Woodley’s throughout the fight and allowed him to keep it a standing affair, where he was able to pick Woodley apart.
Woodley had some surging moments of his own and had Marquardt in trouble in the third round, but he wasn’t able to capitalise and Marquardt was ahead on the cards when they went into the fourth round. Putting pressure on, he threw together a combination that brought to mind his finish of Wilson Gouveia at UFC 95.
Several elbows, including a diagonal overhand version, badly hurt Woodley against the fence before a body shot took his attention low. As he went to defend the body, Marquardt hit him in the jaw with a right hand that knocked him out for one of the year’s most impressive finishes so far.
In other fights on SHOWTIME, Roger Gracie (4-1), who fought for the first time in his MMA career in the middleweight division, won a three-round decision over veteran Keith Jardine (17-11-2) and middleweight Lorenz Larkin (13-0, 1 NC) remained undefeated with an impressive three-round decision over Robbie Lawler (19-9, 1 NC).
In live undercard fights on SHOWTIME EXTREME:
Pat Healy (30-17) won a three-round unanimous decision over Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1) in a welterweight bout
Ryan Couture (5-1) son of MMA legend Randy Couture, took a three-round split decision over Joe Duarte (10-3) by the scores of 29-28 twice and 28-29 in a welterweight bout
Jorge Masvidal (23-7) recorded a three-round split decision over Justin Wilcox (11-5, 1 NC) by the scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 in a welterweight bout
Jordan Mein (25-8) earned a three-round decision over Tyler Stinson (23-9) in a welterweight bout.
On the non-televised undercard, Jason High (16-3) impressively submitted Nate Moore (7-3) in an exciting fight to begin the night with a 26-second finish in round one with a guillotine choke.
STRIKEFORCE returns to SHOWTIME on Aug. 18 with a card headlined by female star and current bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who takes on former bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman live at 10 p.m. ET/PT.