FRESNO, CALIF. (November, 6, 2009) – One night before the monumental CBS/ STRIKEFORCE/M-1 GLOBAL SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS Fedor vs. Rogers event LIVE on the CBS Television Network, hometown favorite Billy Evangelista defeated Jorge Gurgel via unanimous in the main event of Strikeforce Challengers on Friday night on SHOWTIME.
The two lightweights traded punches from the opening bell until the waning seconds of the first round when Evangelista (10-0) took Gurgel to the mat. But, in the final 30 seconds of the second round, Gurgel landed a powerful left kick that sent Evangelista to the mat. Just when it looked as if Gurgel (13-6) was about to submit get Evangelista with a guillotine choke, the Fresno native was able to escape with just a few tics remaining.
The third round featured some back-and-forth action, and Evangelista won by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
”The guy is tough, it was exactly what I expected,” Evangelista said. “He was very aggressive; I have to take my hat off to him. He almost had me with the guillotine, but I was able to get out. It was a great fight, what else can I say?
Gurgel was clearly disappointed with his performance.
“Billy fought a great fight,” Gurgel said after the fight to SHOWTIME MMA expert commentator Stephen Quadros. “I expected to get booed. I just wanted to get some respect from the crowd, and I think I got that.”
While Quadros was impressed with Evangelista’s showing, he argued that Gurgel looked great, even in losing.
“It was everything we expected it to be,” Quadros said. “Evangelista showed a lot of guts in this because he had to fend off the wild hits and submission attempts from Gurgel. He showed a lot of heart in this fight.
“But, based on his performance, even in this loss, people still want to see Jorge Gurgel.”
In an explosive fight that few thought would go past the first round, Shane Del Rosario (9-0) defeated local favorite Brandon Cash “Money” (5-1) via first round submission in a matchup of two hard-hitting heavyweights.
After getting floored with a sweeping hook from Cash, Del Rosario was in trouble early, taking an onslaught of punches while on the mat. But, the undefeated prospect was able to get up and turn things around, getting the previously unbeaten Cash into an omoplata and ending things at 2:57 of the first round.“That was pretty good,” Del Rosario said. “I knew he was going to come out swinging. He caught me pretty good, but I bounced back. I’ve been working on submissions a lot, and I was able to get one here.”
Rising middleweight star Luke Rockhold defeated fellow 185-pound prospect Jesse Taylor via rear naked choke in the first round in the third SHOWTIME televised fight of the evening. The fight almost immediately went to the mat, with both fighters attempting submissions. Rockhold (6-1) was able to get Taylor into the rear naked choke, and with Taylor (13-5) refusing to give up and unable to escape, the referee ended the fight at 3:42 of the first round.
“That was by far my toughest opponent, and I rose to the occasion,” Rockhold said. “I think I proved myself tonight, and I’m ready for whoever they give me next. I tried to keep the fight standing up, but I trained with a lot of wrestlers and I was ready for it. “
In the quickest fight of the evening, Merritt Warren (5-2) defeated Thomas Diagne (1-1) via heel hook submission. With both fighters grappling on the mat, Warren got Diagne, who initiated the takedown, in a heel hook, forcing the French San Shou champion to tap out at 3:49 of the first round.
“This guy had crazy kicks, but I was more technically sound,” Warren said. “I landed some really powerful shots on the floor. I went for it, he was really slick and I couldn’t get a hold of him, but I got the heel hook and I went for it.”
In a hard fought female MMA match, Fresno native Zoila Frausto (4-0) defeated Elisha Helsper (0-2) via unanimous decision. Both fighters wanted to stand and trade punches, but the fight turned in Frausto’s favor in the second round when she landed a devastating right leg kick to Helsper’s face.
“My head kick really turned it around for me,” Frausto said. “I knew she was going to be tough. She kept coming, but I fought back. We both wanted to stand there and trade.
“I’ve been working on my kicks forever and I’m just happy I landed it right.”
Also during the telecast, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le announced that he would return to the ring on the Dec. 19 STRIKEFORCE event on SHOWTIME.
“I’ve been staying in good shape and I’m ready to get back in there for the fans,” Le said. “I’ll be fighting for Strikeforce on Dec. 19.”
Recap courtesy of Strikeforce.