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Three title fights official for “Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Shields” on April 17

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 2, 2010) – Mixed martial arts (MMA) legend and two-time United States Olympic wrestling competitor Dan Henderson (25-7) will challenge STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight (185 pounds) Champion Jake Shields (24-4-1) in the main event of a highly anticipated STRIKEFORCE fight card at Bridgestone Arena (formerly known as Sommet Center) in Nashville on Saturday, April 17.

In other featured bouts, STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Champion Gegard Mousasi (28-2-1) will defend his crown against undefeated MMA star and two-time NCAA All-American wrestling star Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (6-0) while STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (17-2) will put his title on the line against DREAM Champion and top-ranked Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki (23-4).

An exclusive special pre-sale ticket purchase opportunity for STRIKEFORCE: Henderson vs. Shields will take place for “STRIKEFORCE Insider” e-newsletter subscribers ( beginning at 10 a:m. CT tomorrow/Wednesday, March 3, and ending at 10 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 4. STRIKEFORCE Insiders will receive a special e-newsletter Tuesday tonight with the pre-sale code.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. CT on Friday, March 5 at Bridgestone Arena ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online ( and STRIKEFORCE’S official website (

One of the most decorated figures in the history of MMA, Henderson, who left the UFC to sign a multi-year agreement with STRIKEFORCE in December 2009, is the only fighter in the sport’s history to simultaneously hold two different titles in two different weight classes (welterweight and heavyweight) for a major fight promotion (PRIDE Fighting Championships).

The 31-year old-Shields, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and resident of San Francisco, captured the vacant STRIKEFORCE middleweight crown with a unanimous five-round decision over fellow superstar Jason “Mayhem” Miller in a live CBS primetime televised matchup at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on Nov. 7, 2009. Shields, who has not suffered a defeat since December 14, 2004, will put a 13-fight win streak on the line when he faces Henderson.

Since 2006, the 24-year-old Mousasi has reeled off 15 consecutive victories to become the top 205-pound fighter in the world. An aggressive, Dutch-Armenian fighter, who relocated with his family from Iran to The Netherlands when he was four-years-old, captured the STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight title by impressively stopping Renato “Babalu” Sobral one minute into the first round of their meeting at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. on Aug. 15, 2009.

Unbeaten since he made his MMA debut in Japan with a first round (2:11) TKO over Travis Wiuff on Sept. 28, 2008, the 28-year-old King Mo is a former NCAA Division I All-American and Big 12 wrestling champion for Oklahoma State University. With a mere 11 months of MMA experience under his belt, the Murfreesboro, Tenn.-born fighter decimated two-time UFC tournament champion and MMA legend Mark “The Smashing Machine” Kerr just 25 seconds into their meeting with a barrage of punches on Aug. 28, 2009.

Melendez, a 27-year-old Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist, reclaimed the STRIKEFORCE lightweight belt from the man who took it from him – Josh “The Punk” Thomson – with a five-round unanimous decision in one of the most ferocious battles of all time in the cage at HP Pavilion on Dec. 19, 2009. The stunning victory came just four months after the San Francisco native avenged the only other defeat of his career by stopping Japanese wrestling ace Mitsuhiro “The Endless Fighter” Ishida with an onslaught of punches in the third round (3:56) of a rematch on Aug. 15, 2009.

The 26-year-old Aoki, a dangerous submission expert who holds a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as judo, is recognized as one of the sport’s premiere 155-pound fighters. His tremendous flexibility has allowed him to surprise many opponents, thus earning him the nickname “Tobikan Judan,” which is Japanese for “master of flying submissions.”

On Oct. 6, 2009, Aoki seized the DREAM lightweight title by submitting superstar Joachim Hansen with an armbar in the second round (4:56) of a championship bout in Yokohama, Japan.
The event will air live on the CBS Television Network on April 17.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    I think Mousasi is really going to have a tough time here as King Mo has looked great so far. If Mo is ready to go 5 rounds he could pull off the upset as he has the tools to control the fight.

  • xtreme_machine says:

    dam if Fedor were to have been in this card

    that would have made this card the best in the history of SF and the best one this year in MMA

  • retrofitting123 says:

    Mo by decision. he will wrestle -muscle his way through and avoid the subb.i just think he is too strong for gegard.QUOTE me!

  • inkythewinky says:

    mo acted like he won the lottery when he beat mike “i quit” whitehead, can’t wait to see what he does if he wins this one :)

  • Rece Rock says:

    Glad to see Mo get step up in competition and get his first title shot… But that’s the problem with this scenario it’s his first big step up in competition and a title fight wrapped into one… I see Mo hanging in there but I think gegard gets the win… IMO

  • Mo = loss by way of embarrassment. Anyway Gegard Mousasi wants

  • Rich S. says:

    Mo is very promising, but he’s also very cocky, and sometimes that can be a problem..

    Mo is a big dude, and packs a lot of power, but I’m actually going to call Mousasi via standing Knockout..

    Then I’d probably say Aoki via Triangle in round 1, maybe 2..

    Aaaaaaand Hendo by TKO or Decision..

    What a great card..

  • hindsightufuk says:

    FightFan313: Mo = loss by way of embarrassment. Anyway Gegard Mousasi wants  (Quote)

    i feel you on that

    awesome card if all stay fit, interested to see who fills it out

  • saerbarnet says:

    FightFan313: Mo = loss by way of embarrassment.Anyway Gegard Mousasi wants  

    Based on what? No matter how you look at it King Mo is a world class wrestler and Mousasi has yet to face that type of fighter.
    But don’t get me wrong, I still think Mousasi will win but you’re way off if you think Mousasi is better in every way.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    personally i would base it on years of experience. King Mo, this is really his first top quality test, Gegard has been fighting for a lot longer and the last couple years has some really impressive wins. Some against much bigger guys. I been watching him since he was a yungun just starting out and he always stood out in every event, he is still getting better.
    Mo is without argument a supreme wrestler, but i just dont see Gegard getting beat for a while.

    then again i am the worlds shittest fight outcome predictor

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    This is nice Strikeforce is coming with it. Mousasi vs King Mo will be intriguing because if Lawal conditioning is up to par I think he walks away with the strap.

  • JabCrossHook says:

    fanoftna33: I think Mousasi is really going to have a tough time here as King Mo has looked great so far. If Mo is ready to go 5 rounds he could pull off the upset as he has the tools to control the fight.  

    Yeah only 11 months of MMA experience and only fighting scrubs is going to beat Mousasi’s already vast experience in training and fighting quality opponents. The only thing Lawal has an advantage is wrestling and that’s it. His boxing is too flashy and his striking defense is not there at all. I hope he worked on throwing his punches without exposing his chin so much because Mousasi used to box professionally and he’ll take advantage of that and put him to sleep.

  • rage says:

    King mo is a great fighter im a big fan of him and mousasi but i think mousasi definatly takes this…..king mos time will come just
    not yet. Aoki vs melendez is very interesting of course aoki has the clear advantage on the ground but striking goes to melendez. As for hendo vs sheilds i see a michael bisping all over again

  • Angry Mike says:

    Great card. I’m really looking forward to the Lawal/Mousasi fight. Lawal is a great wrestler, but Mousasi is a better striker and can end fights from his back via submission.

    Not that it really matters, but Henderson simultaneously held the Pride welterweight and middleweight belts, I think. Fact check that one.

  • retrofitting123 says:

    it was mw and lhw

  • Jstew3785 says:

    No, it was Welterweight and Middleweight. Angry Mike is right. Welterweight in Pride was 183 and Middleweight was 205.

  • mu_shin says:

    Excellent to see this Strikeforce card come together, actually announcing a date, a location, and how we can all take part in it on CBS. Lots of squirrely vibes around SF’s organizational skills as of late, but this is a great result.

    I think Dan Henderson will have to work somewhat harder for his victory against Jake Shields than he did in the Bisping fight. No doubt this will be the toughest fight of Shield’s career, as he’s looking at an opponent with advanced skills in every area of MMA. Power has to go to Henderson, but movement, footwork and hand speed could be great weapons for Jake, if he can avoid that big overhand right.

    Mousassi obviously has experience all over Lawal, but that’s why they fight the fights, and why we watch them. Will be interesting to see how the game plans unfold, and where this one plays out, whether they stand and go toe to toe, or if Lawal tries to press a possible wrestling advantage.

    Big fan of Aoki. This match reads like a classic grappler/striker matchup, and Melendez would do well to avoid getting wrapped up by this guy on the ground. The last guy who did left the building in an ambulance…

    Great card, and congratulations to Strikeforce for putting together a compelling event.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Jabcrosshook, I do think Mousasi will have a tough time due to the fact that Mo is much stronger and like I said if he is ready to go 5 rounds he can win this fight. Just look at the way Sokodju handled Mousasi in the first round of thier fight. If Mo can avoid the strikes and control Mousasi I think a UD is there for him.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    JabCrossHook: Yeah only 11 months of MMA experience and only fighting scrubs is going to beat Mousasi’s already vast experience in training and fighting quality opponents. The only thing Lawal has an advantage is wrestling and that’s it. His boxing is too flashy and his striking defense is not there at all. I hope he worked on throwing his punches without exposing his chin so much because Mousasi used to box professionally and he’ll take advantage of that and put him to sleep.  (Quote)

    Another thing I question is Mousasis vast experience with quality opponents. Name 5 quality opponents for him. He has experience fighting yes but not with quality opponents. Mo has been wrestling top level guys for years but according to you that counts for nothing?

  • RoadsideGraphix says:

    I am a King Mo fan but I also like Babaloo and we all know how that turned out against Mousasi.

    I have Mousasi by submission or Mo by KO but I cant really pick which I would bet on.

    Also like Hendo and Aoki to win their bouts.

  • Yourdaddydevilandlord says:

    I wonder if Mousasi left M-1 because they were trying to use him as leverage in getting more $$ out of CBS and Strikeforce for Fedor to be on this card. Did they say pay us this amount and give us this and that, or neither Fedor or Mousasi will fight on the card and Mousasi didn’t agree with their shenanigans. Or unlike Fedor the Russian Mob/M-1 global didn’t have his family under constant surveillance, and he wasn’t AFRAID to leave. I don’t care how bad ass Fedor is, they have some major nut pressure on him, I’m convinced of it. No way does he want his career this poorly handled, fighting Hong Man Choi and crap, dickin’ around every promotion in the world etc. I just saw one of those M-1 shows for the first time and it looked like some shady, underground, third world crap in which Dennis Kang clearly beat some hometown russian fighter but made the mistake of not finishing it an it was called a draw. They made a point of not showing the mobsters at ringside!!! Say what you want about Dana, but don’t blame him about not signing Fedor, he knows not to get involved with these clowns and that they are nothing but trouble and shouldn’t be allowed to function in the U.S.

  • BigDave says:

    It’s no secret I am not a fan of king mo, but I am gonna give him credit for stepping up in a HUGE way by taking on the guy I have third on my pound for pound list. I do have to say I don’t see him lasting 3 minutes in there with Gegard but at least he isn’t fighting another can.

    Hendo wins a boring decision over shields. All I got to say on this one.

    Melendez/Aoki- This fight is going to go one of two ways. If it goes to the ground Aoki wins with ease. If it stays standing Gilbert should not have any trouble taking it. I’ll take aoki by armbar rd 1.


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