Published Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011 | 1 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011 | 1:35 a.m.
Other results from Strikeforce Challengers 18
Derrick Mehmen surely startled more than a few people roaming the Palms casino floor Friday night when he made his way to a press conference after Strikeforce Challengers 18.
The white T-shirt he threw on after his light heavyweight fight against Roy Jones had changed colors. It was dominantly red as he exited the Pearl, stained with pints of Mehmen’s own blood.
Mehmen overcame a severe cut above his left eye after a spinning back knee in the second round to win a unanimous decision over Jones (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
“It definitely got a little sketchy in there,” Mehmen said.
After Jones out-struck the 26-year-old American Top Team product for the opening two minutes of the fight, Mehmen (12-3 MMA, 1-0 SF) turned to his wrestling to lead him to victory. Mehmen took down Jones (6-2 MMA, 0-1 SF) repeatedly in the final two rounds, unleashing ground-and-pound and protecting his deep wound in the process.
Mehmen thrilled the crowd in the first bout on the televised main card. The fans greeted Mehmen’s perseverance with an ovation that wouldn’t be duplicated the rest of the night.
“The crowd helped out,” Mehmen said. “I just wanted to let everyone know I was fighting and wanted to get the crowd behind me to keep the fight going.”
Mehmen warmed the cage for Joe Duarte (10-2 MMA, 2-0 SF), who prevailed in the lightweight main event against Jorge Gurgel (14-8 MMA, 2-3 SF). In the only other fight of the night that matched the intensity of Jones vs. Mehmen, Duarte unanimously took the final two rounds en route to a decision win over Gurgel.
Two judges scored the contest 29-28, while a third saw it as 30-27 for Duarte.
“I knew he was tough,” Duarte said. “I broke my finger in the second, so I couldn’t really use my jab in the third, but I just tried to stay ahead in points.”
Duarte took down Gurgel twice in the third round to seal the victory. His jab did enough damage in the opening 10 minutes.
Duarte bothered Gurgel in the opening two rounds with constant shots to the chin that were too quick to defend against. Many mixed martial artists are criticized for not utilizing their jab enough, but Duarte is an exception.
“The jab is the most effective punch in fighting, in striking,” Duarte said. “I knew if I did a good job establishing it, I could keep my range and be able lead to with my right hand and get away from his takedown.”
The victory marked Duarte’s fifth in a row. Since his time on the eighth season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Duarte has gone 6-1 and re-established himself as a prospect in the sport.
But he was far from the most hyped up-and-comer on Friday’s card. That honor belonged to women’s 145-pound fighter Ronda Rousey.
Rousey, a bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympics in judo, had her third career MMA fight. For the third consecutive time, she submitted an opponent with an armbar in less than a minute.
Rousey defeated Sarah D’Alelio 25 seconds into the first round. The stoppage appeared controversial, as D’Alelio did not tap out.
But replays revealed her shrieking in pain as Rousey locked in a tight arm bar from the bottom, which the referee interpreted as a verbal tap out.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he believed the stoppage was justified and correct.
“I’m happy with the win,” Rousey said, “but I wish it would have ended less controversially.”
Much like Mehmen would have rather his bout ended without a bloody mess. Duarte probably would have preferred to escape the cage without an injury, too.
It was those cases of fighting through misfortune that defined Strikeforce Challengers 18.
“I thought it was another great night of fights,” Coker said.