CINCINNATI -- Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante took out Olympic wrestler Yoel Romero with a deluge of impressive striking at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov on Saturday night.
A very tentative beginning was broken up in the first round by a leaping kick from Romero. It didn't do much, but it was pretty. Cavalcante made the first contact, landing a whipping leg kick. Romero continued to move around, leaping out of the way for most strikes. Referee Dan Miragliotta finally stopped the bout to warn Romero that if he didn't engage, a point would be deducted.
In the second round, Romero threw a kick that landed in Cavalcante's crotch. After a break Romero unloaded, hitting Romero with several unanswered punches. Cavalcante tried to answer back with kicks, but Romero deftly moved out of the way from them. He pinned Cavalcante against the fence. After Cavalcante took Romero down, the Cuban pushed him off, then quickly returned to his feet.
Cavalcante threw a kick that missed but then he spun around with a backfist that knocked Romero to the ground. Feijao followed him there with ground and pound. Romero somehow got back to his feet, but Feijao didn't let up. He threw knees and punches until Romero fell to the ground. He then landed one last to knock Romero out at 4:51 in the second round.
For Feijao, this was his first fight back since losing the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt to Dan Henderson. Though his first round was slow, he showed a great chin in surviving Romero's onslaught, and then having the striking skill to end the fight.
This was just Romero's fifth fight. Though his credentials are top-notch, he still clearly has much to learn about striking.