It wasn't pretty or dominant, but it was methodical. Takayo Hashi proved to be a human punching bag for Sarah Kaufman's technical striking. With the first Strikeforce 135-lb. title up for grabs, Kaufman stormed to a unanimous decision victory, 50-45 on all cards. But her lack of finishing prowess calls into question the decision to make the female fight the main event on last night's Strikeforce: Challengers card in San Jose.
Kaufman (11-0) controlled the fight with her jab and showed decent takedown defense. But Hashi (12-2) didn't seem to have anything beyond a clinch game to execute her takedowns.
"I'm really happy with my performance," Kaufman told MMAjunkie.com. "I really feel like I did execute my gameplan very well. I wasn't able to finish the fight, but I was able to control the fight."
Kaufman never really went for broke maybe out of fear that she'd end up off-balance and in Hashi's clutches.
"I just knew that she wanted to go to the ground," Kaufman said. "I'm actually really comfortable on the ground, but it's obviously where she wants to be. I may as well take her on the feet, and she said she was going to stand with me."
Kaufman also blamed the slow pace on Hashi's unwillingness to engage.
"I'm not going to throw it full force if I know I'm not actually going to be hitting her. It was more just to see how she was going to react – where she was going to feint to, where she was going to try and come back to."
The lead-in fight looked like a potential barn burner.
Karl Amoussou, who was outsized at middleweight by Trevor Prangley, was landing some heavy shots on the feet. And early on, Prangley was walking right through them. One could assume, they were eventually going to take their toll but we never had a chance to see the long term effects because an eye poke ended the fight.
Midway through the first round, Prangley (22-5-1) pawed with jab and nailed Amoussou (11-2-2) in the eye. The French fighter couldn't open his right eye and the first was stopped a few seconds later at the 4:14 mark of the first round. Without a completed round in the books, the fight was called a technical draw.
The best fight on the televised card once again came from AKA middleweight prospect, Luke Rockhold, who destroyed veteran Paul Bradley. Rockhold, who'd won all of his fights via submission, found a home for his counter right hands.
The top of Bradley's head and his chin didn't respond well to getting smashed. He was dropped twice in the first two minutes and scrambled to stay alive. But when it finally got to the feet again, Rockhold bum rushed Bradley against the cage and delivered two huge knees that forced the season 7 "Ultimate Fighter" alum to bow out of the fight at 2:24 of the first. The 6-foot-3 Rockhold is an intriguing prospect especially as his standup game gets more dangerous.