Official Strikeforce Challengers 1 Recap:
Previously unbeaten hometown favorite Billy Evangelista lost by disputed, controversial second-round disqualification to Mike Aina Friday in the main event of the inaugural Strikeforce Challengers telecast on SHOWTIME.
At the finish, neither fighter was satisfied with the outcome at the Save Mart Center.
Evangelista (9-1), of Fresno, was disqualified for “intentionally” kneeing Aina (12-6-1), of Hilo, Hawaii, in the head while the Hawaiian fighter was down. The rule is a fighter can knee a downed opponent to the body, but not the head.
“I feel bad at what happened, but I am definitely planning to protest,’’ Evangelista said. “Nothing I did was on purpose. I thought I had timed the knee perfectly and that he was on his feet when it was delivered.’’
Said Aina: “No one likes a fight to finish this way. I don’t look at it as a win for me, and he should not look at it as a loss for him. It should have been a no contest.’’
The five-fight telecast aired on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
In other SHOWTIME fights: Sarah Kaufman (9-0) of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, remained unbeaten with a hard-fought unanimous decision over determined Miesha Tate (6-2) of Olympia, Wash., in a women’s match at 135 pounds; Lavar Johnson (12-3) of Fresno scored an 18-second, first-round knockout over Carl Seumanutafa (4-3), a Samoan based in San Francisco, in a heavyweight fight; San Antonio’s Aaron Rosa (12-2) registered a 4:29 first-round TKO (choke) over Anthony Ruiz (21-13) of Coarsegold, Calif., takes on in a light heavyweight bout and Bao Quach (16-9-1) of Huntington Beach, Calif., won a unanimous decision over Tito Jones (6-3) of Sacramento, Calif., in a featherweight scrap.
In an eagerly anticipated women’s bout, Kaufman outlasted Tate in a non-stop, see-saw battle. It was the first time Kaufman was taken the distance, but she was the stronger fighter at the finish and won by the scores of 29-28 on all three scorecards.
A relentless puncher with good stamina, Kaufman bloodied Tate’s nose, but was taken to the mat twice, the first times she has ever been down.
“I give Miesha credit but I am very happy with my performance,’’ Kaufman said. “I wish I could have done more in the second round, but three rounds go by so fast. I wish they’d let us fight five-minute rounds like the guys.
Tate took down Kaufman in the closing seconds of the first round and in the first 35 seconds of the second. She kept Kaufman on her back for much of the second but couldn’t sustain her momentum in the third.’’
Johnson, a standout football player as an outside linebacker ay Madera (Calif.) High, caught an off balance Seumanutafa with a quick, brutal right uppercut that knocked the Samoan unconscious and sent him face down to the canvas. Seumanutafa tried to shoot with his head down but was nailed flush.
“This is exactly what I had practiced. I had watched tapes of Carl and knew he might try that kind of thing.
“This was an important win for my. I had my two young sons with me. No way was I going to let them see their Dad get beat up. No way they’d listen to me after that.’’
Rosa rallied after getting caught early. “He got me, but then I rocked him good with a right hand off the cage,’’ Rosa said. “I feel good. This was a big win and I am grateful for Strikeforce giving me this opportunity. He was a slick guy but he didn’t do anything that I wasn’t prepared for. did, slammed Ruiz, and was in control until the referee stopped the bout.
The victory was the second in a row for Rosa, who won the first 10 fights of his career.
In the telecast’s opening bout, Quach survived two knockdowns in the final round to win by the scores of 29-28 on the three judges scorecards. Winning for the 10th time in 11 starts, Quach appeared hurt after going down a second time but Jones didn’t follow up.
“I stuck to my game plan, which was to stick (kick) and move, and I did,’’ Quach said. “I know I won the first two rounds and he definitely got me in the third. I was dazed but he didn’t capitalize. But until the third round, he didn’t do anything. There was no doubt in my mind that I won the fight.’’
Non-televised results: Ben “The Teacher” Holscher (2-0) of Fresno submitted (rear naked choke) Cody Cantebury (1-4-1) of Sacramento at 2:47 of the first round (160 pounds); Thomas Diagne (1-0) of San Jose, Calif., won a decision over Kaleo Kwan (7-10) of Kailua, Hawaii (lightweights); Fabricio “Morango” Camoes (10-4) of Brazil submitted (rear naked choke) Torrance Taylor (7-6-1) of Cleveland, Ohio at 3:31 of the first round (155 pounds) and Spencer Herns (1-0) of San Jose won a majority three-round decision over Chad Sutton (2-2) of Fresno in a bout at 185 pounds.
Official Strikeforce Challengers 1 Results:
- Mike Aina def. Billy Evangelista via DQ (illegal knee) — Round 2, 3:40
- Sarah Kaufman def. Miesha Tate via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Lavar Johnson def. Carl Seumanutafa via KO (punch) — Round 1, 0:18
- Aaron Rosa def. Anthony Ruiz via submission (rear naked choke) — Round 1, 4:29
- Bao Quach def. Tito Jones via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Spencer Herns def. Chad Sutton via majority decision
- Fabricio Camoes def. Torrance Taylor via submission (rear naked choke) — Round 1, 3:21
- Thomas Diagne def. Kaleo Kwan via unanimous decision
- Ben Holscher def. Cody Cantebury via submission (rear naked choke) — Round 1, 2:07
Strikeforce Challengers 1 Photos (courtesy of Strikeforce):