If you are unfamiliar with the system, this is how it works. An independent, non-biased viewer (in this case, yours truly) selects the three top performers from the event to name as the “three stars”. If you couldn’t figure it out on your own, the first star is the most impressive performer from the event, the second star is the second most impressive, and so on and so forth.
The “three stars” are judged off the effectiveness and overall impact of their performance. Still following? Good, cause here is the “three stars” from Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy.
Third Star – Jason High
Welterweight fighter Jason High had the quickest and most decisive victory on the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy fight card. High submitted Nate Moore with a guillotine choke just 26-seconds in into the first round to solidify himself as a top contender in the Strikeforce middleweight division. It was a great win for his career, but the problem is, no one saw it. High’s fight was the only one on the nine-bout card that went untelevised. Even worse, High could easily be a future title challenger at 170-pounds, but how is the organization supposed to promote him in a title fight when no one has seen his work?
High’s submission finish was the only one on the card and just one of two fights that didn’t go the distance. The only people lucky enough to see the bout were those in attendance at the Rose Garden. Either way, High earned his seventh consecutive win and pushed his Strikeforce record to 3-0. Hopefully the higher-ups in the organization were impressed enough to give him a slot on the main card, or at the very least a televised preliminary card, next time out. He deserves it.
Second Star – Lorenz Larkin
Lorenz Larkin picked up the biggest win of his young MMA career when he beat up Robbie Lawler en route to a one-sided unanimous decision win. Lawler is a very accomplished and dangerous striker, and Larkin shut his game down completely using a mix of heavy shots with both his hands and feet. While he was not able to score a knockout, Larkin clearly won every round and was never in any real danger himself, something not many of Lawler’s opponents can say after going 15-minutes with the “Ruthless” one.
Not only was Larkin’s win impressive for the performance itself, but also for the fact he did not show any issues with fatigue after starting his camp at a reported 233-pounds. It is clear that middleweight is the division for him and at just 25-years-old with an undefeated record of 13-0, he has a tremendous amount of room for improvement. Look for big things from Larkin in the future.
First Star – Nate Marquardt
In his Strikeforce debut, Nate Marquardt stole the show with his highlight reel knockout of vaunted prospect Tyron Woodley. Marquardt saved the main card from having every fight go to decision when he brutally finished Woodley in the fourth round with a jaw-dropping combination of elbows followed up by a perfectly placed uppercut. It was an outstanding performance for Marquardt who had not competed in mixed martial arts since February of 2011. His long layoff paired with a first-time cut down to the welterweight division raised a lot of questions about ring rust and potential cardio issues, but neither of those things were a problem for Marquardt as he looked very solid from the opening bell until the fight-ending finish.
What made Marquardt’s performance particularly impressive was the fact he was able to overcome getting hurt by Woodley’s strikes in both the first and third rounds by recovering quickly and keeping himself in the fight. There were a number of strong performance by the competitors on the Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy fight card, however everyone left the event talking about how amazing Marquardt’s fight was. Not only was the finish a “Knockout of the Year” candidate, but also the four-round bout with Woodley has received a number of mentions as “Fight of the Year”. Overall, things couldn’t have gone better for 33-year-old.