Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010 | 12:31 a.m.
Saturday’s main event bout between Strikeforce light heavyweights Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal and Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante was a fairly technical affair through the first two rounds.
A straight right from Cavalcante in the third round put an end to that.
The Strikeforce 205-pound title fight in Houston, Texas, quickly turned into a brawl after Lawal got caught with the first big shot of the night early in the third round.
Lawal (7-1) responded to the hit by aggressively going after Cavalcante (10-2), only to end up eating a big knee from the Brazilian, which he was never able to recover from.
The end of the fight came 74 seconds into the round, when referee "Big" John McCarthy stopped the fight after it was clear Lawal was hurt despite latching onto Cavalcante’s legs against the fence.
The win gave Cavalcante the first world title of his career, which he credited to his teammates.
“This is not about me, it’s about my coaches,” Cavalcante said. “My team, my partners, my trainers — they give me support.”
As for Lawal, the former champ promised the loss would only make him stronger.
“I just need to make some adjustments is all,” Lawal said. “He fought a hell of a fight. I’ll come back stronger. Losses always make true champions stronger.”
In the co-main event, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza edged out Tim Kennedy by unanimous decision to claim the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title.
In a fight where neither fighter was able to give the judges a definitive moment to score on, Souza (13-2) may have stole the decision with an overhand right in the third round that opened a deep cut near Kennedy’s (12-3) left eye.
Although known more for his ground skills than his standup, Souza chose to trade strikes with Kennedy throughout the 25-minute fight. The Brazilian fighter attempted just four takedowns, none of which were successful.
“He’s a tough guy. Tim Kennedy is a warrior,” Souza said. “I had a hard time taking him down so I had to stand with him.”
Souza won the bout by scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47.
Also on the card, former WWE star Bobby Lashley suffered the first loss of his mixed martial arts career, falling to Strikeforce newcomer Chad Griggs by TKO in the second round.
Lashley (5-1) was able to take down Griggs (9-1) at will throughout the fight but appeared exhausted midway through the second round.
After Griggs finished the second round with a series of unanswered punches, Lashley was slow enough getting to his feet that referee Jon Schorle waved it off.
“That guy is so big and strong, I could feel him burning energy trying to hurt me,” Griggs said. “He hit a couple punches but everything else was grazing off me. I just tried to stay relaxed.”