SAN JOSE, Calif. (June 27, 2010) – On a historic night of Mixed Martial arts presented by STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL and televised on SHOWTIME®, two-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (14-4) registered the most spectacular upset in MMA history with a 1:09, first-round submission (triangle choke) over the world’s No. 1 heavyweight and pound-for-pound fighter, Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (31-2) before 12,649 Saturday at HP Pavilion.
Fedor, a six-footer, had Werdum in trouble in the opening moments after dropping him with a right uppercut that was followed with several more punches. But from his back, Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and member of Brazil’s vaunted Chute Boxe fight squad, got Fedor into a combination triangle- and arm-choke. Within seconds, the fight was over. The famed Fedor had tapped out.
“I am so very, very happy,’’ the six-foot-four Werdum said. “He is such a strong man. He is a great fighter. I would be glad to fight him again.’’
It was the first “legitimate’’ defeat in Fedor’s legendary career. His other loss, while official, came as a result of a disputed doctor stoppage due to a cut he sustained seconds into a matchup with Japan’s Tsuyoshi Kosaka on Dec. 22, 2000.
“One that doesn’t fall doesn’t stand up. I was concentrating on the strikes and made a mistake,’’ Fedor said. “I will have to go back and analyze what happened.’’
Saturday marked the first time in MMA history, the No. 1 male and female fighters in the world fought in the same cage on the same night.
While Fedor failed in a stunning shocker, the top women’s fighter, Cris Cyborg (10-1) of Curitibia, Brazil, was her usual brutal self as she retained the STRIKEFORCE Women’s World Middleweight (145 pounds) title with a dominant second-round (2:27) knockout (strikes) over game, determined challenger, Jan Finney (8-8) of Springfield, Ohio, in one of the featured fights on SHOWTIME.
In other televised fights, former STRIKEFORCE middleweight champion and hometown favorite, southpaw Cung Le (17-3) of San Jose, convincingly stopped Scott “Hands Of Steel’’ Smith (18-7) of Elk Grove, Calif., at 1:46 in the second round; and popular, local fan favorite and former STRIKEFORCE world lightweight belt-holder Josh “The Punk’’ Thomson (17-3), of San Jose, turned back a determined bid of Pat “Bam Bam’’ Healy (23-16) of Portland, Ore., to score a hard-fought, third-round submission. A tight, even fight ended via rear-naked choke at 4:27.
In an emotional moment midway through the telecast, MMA pioneer and San Jose’s original favorite MMA son, Frank “The Legend’’ Shamrock, made one last walk down the ramp, in a suit, no less, and into the cage where he formally announced his retirement.
As the respectful fans stood and listened in appreciation, Shamrock, who is an expert analyst for SHOWTIME MMA telecasts, took the microphone, surrounded by family, promoters and executives, and said: “I’m 37. My time has come. Tonight, I announce my retirement. Tonight, I enter the cage for the last time as a fighter. I want to thank the people, my friend and an honest promoter, Scott Coker, for always keeping his word. In 2006, I threw one punch and STRIKEFORCE was born. Again, I want to thank all the people, the HP Pavilion and my family who put up with my craziness that was MMA. You, the fans were there when I won, and when I lost, and it was an honor for me to bleed and to break bones and entertain you.’’
Shamrock then slowly bowed to each side of the cage, precipitating one final roar of cheers from those in attendance.
By defeating Fedor, Werdum’s record now against the Emelianenko’s is 2-0. On Nov. 26, 2006, Werdum submitted Fedor’s brother, Aleksander, via arm triangle choke at 3:24 in the first round in Rotterdam, Holland.
Werdum may also have earned an immediate shot at STRIKEFORCE heavyweight world champion, Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem, whom he’s already defeated once. “I am ready to fight anybody,’’ Werdum said.
Cyborg, who had a meaningless point deducted for hitting behind the head in the opening round, praised Finney, who went down several times, but felt the fight could have been halted earlier.
“I was really surprised the fight wasn’t stopped in the first round,’’ said Cyborg after her 10th consecutive victory. “I know she was trying hard, but I could tell I was hurting her, especially when she was down and covering up like she was. But it is my job to keep fighting until the fight is over.’’
Cyborg was crowned the first STRIKEFORCE women’s champion in history on Aug. 15, 2009, after she stopped Gina Carano in the first round at HP Pavilion.
Finney fought as hard as anyone could expect and, true to her word, kept firing back.
“I think this, being a world title fight, could have gone on a little longer,’’ she said. “If I was really hurt, I would have tapped.’’
Southpaw Le, who had dominated Smith before getting stopped last Dec. 19, left little to doubt this time around. A spinning leg kick to the body dropped Smith and after a succession of punches, the referee stepped in. Afterward, an ecstatic Le back-flipped out.
“I want to thank Scott Coker and SHOWTIME. I know what happened last time and was determined not to have it happen again. I knew I was in shape. I was pushed really hard during training. I was totally focused. I didn’t eat pizza. I didn’t eat chocolate for six or seven weeks.
“If Scott Coker wants a rubber match, that would be fine with me. Last time was Scott (Smith’s) night. This was my night. I am the one standing.’’
Saturday’s amazing event will re-air as follows:
Monday, June 28, at 10 p.m. ET/PT SHOWTIME 2
The fights will be available On Demand beginning on Tuesday, June 29.
Versatile play-by-play broadcast veteran Gus Johnson called the action on SHOWTIME with MMA expert Mauro Ranallo and Shamrock serving as expert analysts.
Saturday’s non-televised results: Bret Bergmark won a unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-26) over Vagner Rocha; Chris Cope (TKO 2, strikes, 4:32) over Ron Keslar, Yancey Medeiros, (KO 2, punches, 1:19) over Gareth Joseph and Bobby Stack won a split decision (29-28 twice and 27-30) over Derrick Burnsed.
MMA/SHOWTIME Schedule: On July 23 at Everett, Wash., undefeated heavyweight Shane Del Rosario (9-0) will face fellow heavy hitter Lolohea Mahe (4-1-1) in the main event on STRIKEFORCE Challengers (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast). In the co-feature, unbeaten STRIKEFORCE Women’s World Welterweight (135 pounds) Champion and former ballet dancer Sarah Kaufman (11-0) will put her perfect record and crown on the line against international star Roxanne Modafferi (15-5). In other featured action, Abongo Humphrey (7-1) will take on Mike “Mak” Kyle (16-7-1) at light heavyweight (205 pounds).
For more information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive video, photos and news links on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and STRIKEFORCE mixed martial arts telecasts, along with access to the SHOWTIME Sports Facebook® and Twitter® pages, please go to http://Sports.Sho.com.