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Strikeforce: Henderson golden; Coenen survives

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Dan Henderson landed his “H-bomb” on Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante Saturday night to win the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship in Columbus.

The “H-bomb,” Henderson’s patented right-handed punch, landed 50 seconds into the third round. Henderson followed the right hand with a barrage of punches on the ground before referee Dan Miragliotta called the fight.

The crowd of 7,123 was heavily in Henderson’s corner and roared when he landed the knockout punch.

The first two rounds of the fight were closely contested as both fighters exchanged blows early, before ending up clinched on the cage. Cavalcante landed a punch that rocked Henderson early in the first round and knocked him down. Henderson’s experience, however, allowed him to shoot for a takedown immediately after and recover from the blow.

“He definitely knocked me down,” Henderson said.

Winning the title for Henderson was the most important victory since his days in the Pride Fighting Championships.

“(The title) is just the cherry on top, and I like cherries,” Henderson said.

The light heavyweight championship was not the only title on the line at the event. Marloes Coenen successfully defended her title against Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche, defeating her with a fourth-round triangle choke.

Carmouche fought strong early, ending the second and third rounds from the mount position and landing punch after punch on Coenen. In the fourth round, Coenen caught Carmouche in the triangle choke and forced Carmouche to tap out.

Coenen was impressed with Carmouche and said that she is a future champion in mixed martial arts.

“Liz is very, very talented, and she will be a champion someday,” Coenen said.

Carmouche said the compliment made her feel as though she won, regardless of the real outcome.

“I felt like I won for a second,” Carmouche said. “To have the champion turn around and tell you that’s going to be you someday, that’s an honor.”

Carmouche, who took the fight with less than two weeks notice, said she had been balancing training for the fight with studying for finals. Carmouche is studying kinesiology and plans to become a personal trainer in the future.

“The biggest challenge is that I have finals in school, so I’m studying for exams while training,” Carmouche said. “I managed to pass those exams, while still going to training and coming to fight.”

In one of the night’s most compelling fights, Tim Kennedy defeated Melvin Manhoef with a first-round submission via a rear-naked choke.

Kennedy said he wanted to knock Manhoef out while giving the fans a show.

“When I’m out there, I’m going to put on a show,” Kennedy said. “I’m not going to get tired, you’re not going to see me put my hands on my hips and take a step back, I’m going to be coming forward all the time.”

With the win, Kennedy moves a step closer to a rematch for the middleweight championship. Rather than calling out Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza, Kennedy called out the division’s No. 2 fighter, Robbie Lawler.

“Right now, I think I’m a pretty decent fighter. But not many people know who I am. So let me fight the Cung Le’s, the Robbie Lawler’s, and let me demonstrate that I deserve to be considered one of the better fighters,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also added that he has a limited window before he returns to the army. Kennedy is an Army Special Forces veteran, serving with the Green Berets. Kennedy was awarded the bronze star for his efforts in the Iraq War.

“I feel like I’m wasting my time if I’m not in the cage because I’m a sniper, I’m a Ranger and I’m a Green Beret. I’ve been to every cool-guy school that Special Forces has,” Kennedy said. “I’m completely wasting my life away if I’m not taking an opportunity to be in a cage. If I’m not in the cage, I’m going to go back to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Fan favorite Jorge Gurgel fought in the night’s prelims, defeating Billy Vaughan with a guillotine choke 44 seconds into the first round. Vaughan is the older brother of Ohio State wrestler Jacob Vaughan.

Gurgel said fighting on the preliminary card, which is not televised, was insulting to him.

“To be honest with you, they treat me great, but being on an undercard was a little bit insulting,” Gurgel said. “It didn’t matter to me today. But yes, I don’t care who I fight or when I fight, but I definitely think it should be on the televised portion of the evening.”

Strikeforce will hold its next card on April 1, when it brings Strikeforce Challengers 15 on Showtime.

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