As Showtime Extreme opened its final Strikeforce broadcast, the first fight that fans witnessed was a middleweight contest between jiu-jitsu phenom Roger Gracie and three-time Strikeforce vet Anthony Smith.
Smith dominated the first round, which was contested solely on the feet. However, in the second frame, Gracie scored a much-needed takedown, effortlessly worked to mount and threw some ground-and-pound before securing an arm-triangle choke for the win.
What we'll remember about this fight
Although he was beaten up in the first round, Gracie can do whatever he wants once a fight goes to the ground. His fight-ending submission was quick and decisive.
What we learned about Roger Gracie
He is still too tentative with his takedowns. Knowing that he was not going to beat Smith in the striking department, he should have made more of an effort to work this fight to the ground sooner.
What we learned about Anthony Smith
His game planning is great, even if it was unsuccessful in the end. Using leg kicks and thigh punches, Smith tried to slow down Gracie and defend the takedown.
What's next for Roger Gracie
Jiu-jitsu matches can be thrilling when you have two elite grapplers going toe-to-toe. Let's hope that Gracie will get to show off his skills against a fellow submission artist in his UFC debut. A matchup with Jake Shields would be tremendous, although I think Tim Boetsch is a more likely opponent.
What's next for Anthony Smith
Although the current crop of UFC middleweights may not be as strong as the welterweights and lightweights, the division has more than enough talent and no need to add any dead weight.
Although there is no shame in being submitted by a Gracie, Smith didn't look particularly worthy of a UFC contract on Saturday night. He should take a fight or two on the independent circuit or look for work with Bellator.
If the UFC does offer him a contract, I'd like to see Smith take on a lower-ranked striker such as Alessio Sakara.
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