In a throwback to the early days of MMA, Strikeforce included a one-night, four-woman tournament on last night’s Strikeforce Challengers 10 card. The tournament took place in the women’s 135 pound division and featured Meisha Tate, Hitomi Akano, Carina Damm and Maiju Kujala.
The first round pitted Tate against Kujala and Akano against Damm. In the first round of the tournament the fights would be contested over two, three minute rounds. Tate would get the better of Kujala over the two rounds, fighting at a measured pace to preserve her energy for the tournament finals. Akano advanced after submitting Damm via triangle choke at 1:48 of round 2.
So it was that Akano, known for her toughness (which was on display when she hung in there for almost three full rounds against Strikeforce Women’s 145 Pound Champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos back in April of 2009), met Tate in the tournament finals to determine the next challenger for Sarah Kaufman’s Bantamweight Championship (likely after Marloes Coenen gets her shot).
Tate did the same to Akano as she did to Kujala and soundly defeated the resilient Japanese fighter over three full rounds to earn the tournament belt and an eventual shot at Kaufman. Tate, who lost a unanimous decision to Kaufman in May of 2009, was excited over her win and for getting the chance to rematch Kaufman.
“Sarah Kaufman, you’re amazing,” Tate said in her post-fight speech. “I can’t wait to fight you again.”
She would go on to say, “It’s a dream come true. I came here on a mission and I accomplished my goal. And now it’s on to step two and getting that championship belt and getting another shot at Sarah Kaufman.”
Strikeforce Challengers 10 went down last night at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.