Previously unbeaten hometown favorite Billy Evangelista lost by disputed, controversial second-round disqualification to Mike Aina Friday in the main event of the inaugural Strikeforce Challengers telecast on SHOWTIME.
At the finish, neither fighter was satisfied with the outcome at the Save Mart Center.
Evangelista (9-1), of Fresno, was disqualified for “intentionally” kneeing Aina (12-6-1), of Hilo, Hawaii, in the head while the Hawaiian fighter was down. The rule is a fighter can knee a downed opponent to the body, but not the head.
“I feel bad at what happened, but I am definitely planning to protest,’’ Evangelista said. “Nothing I did was on purpose. I thought I had timed the knee perfectly and that he was on his feet when it was delivered.’’ Said Aina: “No one likes a fight to finish this way. I don’t look at it as a win for me, and he should not look at it as a loss for him. It should
have been a no contest.’’
The five-fight telecast aired on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
In other SHOWTIME fights: Sarah Kaufman (9-0) of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, remained unbeaten with a hard-fought unanimous decision over determined Miesha Tate (6-2) of Olympia, Wash., in a women’s match at 135 pounds; Lavar Johnson (12-3) of Fresno scored an 18-second, first-round
knockout over Carl Seumanutafa (4-3), a Samoan based in San Francisco, in a
heavyweight fight; San Antonio’s Aaron Rosa (12-2) registered a 4:29 first-round TKO (choke) over Anthony Ruiz (21-13) of Coarsegold, Calif., takes on in a light heavyweight bout and Bao Quach (16-9-1) of Huntington Beach, Calif., won a unanimous decision over Tito Jones (6-3) of Sacramento, Calif., in a featherweight scrap.
In an eagerly anticipated women’s bout, Kaufman outlasted Tate in a non-stop, see-saw battle. It was the first time Kaufman was taken the distance, but she was the stronger fighter at the finish and won by the scores of 29-28 on all three scorecards. A relentless puncher with good stamina, Kaufman bloodied Tate’s nose, but was taken to the mat twice, the first times she has ever been down.
“I give Miesha credit but I am very happy with my performance,’’ Kaufman said. “I wish I could have done more in the second round, but three rounds go by so fast. I wish they’d let us fight five-minute rounds like the guys. Tate took down Kaufman in the closing seconds of the first round and in the first 35 seconds of the second. She kept Kaufman on her back for much of the second but couldn’t sustain her momentum in the third.’’
Johnson, a standout football player as an outside linebacker at Madera (Calif.) High, caught an off balance Seumanutafa with a quick, brutal right uppercut that knocked the Samoan unconscious and sent him face down to the canvas. Seumanutafa tried to shoot with his head down but was nailed flush.
“This is exactly what I had practiced. I had watched tapes of Carl and knew he might try that kind of thing. ”
“This was an important win for my. I had my two young sons with me. No way was I going to let them see their Dad get beat up. No way they’d listen to me after that.’’ Rosa rallied after getting caught early. “He got me, but then I rocked him good with a right hand off the cage,’’ Rosa said. “I feel good. This was a big win and I am grateful for Strikeforce giving me this opportunity.”
He was a slick guy but he didn’t do anything that I wasn’t prepared for. The victory was the second in a row for Rosa, who won the first 10 fights of his career. In the telecast’s opening bout, Quach survived two knockdowns in the final round to win by the scores of 29-28 on the three judges scorecards. Winning for the 10th time in 11 starts, Quach appeared hurt after going down a second time but Jones didn’t follow up.
“I stuck to my game plan, which was to stick (kick) and move, and I did,’’ Quach said. “I know I won the first two rounds and he definitely got me in the third. I was dazed but he didn’t capitalize. But until the third round, he didn’t do anything. There was no doubt in my mind that I won the fight.’’
Non-televised results: Ben “The Teacher” Holscher (2-0) of Fresno submitted (rear naked choke) Cody Cantebury (1-4-1) of Sacramento at 2:47 of the first round (160 pounds); Thomas Diagne (1-0) of San Jose, Calif., won a decision over Kaleo Kwan (7-10) of Kailua, Hawaii (lightweights); Fabricio “Morango” Camoes (10-4) of Brazil submitted (rear naked choke) Torrance Taylor (7-6-1) of Cleveland, Ohio at 3:31 of the first round (155 pounds) and Spencer Herns (1-0) of San Jose won a majority three-round decision over Chad Sutton (2-2) of Fresno in a bout at 185 pounds.
SHOWTIME will replay Friday’s telecast on Thursday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME TOO. It will be available ON DEMAND beginning Monday, May 18.
Mauro Ranallo called the action from cageside with Stephen Quadros and Pat Miletich serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is David Dinkins, Jr., with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
UPCOMING on SHOWTIME: Andre Ward, the 2004 Olympic Games gold medalist, will headline in front of the hometown fans when the undefeated, No. 2 ranked super middleweight faces Edison Miranda tomorrow/Saturday, May 16, in the main event on a special Saturday primetime edition of ShoBox: The New Generation (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Mixed martial arts returns to SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT ) on Saturday, June 6, when Robbie Lawler throws down with Jake Shields in the Strikeforce main event at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. In other top televised fights, Nick Diaz, fresh off his dominant victory over legendary Frank Shamrock, faces Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith, who is coming off a dramatic,
comeback knockout over Benji Radach, Phil “The NYBA” Baroni takes on Joe Riggs and Kevin “The Monster” Randleman (17-12) will make his long-awaited return to MMA against Mike Whitehead (23-7). Middleweight wrecking machines “Smokin” Joey Villasenor (26-6) and
Evangelista Cyborg (16-12) will face off in the main event on Strikeforce Challengers in Kent, Washington on Friday, June 19, at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
On Saturday, July 11, on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, Vic Darchinyan
(32-1-1, 26 KOs) will attempt to become a world champion in a third weight class when he challenges IBF bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko (26-1-22 KOs) live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
For information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast info and more, please visit the SHOWTIME Sports website at