On Saturday, January 29, 2011, HP Pavilion in San Jose, California will host live mixed martial arts action. The main event of the night features the current Strikeforce welterweight champion, Nick Diaz, defending his belt against the lethal Muay-Thai practitioner, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.
Co-main event of the night features the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist and current Strikeforce middleweight champion, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza versus the hard hitting and always competitive “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.
Remaining main event contests includes the return of former NFL football great, Herschel Walker, as well as the second fight in Strikeforce of Roger Gracie, of the famed Gracie family pedigree.
What is sure to be a dynamic night of fights and hard-punching action, I have detailed each main event fight and the keys to victory for each combatant as well as my predictions for the outcome of each fight.
Enjoy the fights.
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In his second Strikeforce matchup, Daniel Gracie enters the cage as a world renowned submission grappling champion.
Growing up in the family that created Brazilian jiu-jitsu and revolutionized the sport of mixed martial arts, Daniel’s accolades in Submission Grappling are second to none.
Three-0 overall, 1-0 in Strikeforce, Gracie holds key submission victories over MMA veterans Kevin Randleman, Yuki Kondo and Ron Waterman.
Opposing Daniel Gracie is Trevor “South African Hammer” Prangley. At 23-6-1, Prangley holds a substantial experience advantage over the Brazilian.
With only four (T)KO and 10 decision victories, Trevor’s foundation as a wrestler is the backbone to his strategy inside the Octagon.
Continually developing his stand up game at the American Kickboxing Academy, Prangley is working diligently to balance his abilities inside the cage.
As an ADCC World Submission Wrestling champion, Daniel Gracie will work feverishly to take this fight to the ground. Off of his back, Gracie is a wizard in the guard.
With the ability to lock up submissions from any position and on any body part, Gracie’s game plan is clear, make Prangley tap from a submission.
Needing to fight his instincts as a wrestler to take this fight to the ground, Trevor Prangley will want to stay on his feet and execute a variety of strikes to keep Gracie at bay and off balance.
In the end, this will be a stylistic clash favoring Gracie. Unfortunately for Trevor Prangley, his strengths as a wrestler will leave him prone to Daniel Gracie’s dominance as a jiu-jitsu specialist.
Escaping limited threats by Prangley’s strikes on his feet, the Brazilian will eventually earn a submission victory over the South African.
Winner: Daniel Gracie via submission, Round 3
The second main card fight features the former NFL football great, Herschel Walker, versus an equally inexperienced newcomer in Scott Carson.
With an overall 1-0 record as a professional mixed martial artist, Walker earned a TKO victory in his debut fight against Greg Nagy at Strikeforce: Miami in January 2010.
Physically imposing, Herschel Walker’s workouts are legendary. At 48 years old, his physique rivals that of men half his age. Utilizing the decades of intense strength and conditioning work, Walker will enter his second MMA event against the 4-1 Scott Carson.
Making his debut in Strikeforce, Scott Carson holds three submission victories in his past five fights. Equally limited in his overall fight game, a win over the widely known Herschel Walker would elevate Carson within the Strikeforce heavyweight division.
Neither fighter with much experience, this fight will match Walker’s stand up background with Carson’s submission foundation.
With Scott Carson making his debut on the big stage, he will look to make a name for himself against Herschel Walker. However, Walker’s training at the American Kickboxing Academy has adequately prepared the former football great against competition of this caliber.
A feeling out process will ultimately result in Walker imposing his will on the stand up exchanges. Eventually going to the mat, Herschel’s game plan will be to dominate Carson with brutal ground-and-pound.
In the end, Walker’s advantage in the striking department and overall conditioning level will be too much for Carson to earn a victory in his debut performance with Strikeforce.
Winner: Herschel Walker via TKO, Round 2
The Strikeforce world middleweight championship belt will be up for grabs as current title holder Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza defends his reign against “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.
Souza is 13-2-1 (3-0 in Strikeforce) with 10 submission victories to his credit. Possessing key victories over top opponents in Tim Kennedy, Joey Villesenor and Jason Miller, “Jacare” will be looking to add Robbie Lawler to his list of defeated opponents.
Continually improving in his stand up game, Souza possesses black belts in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. Dominant on the mat, Ronaldo will need to exchange with Lawler on his feet before he can attempt a submission on the mat.
Robbie Lawler’s confidence is at an all-time high after a devastating knockout of Matt Lindland in December of 2010.
With a 20-6-1 overall MMA record, Lawler excels in his boxing and wrestling backgrounds. With 15 (T)KO victories to his credit, Robbie likes to stand and trade in the center of the octagon waiting to land that one-punch knockout.
Defeated by top submission specialists in his past, Robbie Lawler will make every attempt possible to keep this fight off of the mat against Ronaldo Souza.
If this fight stays on the feet, Lawler holds a sizeable striking advantage. However, any work in the clinch by Souza will result in a take down of Lawler where “Jacare” can impose his jiu-jitsu dominance.
Challenged to make the 185-pound weight ceiling in the past, conditioning will be a factor in this championship contest for Robbie Lawler. Knowing this fact, Souza will pressure Lawler and attempt to keep this fight at an up tempo pace.
This back and forth battle will be one for the ages. Robbie Lawler is a gamer and his never say die mentality keeps him in a fight at all costs. Always with the possibility of pulling out a knockout victory, Souza can not discount Lawler’s power at any point in this fight.
In the end, Ronaldo Souza will maintain his middleweight championship belt. His evolution in his stand up game will match Robbie Lawler’s attempts in their exchanges. However, his dominance on the ground will be too much for Lawler. As the final round comes and conditioning becomes more vital, Souza will lock up a submission victory over a fatigued Lawler and retain his title.
Winner: Ronaldo Souza via submission, Round 5
The featured fight of the night matches current Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz versus Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.
A polarizing figure, either you love or hate Nick Diaz. Regardless of your opinion on the champion, Diaz’s work within the octagon cannot be dismissed.
With a 23-7-1 overall MMA record, Diaz has competed in the worlds largest mixed martial arts’ promotions against some of the very best in the sport.
Possessing significant victories over top competitors in KJ Noons, Frank Shamrock and Scott Smith, Nick Diaz is the total package as an ultimate fighter.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie, Diaz is also an accomplished boxer and has an unlimited cardiovascular gas tank. Add these physical attributes to the fact that Diaz’s brash attitude and arrogance elevate his fight game and the result is a lethal fighter with limited holes in his game.
Standing opposite Nick Diaz on January 29 will be Brazilian kickboxing sensation, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.
Member of the famed Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil, Santos made a name for himself with his relentless style and devastating leg kicks as a kick boxer.
Do not let his 18-13 overall MMA record fool you into thinking that Santos will not be a tough challenge for the current champion.
“Cyborg’s” Muay-Thai background is second to none and he hits with crisp, accurate and tenacious strikes from all angles and all levels. Also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Santos is equally competent on the ground.
This welterweight clash will feature the unorthodox, yet highly effective boxing prowess of the current champion in Nick Diaz versus the ultra aggressive, precision striking of the Muay-Thai specialist in Evangelista Santos.
With Diaz’s open stance as a boxer, his lead leg will be exposed to the vicious round house kicks of Santos. Exposing this opening, Santos should look to attack the legs of Diaz and continually change his angles and levels keeping the current champion off balance.
Fueled by his ego, Nick Diaz will want to prove that he can dominate any fighter on the planet. Weathering “Cyborg’s” storm, Diaz will eventually impose his will in the stand up exchanges. His relentless slap style boxing will ultimately frustrate Santos, exposing an opening and allowing the champion to capitalize with a myriad of strikes.
When the sweat is wiped and the blood is clotted, in the end, Nick Diaz retains his welterweight championship taking one step closer to a future match up against hated rival, Jason “Mayhem” Miller.