In front of over 9,000 fans at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz needed just under two full rounds to successfully defend his crown. The challenger, Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, started off the fight throwing plenty of kicks to back Diaz up. It didn't take long, however, for Diaz to feel Cyborg out and begin to land some strikes of his own. Despite Santos being able to provide Diaz with some tough moments it was very apparent just minutes into the bout that the stamina of Cyborg was going to be a factor while Diaz pressed the action.
As the round progressed Diaz began to connect with both more effectiveness and frequency than Cyborg. Diaz went on to finish the round strongly with a solid combination of punches that left the impression that the challenger was fighting on borrowed time. Surprisingly, Diaz started off the second round at a measured pace rather than looking to finish Cyborg off right away.
The beginning of the round mirrored that of the first as Cyborg threw a large amount of kicks while Diaz fended most of them off. Towards the midway point of the round both champion and challenger were striking, with Diaz getting the better of the exchanges. After getting stuffed in the first round, Cyborg is able to take the fight to the floor ultimately leading to his demise as Diaz wasted no time in locking in an arm-bar forcing Cyborg to tap out with just ten seconds left in the round, much to the pleasure of the crowd.
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With Diaz seemingly running out of quality opponents at the welterweight mark, it was wondered at the post fight press conference, where Diaz was noticeably absent, as to just who Diaz would be taking on next.
In the co-main event of the evening, Cyborg's countryman and current Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jacare Souza made quick work of the durable "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler. Heading into the fight it was no secret that Lawler was going to have to catch Jacare with some monster shots and stop him before the champion took the fight to the ground where he held a significant advantage.
Souza survived a very scary first round that had him on very unsteady legs as Lawler landed devastating shots that had the crowd on their feet. Rather than allowing Jacare to get back to his feet following a knockdown, Lawler chased his opponent to the mat where Souza was able to regain his composure.
Fans saw the fight even out after the second round was largely fought on the ground where Souza was able to attempt various submissions throughout the stanza. Just as in the second round, the third started off on their feet but was soon taken to the ground. The atmosphere in the crowd was electric as Lawler was able to pick himself up off the ground. Knowing that he had the superior jiu-jitsu of the two, Jacare immediately went back to looking for the submission. Moments later the challenger gave up his back and Souza was able to lock in a rear-naked choke at the two minute mark leaving Lawler tapping out faster than one might expect.
During the press conference immediately following the evening's bouts, Jacare acknowledged the threat that Lawler posed with his effective striking. Lawler, on the other hand, seemed bewildered as he stated often that despite having a great training camp he was inexplicably exhausted as the fight wore on.
In a battle of 40-somethings, former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker needed just a few minutes to record the second win of his young MMA career as he TKO'd Scott Carson. With the exception of an early kick that caught the attention of Walker, Carson found himself on the receiving end of most of the punishment doled out in the short span of time the fight lasted. Following Carson getting his mouthpiece knocked out, Walker pressed the action and did enough damage to warrant a referee stoppage.
Carson's record falls to 4-2 leaving him winless in this decade.
Clearly the highlight of the press conference, Walker conceded that he's nowhere near the divisions elite and most likely never will be. For now, he's content just being a part of the sport, collecting some wins and selling some chicken.
The televised opener saw the latest of the fighting Gracie's in Roger as he took on the South African MMA veteran, Trevor Prangley in a bout that made it just past the four minute mark of the first stanza. Both men seemed to be waiting for the other to make the first move leaving the crowd a bit antsy early on. However, it didn't take long before they got what they expected as Roger found his comfort zone by controlling Prangley on the ground where he eventually submitted Prangley with a rear-naked choke giving him his fourth win in as many fights..
Next up for the Strikeforce crew along with M-1 Global is the much anticipated first round of the upcoming Heavyweight Grand Prix which takes place on February 12 in New Jersey. The Showtime televised event will feature the return of Fedor Emelianenko as he takes on Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva while Andre Arlovski battles Sergei Kharitonov.
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