Nick Diaz & "Jacare" Souza Retain Titles on Amazing Night Of Strikeforce Fights

Todd JacksonSenior Analyst IJanuary 30, 2011

Strikeforce has done it again. Saturday night saw a talented group of Strikeforce athletes simply light up the cage with one impressive performance followed by another. The event was topped off with two title fights, but every tilt on tap was top shelf.

In the opener Roger Gracie brought what he described as waves of his family pushing him forward as he squared off with dangerous veteran Trevor Prangley. Prangley is fresh off a dominating performance over UFC exile Keith Jardine.

Prangley’s experience toppling the once perennial UFC LHW standout was not enough to offset a century of Gracie Jiu Jitsu honed into a spear tip known as Roger Gracie. Watching Gracie fight and looking at his four submission wins in four fights sends memories flooding back of the glory days of the family name.

Simply put, when Roger steps into the cage, everyone in the room knows exactly what he wants to do, and it’s up to one man to stop him. Last night Prangley was that man and like many years ago, even with the cards tipped, he was unable to stop what he knew was coming.

Gracie has been working closely with UFC WW champion Georges St. Pierre, and if he continues to do so, it is compelling to think what he can accomplish. Congratulations to him on his rear naked choke victory.

Herschel Walker returned to the cage Saturday night for his second MMA fight ever, but watching him compete, it is hard to believe he's graced professional MMA only twice with no amateur bouts behind him.

Simply put, the man is a superior athlete hands down. He shined like sports fans are accustomed to seeing him doing, only this time he shined in a sport that is alien to him. Many were not surprised to see him light up the grid iron as he did but to see him transition to MMA as comfortably as he has really is quite a surprise.

This sport is insanely difficult for young athletes in their prime, and this man is in his late 40's and makes it look easy. That much was apparent when he dominated Scott Carson stopping him by TKO in the first round. It was really quite impressive on so many levels, one really has to wonder how far he can go.

He told fight fans he intends to be a great fighter. Go ahead and doubt the man, I dare you.

Then in the first of two title bouts BJJ ace Ronaldo Souza put his strap on the line against lethal striker Robbie Lawler. Lawler is coming off a downright scary knockout win over Matt Lindland and “Jacare” is coming off an all out war with Tim Kennedy.

Both fighters had a lot of momentum coming into this bout but it was the champion “Jacare” Souza who was destined to shine. Lawler did what he could with the opportunities he was offered, but they were few and far between as the champ smothered striking exchanges and kept the fight in his realm, the mat.

It took three rounds for him to find his opening but Souza submitted Lawler in the third by rear naked choke. Lawler as always was tough and downright game but like so many times before it seemed like only a matter of time before the inevitable would come to pass.

Souza really is an elite MW in this game and showed it one more time defending his Strikeforce title.

Then finally in the main event, like fight fans had not had enough world class MMA to send them into Sunday, Nick Diaz hooked ‘em up with Evangelista Santos. And they hooked ‘em up with a vengeance. It was MMA at its finest, no question.

“Cyborg,” as Santos is known, entered the fight like he had no knowledge what so ever of the scrappy reputation of his opponent the champ Nick Diaz. Santos attacked Diaz’s leg like it had insulted his mother.

So many times fighters have been outright removed from their game plans by something like a tenacious leg kick attack and Santos looked like he was well onto proving once again why the leg kick is a subtle yet lethal MMA weapon.

In vicious exchanges the two welterweights tore into each other and as the fight went on it became apparent that the striking of Diaz was getting the better of Santos, regardless of Santos tenderizing the champ’s lead leg.

Santos proved to be a true warrior, as his reputation indicated he would be, and he never turned away from the superior striking of Diaz, pressing forward and looking for an opening of his own.

That opening never came.

For all his unorthodox striking prowess, Diaz is a Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt with a wizardry on the ground that is rarely seen.

Late in the second round, Santos got it in his mind that if banging with Diaz was not working, than perhaps taking him down might be a sound alternative. Perhaps in the heat of the moment that seemed like a great idea but from the outside looking in it was a bit of a head scratcher.

Shortly after taking Diaz down everyone saw exactly why it was ill advised as Diaz wrapped Santos up like a straight jacket and slapped a nasty arm bar on the No. 1 contender ending the championship tilt with 10 seconds to spare in the second.

It was a world class display of the finest this sport has to offer by fighters who left it all in the cage for fight fans tuning in and sitting cage side.

To the victor go the spoils, but all the athletes competing in San Jose Saturday night showed well and proved their worth to this community. tips the hat and says thank you to to them all for their performances.

Both winners and losers came together to forge a very impressive night of fights.


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