Scott Coker and Nick Diaz. Photo by Esther Lin/Strikeforce.
Strikeforce will air its first large event of the new year at the organization's home base of San Jose, CA, pitting reigning welterweight champion Nick Diaz against dangerous striker Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos.
"Diaz vs. Santos" will also feature Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza defending his middleweight title against Robbie Lawler as well as the returns of Herschel Walker and Roger Gracie.
Here is a look at the event's main card, which airs live on Showtime starting at 10 PM ET. A handful of preliminary bouts will stream on Sherdog.com beginning at 8:15 PM ET.
Nick Diaz vs. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos
The fight: Diaz will defend his Strikeforce welterweight championship against Santos, the husband of dangerous female fighter Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. Diaz successfully kept his strap in a rematch against K.J. Noons in the fall while Santos has righted his ship as of late, recently scoring an impressive stoppage of DREAM welterweight king Marius Zaromskis.
What to look for: Diaz has clean, crisp technical boxing and launches an assault of pestering, peppering shots that many opponents have a difficult time avoiding. However, Santos is the more dangerous and accomplished striker. The majority of his wins and losses have been knockdown, drag-out slugfests and he possesses one-punch KO power. Diaz will have to move carefully on his feet and may look to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible.
My pick: It’s hard to go against the hot streak that Diaz is currently on. Santos isn’t a very worthy contender and in reality, is a journeyman at best. Diaz by late stoppage/submission.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Robbie Lawler
The fight: Souza makes the first defense of his Strikeforce middleweight belt against Lawler, who recently brought himself back into contention courtesy of a brutal knockout of one-time top-ranked middleweight Matt Lindland, whom Souza himself defeated before also knocking off Tim Kennedy to earn the Strikeforce title last year.
What to look for: This may look like a “striker against grappler” clash on paper but don’t be fooled by Jacare’s endless accomplishments in BJJ: he has shown a pretty decent stand-up game as well. Keeping the fight on the feet against Lawler would be a bad idea though. The H.I.T. Squad member can knock out anyone, at anytime.
My pick: The chances of Jacare making a mistake on the feet and Lawler capitalizing are higher than your normal fight due to Lawler’s list of quick and surprising finishes, but I’m hard pressed to fully believe that Lawler can avoid the threat of Jacare on the ground for five whole rounds. Jacare by submission.
Herschel Walker vs. Scott Carson
The fight: Walker returns to the professional arena for the second time, very close to the one-year anniversary of his MMA debut, to take on Carson, a former member of The Pit who has only fought one time in the last nine years.
What to look for: Neither fighter brings very much experience into the cage, although Carson may hold the edge in terms of years spent training. Walker will hold a decided advantage in athleticism. He’ll likely try to get Carson to the ground and control the fight from there, just as he did against Greg Nagy last January.
My pick: Unless Carson has a trick up his sleeve, I’ll go with Walker by decision.
Roger Gracie vs. Trevor Prangley
The fight: Gracie, one of the pound-for-pound best grapplers in the world, takes on Prangley, who is coming off of the biggest win of his career – an unanimous decision over former UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine. For Gracie, it’s a chance to extend his record to a perfect 4-0 while Prangley will try to stay relevant with age.
What to look for: Prangley is a solid wrestler in his own right, but he’ll want no business going to the ground with Gracie, who is as decorated a submission artist as they come. Gracie has been criticized for not improving his overall skillset and lacking basic techniques standing and wrestling. If Prangley’s takedown defense is good enough, he’ll have a great chance in this one.
My pick: Prangley is certainly going to give Gracie fits, but I’ll bank on him evolving as a martial artist just enough to be able to get Prangley to the mat and lock in a submission.
Next entry: Rock the Vote: Strikeforce Title Bouts
Previous entry: Wagner Stops Sylvia in 32 Seconds at TFC 16