(Anybody can do a punchface. That’s kid stuff. PicProps: Strikeforce)
That’s about as good as Strikeforce can do it, right there. America’s bridesmaid MMA promotion – typically cited for ineptness more than greatness – put on its best show in some time on Saturday night in San Jose. Nick Diaz and KJ Noons slogged through an exciting, if a bit repetitive, five-round main event that left Noons with a broken jaw and hand and Diaz bloodied, but still clinging to his welterweight title. The homies even looked like true homies after the final horn, hugging it out at the center of the cage. Meanwhile, Marloes Coenen appeared tall and capable in taking the women’s 135-pound belt off Sarah Kaufman, while Josh Thomson slipped by JZ Cavalcante, but once again proved that his main, main thing is making declarative statements and calling fools out.
Did the quality of the broadcast still leave a lot to be desired? Sure, Jim Ross, it always does. But at this point we’re focusing on the positives. Like the bitch mom from “American Beauty” we feel like grabbing Strikeforce by its rosy cheeks this morning and announcing: “You didn’t even screw up once!” Now on to the particulars.
Diaz won, even beating Noons at his own game for the vast majority of their bout, so it’s hard to be too critical. Yet, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a couple of, “Did Diaz Get EXPOSED???” threads show up on MMA’s more hysterical message boards. Nah, he didn’t get exposed, but he also didn’t look near as dominant in this effort as in his previous three or four outings. At his most successful, the Stockton ne’er-do-well kept Noons at the end of his jab and boxed him up with a mixture of hard shots and love taps. On the negative side, Diaz’s takedown attempts were, frankly, garbage and the most shocking thing was what happened when the fight hit the mat midway through the first. That being: Nothing. Diaz just hung on – dropping a couple of shoulder strikes – until Noons kicked him off and got back up.
Diaz didn’t even flip anybody off last night (at least not on camera), so maybe he just wasn’t feeling well. Or maybe, in a way, Noons just kind of has his number. Who knows. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is mentioning the winner of Paul Daley vs. Scott Smith and Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos as possible next opponents for Diaz. Sorry, Tyron Woodley. Guess you’re gonna have to win more than one non-Challengers fight before you get that title shot, bud.
Also, give Noons credit for battling through those injuries. Now get a haircut, you hippie.
In the women’s title match, you had to kind of know Kaufman was going to lose. The MMA Gods can be vindictive like that. It seems like anytime a guy (or girl) makes a stink about how good they are and the big shows they should be fighting on, they go out and lay an egg as soon as they get there. When Coenen managed to keep it in the center of the cage, she used her size advantage to get the best of the exchanges on the feet. She got battered a bit on the ground, but had one near miss arm bar attempt at the end of the second before catching Kaufman for reals in the third.
Coenen may have once again proved that the real problem with the women’s division is that everybody’s just too motherfuckin’ friendly when she looked like she was going to cry after (possibly) injuring Kaufman’s arm during the sub. It honestly looked like that ruined her night. Still, I think she’ll be a good champ for Strikeforce. She knows her way around an interview setting and, when she isn’t in her fighting gear, she’s fairly easy on the eyes. On the flipside, next opponent Miesha Tate showed up cageside on Saturday night looking like one of the chicks from “Bad Girls Club” dressed up for court. That pair will make for an interesting staredown, not to mention a compelling matchup of styles.
In the lightweight clash between Cavalcante and Thomson, it looked like JZ might come out victorious after clearly (?) winning the third and possibly the first rounds. The judges, however, saw things unanimously for Thomson, one of them 30-27. On the mic after the fight, Thomson shuffled quickly through his list of call-outs, re-challenging 155-pound champ Gilbert Melendez, the MMA media for underrating Cavalcante (and by extension, Thomson, for beating him) and the ringside officials for all-around crappiness.
“There’s no way I won that fight 30-27,” Thomson said. “I think these judges need to have a clinic or something.”
It was funny because it was true, and it came off far better than when Thomson called out WEC champ Ben Henderson before the fight. There’s a lesson to be learned somewhere in there. Calling out the judges for their idiocy: Cool. Name-dropping an up-and-coming fighter in another organization as being overrated: Not so cool.
Thomson said after the fight that a laundry list of injuries had him considering pulling out a few weeks ago. Lucky he didn’t. After the win, it’ll be interesting to see how many MMA rankings voters he managed to browbeat into putting him back in the top 10. My guess: Most of them.