(Ah, memories. PicProps: MMA Weekly)
The Diaz and Noons clans renew their Hatfield vs. McCoy-style family feud tonight in the Strikeforce cage. We all know what happened last time. A lot has changed in the three years since doctors stepped in to award Karl James Jr. a first-round victory over Nickolas Robert in EliteXC. In the wake of that fight, one guy opted to let surgeons fix his face. The other guy got called “luckier than a dog with two peckers.” The weirdo 160-pound strap they fought over in EliteXC doesn’t even exist anymore. Perhaps most importantly, homies everywhere have been reminded not to be scared. Kind of makes you shudder to think what might happen in the rematch, huh?
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And we’re off. Mauro and Shamrock are live cageside at the HP Pavillion. Ranallo has his hair slicked back like a two-bit gangster and his glasses are casting a malevolent shadow over his eyes. Guess we’re dealing with Evil Mauro tonight. Shammy says Nick Diaz is only happy when he’s pushing his physical self to its limits. And hey! Miletich is there too, somehow looking like the most professional broadcaster of the bunch, with a dapper suit-and-tie ensemble. Way to class it up, Pat. Woodley vs. Galvao is up first …
Andre Galvao vs. Tyron Woodley
Woodley comes out light on his feet, changing levels early. They trade jabs and then Woodley stings him with a one-two combo. Galvao tried a shitty takedown and Woodley stuffed it and hammered him on the side of the head a few times. Woodley knocks Galvao down with a left, but lets him stand up. Another terrible takedown try from Galvao, who just tags him twice more in the face. Hard. Galvao goes stumbly as he tries to stand up, goes for another lame shot and winds up flat on his face. Woodley steps forward to blast him a few more times and the ref stops it.
Tyron Woodley def. Andre Galvao by TKO (punches), round one.
During his post-fight remarks, Woodley says he should get the next title fight. He says he’s going to “sit down Indian-style and watch this title fight” and get ready to make a run at the welterweight championship. During an interview with Strikeforce’s backstage chippy, KJ Noons actually sounds surprisingly articulate but doesn’t say anything interesting. Strikeforce spends about five minutes showing how many of its fighters are sitting at cageside (basically all of them). Gilbert Melendez looks into the camera and says "Later, Noons," and gives a thumbs down. That was actually pretty awesome.
Coenen tries a low kick early but misses. The height advantage is evident here. Coenen lands a low kick after a fairly slow first minute. Kaufman whips off a good combo, but doesn’t seem to stymie Coenen. After a punching exchange at the 3:00 mark Coenen gets the clinch, but gets pushed against the cage by Kaufman. Coenen reverses and lands a nice elbow. The ref breaks them up with 2:06 left. Coenen find a home for an overhand right and they go back to the fence. Another restart with 45 seconds to go. Coenen hits Kaufman with a couple of body kicks. They open up a bit in the last 10 seconds. I gotta give that one to the challenger. 10-9 Coenen.
Kaufman looks like she might try to be more aggressive here. She lands a couple punches in the early stages. They clinch in the center and Kaufman backs Coenen to the fence again. The boos start to rain down from the crowd. The fighters trade a few knees. Ref breaks them with 3:00 left. Good body kick by Coenen, but Kaufman catches it and bulls her back to the fence. Coenen tries a knee to the head but doesn’t quite get it there. Another restart with 59 seconds on the clock. Coenen whiffs a high kick. Kaufman lands a right hand counter off a Coenen kick. Coenen gets a hip toss, but Kaufman winds up on top and blasts Coenen with some punches. Coenen throws up an arm bar attempt just before the bell, but Kaufman shakes it off. 10-9 Kaufman.
Coenen gets an early single-leg, but gets immediately swept by Kaufman. The champ puts Coenen’s head against the cage and drops some hammerfists. Kaufman postures up, and slams her with a body shot and another flurry of hammerfsts. Coenen throw up an arm bar and sinks it. Kaufman taps. The referee steps in to stop it.
Marloes Coenen def. Sarah Kaufman by submission (arm bar), round three.
Kaufman looks like she’s pissed that Coenen kept cranking the arm bar after she tapped. Coenen appears really remorseful about it. Seriously, like she might start crying. She says she “deeply apologizes” during her post-fight interview, saying she couldn’t tell that Kaufman was tapping.
Ah, good, here’s that Diaz interview we’ve been waiting for. Dude looks like he’s at a funeral. Diaz claims he is not an emotional fighter, even though people keep saying that about him. “I’ve been getting in fights since I was pretty young,” he says. “So I just try to keep it real.” Diaz couldn’t possibly look more bored and pained to be talking to Heidi Androl. Thankfully, it’s pretty short.
Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante vs. Josh Thomson
JZ appears to be wearing standard basketball shorts. There also seems to be some confusion over a sleeve Thomson is wearing on his knee. Finally, they make him take it off. And Big John says let’s get it on. They spazz through an early combo, ending with a JZ right hand. Thomson lands a kick. Then a low kick from JZ and he clinches against the cage. A hard knee from JZ. As they come back to center, Thomson uses a push kick. Inside leg kick from Thomson. JZ is trying to load up huge shots. He drops Thomson with a right and follows him down and pulls into a guillotine try. Arm-in, but it’s deep. Thomson thought about tapping, but eventually pops his head out. Thomson works a little ground and pound. JZ tries out the rubber guard, but Thomson passes to the side and locks up an arm triangle with 10 seconds left. JZ survives to the bell. That round could go either way.
Thomson looks to keep his distance early and avoid the power shots of JZ. Cavalcante closes the distance and pushes him against the cage with 4:10 left. They trade position against the chain link over the next minute and a half. Thomson gets a takedown with 2:20 left and takes JZ’s back. Thomson gets one hook in and lands some right hands to the face. He rides the position for a bit before trying his arm triangle again. JZ slips out of it, and gets back at least to half guard. Thomson throws some more good shots just before the bell. 10-9 Thomson.
Thomson tries an early shot, but can’t get it. He clinches against the fence with 4:30 to go. They trade some knees, but Cavalcante gets a takedown straight into the mount at about the four-minute mark. Thomson gets his guard back and uses the rubber guard with 2:30 left and he mugs for the camera. Unbelievable. JZ gets free and they exchange on the feet, ending up with JZ on top again in the last minute. JZ lands a few shots. Thomson lands an upkick, but it goes the distance. JZ might’ve taken that round.
Huh. Well, thought it would be a close decision, but it’s not: Josh Thomson def. JZ Cavalcante by unanimous decision (29-28 x 2, 30-27)
In his post-fight Thomson says he “felt like shit tonight” and says “Knock, knock, Gilbert” because he’s coming for the title again. He also says: “There’s no way I won that fight 30-27 … these judges need to have a clinic or something and figure out how to judge these fights.” And just like that, Josh Thomson just won me over all over again.
Heidi Androl is back! This time interviewing Dan Henderson and Babalu Sobral at cageside. She asks what fighting back at light heavyweight means to Hendo and he basically says, “I won’t have to try that hard.” Babalu says a lot of stuff I don’t understand, but then seems to offer Henderson a bet involving a bunch of beer over the outcome of their fight. Hendo, obviously, takes him up on that.
After a few more minutes of the Strikeforce broadcast team doing a really terrible job reading off their teleprompters, it’s main event time …
Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons
Josh Rosenthal gets us started and Noons takes the center of the cage. Noons misses a wild hook. Diaz is doing his weird stance, holding his hands up at arm’s length. Good jab and 1-2 by Diaz. Noons lands a body shot. A left hook and uppercut by Noons, but Diaz drops him with a counter cross. Diaz follows him down straight to side control. Slams the face with a couple of shoulder strikes. Noons kicks him off and stands, and Diaz is holding his hands at his sides on the feet. Another jab by Diaz. Noons comes in with a combo and shakes off a takedown attempt. Two body shots by Noons. Diaz with another pair of jabs. Noons wings some wild power shots, but comes up empty. Diaz is talking to him and Noons lands a left hook before the bell. 10-9 Diaz.
Noons tries to gauge the distance with the jab. Diaz throws some high kicks but Noon tags him with a left hook. Diaz just mean mugs him in response. Diaz is cut above the eye. Noons lands a few more shots to the face. Diaz tries a lazy takedown, but can’t get it. Noons with another left hook. Diaz counters with a right. Noons is starting to pick him apart a bit. Diaz keeps trying to pat him with the jab. Then a good body kick by the champ. They trade low kicks. Both guys rips body shots. Noons lands a right hand. Low kick by Diaz. Noons sets him up with a jab and lands a good knee to the body. Noons easily won that one. Diaz has to get him down. 10-9 Noons.
Diaz shoots for an early single, but Noons steps out of it. Diaz pops his head back with a jab. Then a right. Diaz is trying to be more active. He lands a left. Diaz is just tapping him at range here. Noons trying to counter, but mostly coming up empty. There’s a couple of good jabs from Noons. The first three minutes is just vintage Diaz-style striking, though. Gets a clinch and tries a knee, but misses. Noons hits him with a good body shot, but Diaz comes back with a 1-2. Then a good left. He’s boxing him up. 10-9 Diaz.
First time into the fourth for either guy, Mauro says. Diaz tries an axe kick. No, really. Then he lands a body shot. Noons lands an uppercut when Diaz tries to clinch. Low kick from Diaz. Overhand right by Noons. At the 3:00 mark, a hard right by Diaz. Noons chops away with the left. Another good combo by Diaz using his reach. Big left hand from Noons. Diaz is just peppering his face, however. Diaz lands a knee from the Thai clinch with 1:30 left. There’s a big uppercut by Noons that might’ve rocked Diaz. Diaz comes back to blast him with a big knee and a right cross. He tries to taunt Noons with some crazy kicks and gets punched in the gut for his trouble. Close round. 10-9 Diaz.
Low kick by Diaz to begin the final round. Diaz dives in for a takedown, but Noons stumbles away from it. Good kick from Diaz. Diaz throwing more punches in bunches. The pace has slowed considerably here. Diaz got in deep on a double-leg with 2:50 left, but Noons powered out of it. Noons throws some go-for-broke punches. There’s a hard straight right from Noons with 1:45 left. And another one. Diaz doesn’t seem to mind, though. More popping jabs from Diaz in the final minute. They stand and trade down the stretch, but not much of substance. I’m giving it to Diaz, 10-9.
They throw the CompuStrike numbers up on the screen as we await the decision and, man, they’re total bullshit. Total punches thrown from Noons: 611. From Diaz: 443. There’s no possible way that’s right.
Here it is: Nick Diaz def. KJ Noons by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-47, 49-46)
They share a long embrace in the cage. So I guess they’re bros now. Mauro calls it one of the greatest five-round fights in MMA history. Don’t know about that. Diaz says some almost unintelligible stuff about how he’d beat Noons standing, or on the ground, or in a boxing match. It’s whatever.
And it is. It is whatever. Showtime leaves us with a look at “Dexter.” So, yeah, I’m not watching that. I’m out.