Strikeforce: Diaz Vs Cyborg takes place in San Jose tomorrow night, airing live on Showtime, and we’ve got our predictions for the first big event of the year from the promotion below.
Nick Diaz Vs Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos
After a long run at middleweight Cyborg recently made the move down to 170lbs and it paid off almost immediately as he scored a title fight with Diaz following just one victory over Marius Zaromskis.
The reality is he’s been thrown in to this a little prematurely but he definitely looks better at welterweight, and his aggressive, offensive striking style should make for an exciting fight. He might find difficulty coping with Diaz rangey, unorthadox style however, which will make it awkward for him to get inside and rough up the champion as he’d like. If he can do so though he certainly possesses the power to give him problems, though Diaz is well known for having a granite chin.
Despite preferring to brawl Cyborg has good BJJ offense, but Diaz is superior on the ground overall and it’s unlikely the Brazilian will be keen to test him in that regard. The biggest concern for Cyborg though is his gas-tank. He’s been known to run on empty before, and so a potential five round fight with a cardio machine like Diaz is a major concern.
Prediction: Cyborg’s best chance of winning the fight is to connect with something meaningful early. I think he’ll struggle to close the distance and Diaz will steadily begin to take control of the fight. I expect him to land a high volume of punches and eventually force a referee stoppage.
Nick Diaz to win by TKO in Rd3
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza vs Robbie Lawler
There’s no mistaking how these two fighters would like this fight to shape up. For the champion Jacare the gameplan is to get Lawler to the floor and using his world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to submit him, while Lawler will hope to sprawl and brawl, looking to land one of his famed knockout punches.
If Jacare is successful in getting him down then the fight should be all but over, and that makes takedowns the crucial factor here. Lawler comes from a wrestling background and has excellent takedown defense which will make life difficult for Jacare, but the champion has some tricks up his sleeve too, including effectively utilizing judo throws.
The Brazilian’s own stand-up has also improved significantly in recent times, so he’s not completely out of his depth should he fail to get Lawler down, but there’s still some questions over the quality of his chin, and he’d be wise not to test it out against someone as heavy-handed as the ‘Ruthless’ one.
Prediction: It’s always a tough call when you have a fighter like Lawler who can end a fight in an instant with just one punch. Jacare is a truly outstanding BJJ practitioner but I don’t think he’s quite lived up to his full potential in his last couple of fights, despite the fact he won both. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt though and feel that he’ll stick to what he knows best here and submit Lawler.
‘Jacare’ Souza to win by submission in Rd2.
Herschel Walker Vs Scott Carson
We all know Walker is a world class athlete and even at the age of 48 he still does have something left in the tank. He also showed in his MMA debut that he’s not a complete novice, showing decent grappling fundamentals, though to be fair his striking style looked awkward.
It’s hard to know quite what to make of Carson as he’s essentially been plucked from thin air by Strikeforce for this bout. At first his 4-1 record might seem respectable until you note that his last win came nine and a half years ago. He then lost by KO in his comeback fight last year.
Walker’s already shown he can go the full three rounds despite his age, but at the age of 40 and having spent the last decade on the sidelines the same can’t yet be said of Carson. If this fight goes beyond the early rounds the smart money would be on Walker being the fresher of the two fighters.
Prediction: It’s been a year since we last saw Walker and with his training continuing at AKA he’s bound to have made significant improvements to his game. Carson is something of an unknown quantity, but we all know that Strikeforce must feel he’s not a major threat to have hand-picked him for this fight, and I expect Walker to emerge with his hand raised.
Herschel Walker to win by decision.
Roger Gracie Vs Trevor Prangley
Roger Gracie certainly looks like being the most likely of the current crop of Gracie’s to make his mark in MMA, and he’s about to get his toughest test yet against a well seasoned veteran in Trevor Prangley.
Gracie is a phenom on the ground, possessing otherworldy jiu-jitsu skills. He also has natural physical gifts, standing 6ft 4″ with good reach. On the other hand his striking is still a work in progress, but he’s progressing nicely and is starting to use the jab effectively which will serve him well.
Prangley is a wrestler first and foremost, but while he’s not the most technical striker in the world he can hold his own in the stand-up and has good power. He’s also durable and holds a very significant experience advantage in MMA competition over Gracie.
Prediction: I’m tempted to pick Prangley since he’s more of a known quantity in the cage, but I like what I’ve seen from Gracie so far. Having a reach advantage and a good technical jab is invaluable against a brawler, and if the fight hits the floor he’ll provide an almost unparalleled threat from submissions.
Roger Gracie to win by submission in Rd2.