Strikeforce: Miami was another solid event for the promotion though I did come away with the feeling that, with the exception of the Lawler – Manhoef fight, all the bouts went pretty much as most people had predicted before-hand.
Nick Diaz Wins The Vacant Welterweight Title
In his last two fights against Scott Smith and Ken Shamrock, Nick Diaz had used his unorthadox boxing style to wear down his opponents over successive rounds rather than landing just one killer blow, but on this occasion he showed that there is perhaps a little more power in his punches than he is given credit for as he finished his opponent in the first.
His trademark pawing strikes from long range appeared to have Marius Zaromskis in trouble several times during the opening round, though Diaz’s offensive striking left gaps in his own defense that his opponent was able to exploit, tagging him cleanly with some solid, if somewhat sporadic, shots.
Diaz also fought smartly, pressing Zaromskis up against the cage early in the round and landing repeated knees to his right leg – significantly reducing the likelihood of the Lithuanian landing one of his patented head kick knockouts later in the fight.
The fight ended late in the round as Diaz once again demonstrated both good accuracy and variety of punches, including some solid digs to the body, until Zaromskis finally caved in and fell to the floor causing the referee to end the fight.
Next up for Diaz has been rumored to be Jay Hieron, who claimed a unanimous decision victory over Joe Riggs earlier in the evening. Hieron is now out of contract with Strikeforce though, making his future unclear, while Scott Coker has suggested DREAM fighter Hayoto Sakurai may be the more likely option.
As for Zaromskis, he is likely to head back to DREAM next for a title fight with Kiyoshi Tamura.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos Successfully Defends Her Title For The First Time
Cristiane Santos once again showed her dominance in the woman’s game despite facing a tenacious opponent in Marloes Coenen. This was a stiffer test than her title winning performance over Gina Carano, with Coenen showing heart, determination and solid technique, but as predicted Cyborg’s strength and aggression were obstacles the Dutch fighter could not overcome.
As well as her usual aggressive striking which allowed Cyborg to win the majority of the stand-up exchanges against the cleaner, but less powerful punches of the challenger, the defending champion also showed good positioning along with some solid ground n pound on the mat, giving Coenen few opportunities to display her submission skills.
In the third round, having lost the previous two, Coenen landed her best punch of the evening, a straight right that landed cleanly, and with force. Cyborg appeared unfazed however, and before long she was stepping up her own punching power as Coenen once again found herself with her back to the mat.
As the blows continued to reign down the referee jumped in to call a halt to the fight – somewhat prematurely I believe, as Coenen was still defending herself and trying to improve her position at the time. In fairness though, even if the fight had went on longer it’s unlikely the outcome would have been any different.
Though nothing is confirmed yet it’s likely that former pro-boxer Erin Toughill (10-2-1) will be Cyborg’s next opponent, and that should be an interesting fight. Though Coenen was convincingly beaten on the night she is still one of the best woman fighters around, and a drop down in weight to compete in Strikeforce’s upcoming 135lb tournament would appear to be a smart move for her at this stage.
Herschel Walker defeats Greg Nagy Inside The Distance In His MMA Debut.
It was by no means a flawless performance, but considering he’s 47 and was making his MMA debut on live TV, Herschel Walker gave a good account of himself against Greg Nagy.
In the early stages it was clear that his stand-up technique was questionable, but what he did show was a good takedown defense and solid wrestling fundamentals. Against an opponent of Nagy’s caliber, that, along with good cardio, would be enough to see him through the fight.
When you listen to Walker talk about the sport it’s clear he’s passionate about it, and he showed enough basic skills in this fight to warrant him being given another opportunity to compete again if he so chooses. Hopefully they will put him in against someone who puts up more of a fight than Nagy though to make it more of a contest that’s worthy of a main card spot on the event.
Robbie Lawler Snatches Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat
One of the most rewarding aspects of watching MMA is when you get those jaw-dropping moments when something completely unexpected occurs out of the blue. Last night Robbie Lawler provided just such a memorable moment when he knocked out Melvin Manhoef with practically his first punch of the night after spending the first few minutes for the fight on the receiving end of a vicious beatdown.
In the early stages of the fight Lawler must have been having flashbacks to his UFC fight with Pete Spratt in which he was forced to verbally submit after being punished with a succession of leg kicks. Manhoef had a similar strategy, and, along with some sustained attacks to his surprisingly defensive opponent, it looked to be only a matter of time before either Lawler’s leg gave way or the Dutch striker landed the final killer blow that would end the fight.
suddenly, with Manhoef on an all-out offensive with his guard down Lawler threw a perfect overhand right that instantly changed the course of the fight. Manhoef almost appeared to freeze on the spot in disbelief at what was happening before toppling over. Before he had hit the mat Lawler had landed another heavy blow that cemented his KO victory.
Lawler was somewhat evasive in his post-fight comments over who he would like to face next, and the rumor is that he may be set for a return to the UFC before long. His impressive knockout win would certainly be the perfect cue to return to the promotion where he gained his reputatation as a heavy hitter, but it’s unclear just how many fights are left on his Strikeforce contract.
As for Manhoef, though the KO loss will be a bitter blow, he showed more than enough striking prowess to ensure that fans will be eagerly awaiting his return to the promotion.
Bobby Lashley Gains Another Easy Win
This bout went exactly as predicted with Bobby Lashley taking down Wes Sims early in the fight and racking up another quick ground n pound victory to go 5-0 in his MMA career.
Lashley said after the fight that he would still prefer to continue to build gradually in order to gain more experience, but realistically he needs a tougher challenge in order to test himself and grow as a fighter. I’m not suggesting he be thrown in against a top contender, but for his benefit, and for the benefit of those watching his fight, let’s see him up against someone who at least makes him break a sweat.