10 Things We Learned from Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons 2
The Maturation of Nick Diaz
Since emerging as the top welterweight under the Strikeforce banner, Nick Diaz has shown that he is a talented fighter who can dominate everyone in the organization at 170-pounds. Saturday night, Diaz showed that he’s growing into a fighter who might be able to hang with anyone in the welterweight ranks, regardless of organizational ties.
A fighter who wears his emotions on his sleeve, Diaz could have easily stepped in against K.J. Noons and thrown caution to the wind to get into a firefight with his arch rival. Instead, he fought a smart fight, sticking to the gameplan and using his length to pound out a unanimous decision win.
What makes this even better is that Diaz hasn’t changed outside of the cage; the outspoken, left-of-center character from the Cesar Gracie camp is as colorful as ever once the fight is done, but inside the cage, he’s doing what it takes to win every time and that is a sign of maturity.
Fight of the Year?
We’ve got ourselves a new horse in the Fight of the Year race.
As entertaining as Garcia vs. Jung was, the three-round preliminary affair was a sloppy slugfest, while Diaz and Noons put on a five-round championship clash with precise counters, quality boxing and enough showmanship to up the ante just enough.
Every outlet – and every journalist – will have their own opinion once the calendar changes to January, and for me, this is the leader at the head of the stretch. This was a grudge match that lived up to the pre-fight hype, and was entertaining for 25 minutes.
A New Champion is Crowned
Marloes Coenen showed why Strikeforce gave the veteran Dutch grappler an immediate title shot on her first trip to the 135-pound division, forcing unbeaten defending champ Sarah Kaufman to tap to an armbar in the third round.
After being battered by Cristiane Santos in January, many wondered why the organization would tab Coenen as the next contender to face Kaufman, especially with Miesha Tate waiting in the wings. No one is questioning things now, as “Rumina” lasted through some tough moments with Kaufman raining down blows, securing an arm and submitting the Canadian.
While we all knew this well in advance of Saturday night’s fights, Kaufman’s first loss continues to illustrate how difficult it is to remain unbeaten in this sport.
Having stood at the top of the mountain, Kaufman is sure to come back an improved fighter for having gone through this. When that return will take place is up in the air, as Kaufman appeared to have injured her arm.
“JZ Calvan” Has Left the Building
When he started his career in Japan, Brazilian Gesias Cavalcante was billed as “JZ Calvan” and he was as exciting and dynamic a fighter as there was in the lightweight division. Numerous injuries to his knees have stripped Cavalcante of some of those dynamic skills, and “JZ Calvan” is no longer.
Cavalcante is still a solid addition to the Strikeforce lightweight division – with the lack of depth the organization has across the board, bringing in quality talents is always welcomed – but dynamic striking performances like we saw in his earlier days are not to be expected.
He’ll still put forth quality outings like he offered Saturday night against Thomson, it’s just too bad that North American fans will only get to hear about Cavalcante’s exploits in the ring, rather than seeing them firsthand.