Event: Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Cyborg"
Date: Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showtime
Location: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California
Nick Diaz vs. Evangelista Santos
Luke Thomas: I think highly of Diaz's ability, but not much of his ranking. He hasn't faced a top 25-ranked fighter in any weight class since 2007. Sorry, but being ranked 7 at welterweight is a crime and whoever among the sources we consult who put him there doesn't know what they're doing. Period. As for this fight, I like Diaz and he might blow Cyborg out, but I don't think it'll be that way. Cyborg will give him a run early and given the distance he can create with a steady diet of kicks, is likely to give Diaz trouble early. I suspect Diaz will overcome, but an upset here is in way, shape or form surprising. Diaz by submission.
Kid Nate: I like this fight. It makes no sense from a promotional -- shoulda been Mayhem Miller -- or competitive angle -- shoulda been Paul Daley. But Cyborg will be a threat on the feet and it should be a barnburner. Cyborg will be hearing pitter-patters but it won't be the sound of little feet. Diaz by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I really, really want to pick Cyborg to land hard early, but this is my reputation on the line here. My reputation! Seriously though, Diaz simply should win this fight so let's roll with that. Nick Diaz by decision.
Mike Fagan: While this is far from the optimal use of Nick Diaz, props to Strikeforce for a good deal of promotional wizardry. They've taken a marginal fighter and, through a knockout victory and his wife's name, turned him into a kind-of, sort-of contender in one bout. This is a fight that Diaz should coast through, which means he'll drag this out and get himself into trouble a couple of times. Nick Diaz by decision.
Nick Thomas: Diaz is going to pepper Cyborg with shots and then go for the kill. Diaz by TKO.
Leland Roling: Cyborg is being overlooked here a bit by fans, but I still think Diaz will win the war of attrition as this fight drags on. Santos tends to get sloppy later in fights, and Diaz should win in the end. But don't believe for a second this is a cakewalk. Diaz via TKO.
Duane Finley: I definitely see this fight having action packed moments but Diaz is on a different level than Cyborg. Nick is just to slick anywhere the fight goes. It is possible Cyborg puts some power on Diaz but if that happens Diaz dumps him to the ground and works him there. I originally thought the fight may last a bit but I'm going with Nick Diaz by TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Cyborg has been on a tear lately, but I think Nick is just more talented both standing and on the ground. This should be a very entertaining scrap though, and I think Nick Diaz takes it via 100's of "pillow" punches that "don't hurt".
Ronaldo Souza vs. Robbie Lawler
Luke Thomas: Can't shake what Shields did to Lawler. Jacare's wrestling is enough to be the difference to make Lawler's obvious Achilles heel show up again...provided he doesn't get knocked out. Jacare by submission.
Kid Nate: Good fight. Very hard to call. Souza showed he's gritty and capable on the feet against Kennedy. Lawler is always dangerous. I think Jacare will avoid making the big mistake and will grind out Lawler over three rounds and then utterly dominate in the deep waters of the championship rounds. Souza by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Jacare should probably be able to win this by getting it on the ground often. I'm still going to pick Lawler because I think he'll land a crushing combo early. Robbie Lawler by TKO, round one.
Mike Fagan: Five rounds is a long time for Robbie Lawler to escape "Jacare's" ground game. I want to write more, but that pretty much sums it up for me. Ronaldo Souza by submission, round two.
Nick Thomas: Love this fight. Souza needs to grind this out on the ground. Souza by decision.
Leland Roling: It'll be interesting to see how training with Bader, Dolloway, and Simpson has evolved Lawler's takedown defense. He's great at sprawling out the wrestlers who shoot from a distance, but I see Souza getting into a clinch war and using his strength to get Lawler down. Souza via submission.
Duane Finley: I honestly think this fight all depends on Robbie Lawler. A few fights back he seemed completely uninspired to hold status in his division but he seems back to his "Ruthless" ways. With that being said Jacare, who I think would gain solid footing with the American fan base by defeating Lawler, is a beast on the ground. I know the more common pick is to go with Souza by submission but I think this is might be Lawler's night to shine and I'm going with Lawler by TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Both these guys were originally looked upon as one-trick ponies, but both of them have improved greatly on their overall game. Jacare now has very good striking to complement his jiujitsu, and his surprisingly great MMA wrestling... but if he has a hard time taking Robbie Lawler down, I still think his improved striking skills won't be enough. Lawler has a good chance of ending it standing, but I still think it's going to be Jacare by submission.
Herschel Walker vs. Scott Carson
Luke Thomas: Hard to really prognosticate given the amateur skill sets, but the better athlete usually wins when the skill sets are roughly equivalent. Walker by decision.
Kid Nate: I wish Herschel was more fun to watch fight and I really really have no desire to see him take serious punishment. But I like him as an ambassador for MMA and Strikeforce and so does Showtime so I figure they have picked someone he can beat. Walker by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Walker is simply too athletic for a guy who has only fought once in almost ten years, that's pretty much all you need to know. Walker by decision.
Mike Fagan: I hope Mauro Ranallo or Stephen Quadros or whoever does the post-fight interview asks Herschel Walker about his time in the USFL because there wasn't enough time to ask him about it on Monday's conference call. Herschel Walker by decision.
Nick Thomas: At some point in this fight, Walker will have full mount. Walker by decision.
Leland Roling: Carson has fought once in nine years. Walker via TKO.
Duane Finley: I know the Bloody Elbow faithful will read this and I'll get some guff but my honest opinion is that there is nothing serious going on here. Strikeforce likes the attention and just like his debut the most impressive thing that will be talked about after the fight is Herschel Walker's physique. Walker by TKO.
Anton Tabuena: Herschel Walker, although he has been around for almost half a century, is a freak of nature who probably will still be ripped past his 60's. Carson on the other hand, is just a regular old guy who hasn't won a bout in almost a decade. Walker by TKO.
Roger Gracie vs. Trevor Prangley
Luke Thomas: I am not a believer in Roger Gracie. It's obviously amazing he can tap 7 world-class black belts in a row in grappling tournaments with a cross choke from the mount, but MMA is another story. He's got virtually no striking and virtually no wrestling. Prangley's got a little more of each. If the fight hits the third round, things get dicey, but I like Prangley to upset. Prangley by TKO.
Kid Nate: This is a brave fight for Gracie but Prangley is too experienced and well rounded for Gracie. I liked Roger's improved stand up against Randleman and he's been training with GSP and Joe Calzaghe. He's also got a reach and an age advantage on Prangley. But Prangley will get the decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Prangley should be able to control where the fight takes place (meaning keep it on the feet) and land the big shots that end it fairly early. Prangley by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: It's disjointing watching Roger's fight with Kevin Randleman and seeing him wear plain black shorts. It looks like he stopped by the San Jose Salvation Army and found the fifty-cent green tag sale. I wonder if the lack of sponsors is some sort of statement or if he just doesn't need the money. Roger Gracie by submission, round two.
Nick Thomas: If Prangley can keep this standing, he can win this. I always pick Prangley for whatever reason, so to stay consistent Prangley by decision.
Leland Roling: Tough fight for Gracie, but I think his grappling skills will prevail. Gracie via submission.
Duane Finley: Gracie looked great against Randleman but Trevor Prangley is a bit more savvy. There is no doubting Gracie's jiu-jitsu is in the stratosphere but as is so often said in MMA, "here you get punched in the face." I think Prangley breaks his recent spell of shaky performances and after surviving an early scare takes the decision victory. Trevor Prangley by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I think Roger gets the takedown, passes his guard beautifully, then gets a choke. Roger Gracie by Submission.