Keeping up with its every-other-month schedule, Strikeforce returns Saturday for "Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons II" which will be headlined by both men's and women's welterweight championship bouts. On the men's side, Nick Diaz will defend his title against challenger K.J. Noons, who is moving up from 155 pounds for the fight. The two first met in 2007, a Noons TKO victory from a cut stoppage. On the women's side, Sarah Kaufman will defend her title for the second time when she meets Marloes Coenen.
Here are what your fearless prognosticators at MMAForReal.com see happening come Saturday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Welterweight Championship: Nick Diaz vs. K.J. Noons
Matt Bishop - I am really excited for this fight. Their first fight was very entertaining and Noons really took it to Diaz. Now, at 170 pounds for this fight, I think Noons is going to take Diaz's championship. His striking is too much for Diaz to take and Diaz won't be able to make him pay with his striking. Noons via TKO, round 2.
Rich Wyatt - This is one grudge match I've waited quite some time to see. Noons has crisp, effective boxing. But I see Diaz staying busy enough to frustrate Noons with his work-rate and rangy, awkward style. Also, obviously, if Diaz elects to take this fight to the canvass, Noons could be in real trouble. I think that K.J. survives but loses a competitive decision in this one. Diaz via decision.
Anthony Pace - I'm not quite enamored with Noons' "pro boxing experience". Diaz has cut back on his arm-punching and lightened up his footwork since their first bout. Also, I'm a huge mark for Andre Ward, who Diaz brought in for preparation against Noons. Nick Diaz via Decision
Women's Welterweight Championship: Sarah Kaufman vs. Marloes Coenen
Matt Bishop - This fight, to me, is Kaufman's to lose. Coming off a very impressive knockout in July, Kaufman will look to prove she does indeed belong on a main Strikeforce card in this fight. This is a big fight for me. Coenen is no pushover, but I don't think he has much for Kaufman. Kaufman will pepper her on the feet and will easily be able to avoid anything Coenen has on the ground. Kaufman via unanimous decision.
Rich Wyatt - I've only seen limited footage of both fighters but my inclination is to favor Kaufman in this matchup. I think she'll avoid getting caught in a submission long enough to land some effective strikes and take this win via decision. Kaufman by decision.
Anthony Pace - I kind of want to go with the upset pick here. Coenen's loss to Cyborg Santos means nothing to me here and I feel like she could be a great threat off her back. But I suspect Kaufman is good enough and strong enough to avoid/power out of submissions. Kaufman via Decision
Gesias Cavalcante vs. Josh Thomson
Matt Bishop - It's a minor miracle both men made it to this fight given their recent injury histories. At one point, JZ was one of the best lightweights in the world. Now he has one win in the last three years. Thomson is looking to climb back into the lightweight title picture and a win here could certainly give him a third fight with Gilbert Melendez. I think, though, when push comes to shove, JZ is going to have more to prove. Cavalcante by decision.
Rich Wyatt - Yes, the theme of the night could be decisions. I see Thomson executing a nice gameplan here, smothering JZ and scoring with some nice ground and pound. Lool for "The Punk" to come away with the "W". Thomson via decision.
Anthony Pace - This could be fight of the night. Thomson is a solid, tough veteran, but I think JZ starts working his way back to the top of the 155 lbs. ladder and probably a shot at Gilbert Melendez early next year in the thin division. Cavalcante via KO
Tyron Woodley vs. Andre Galvao
Matt Bishop - I think the bloom is off the rose with Andre Galvao. His fight against Jorge Patino in August was not what you want to see out of someone who has the ability to be a good MMA fighter. Woodley is a prospect who is on the rise and I think he puts a hurt on Galvao here, breaking the Brazilian's will in the process. Woodley via TKO, round 2.
Rich Wyatt - "Promising" might be the best word to describe young Tyron Woodley. He is still a raw young fighter but he has shown that he has some real potential. Woodley has won most of his bouts via submission but he's facing a legit opponent here, not to mention one that is versed in submissions. I see Woodley winning this bout via decision. Woodley via decision.
Anthony Pace - Galvao looked less than inspiring in his last match against Jorge Patino. Woodley is an excellent wrestler, but he's never faced a grappler the caliber of Galvao. Either way, it's an interesting battle of two elite grapplers who are meeting as prospects in the larger MMA picture. Galvao via Submission