'Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg' is in the books and Strikeforce produced a second straight solid effort for the show that saw Nick Diaz retain his Strikeforce welterweight title against Evangelista Santos and Ronaldo Souza retain his Strikeforce middleweight championship against Robbie Lawler.
Here are some post-fight thoughts:
Diaz certainly had some issues with "Cyborg" before finishing him with an armbar late in the second round. This was interesting because this wasn't your typical Diaz "pitter-patter" performance because Cyborg kept him at bay with a ton of leg kicks. When Cyborg wasn't getting punched in the face against the cage by Diaz, he was making a very good account for himself. Those leg kicks never seemed to visibly hurt Diaz, but they certainly did damage. This, to my recollection, is the first time we've seen Diaz get kicked like that, so we'll see if anybody else decided to employ that strategy against him.
When Cyborg got that takedown late in the round, I was thinking, "well, that's two rounds for Cyborg." That was until Cyborg made a big mistake and was caught in an armbar. There's a reason Cyborg has 14 career losses and you saw it here. It's too bad because I thought Cyborg's gas tank was empty after the first round, but he impressed me. He was never going to win a conditioning battle against Nick Diaz, but he made a good account of himself here.
Another fighter who put up a good account for himself in a losing effort was Lawler, as he fell to "Jacare" in the middleweight title fight. I really enjoyed this fight. This was one of the better examples of "striker vs. grappler" that we've seen in recent memory. Lawler throwing a flying knee and getting taken down in the first round was a real fun moment for me. I literally screamed, "What are you doing?!" as I watched.
To Lawler's credit, though, he was able to get back to his feet. Although that came only after he completely offered his neck to Jacare. I can't even remember I saw someone give their neck up like this. I know Lawler pretty much had to do it to be able to get back to his feet. I'm not sure which one I'm more stunned by: Lawler giving his neck up so readily or Jacare, noted BJJ specialist (hello, understatement) completely failing to take advantage. Then Lawler gets the better of Jacare standing and Jacare falls to his back. What does ol' Robert Glen Lawler do? He jumps right into his guard. Just baffling. Maybe I'm completely missing something or I'm just not as smart as I thought I was (save your jokes), but that doesn't seem like the best idea in the world.
Lawler just couldn't stop Jacare's takedown and that proved to be the difference. Where Lawler impressed me was his defense of Jacare's two second round armbar attempts. Perfectly defensed. Consider me impressed (yeah, I'm a poet and I didn't even know it). By the time the third round came, Lawler was in rough shape. Jacare really laid in some shots on Lawler on the ground in the second, some real vastly improved ground-and-pound. When Jacare got that takedown early in the third, I figured it was just a matter of time. There was no way Lawler was getting back up. He didn't. Jacare finished him with a rear-naked choke. Very impressive performance.
Speaking of impressive, how about Herschel Walker? This guy never ceases to amaze me. This is a guy who retired from the National Football League in 1997. I was 11. Now, the 48-year old Walker just picked up his second win in mixed martial arts, knocking around Scott Carson en route to a first-round TKO. Walker is just sick. It's crazy how far pure athleticism can get you in sports. Walker is an athletic freak and proved it again here tonight. I don't know if he could go back to the NFL right now, as he claims he could, but the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner has made an impression in MMA.
Herschel Walker: Athletic Freak
I know Carson is a carefully picked opponent and Walker has no long-term future in the sport, but I have no issues marveling at an athlete the caliber of Walker, even if it continues to come against carefully selected opposition.
Another fighter I'm interested in watching in the future is Roger Gracie, who easily dispatched of veteran Trevor Prangley via first-round rear-naked choke. Gracie has one of the top ground games in MMA, no doubt, and can go pretty far in this sport if he chooses to. Of course, he has the opportunity still make a lot of money with his school and doing seminars, but if he wants to do MMA, he can be a force because of his superb BJJ. He can be a force in the Strikeforce light-heavyweight division.