Monday, February 1, 2010
Strikeforce Puts on Another Gem
Strikeforce: Miami was held this past Saturday, and it was another sign that the UFC now has competition right in it's own back yard of North America. The first fight featured former WWE star Bobby Lashley against UFC-vet Wes Sims. Sims had taken the fight on short notice and looked to be in horrible shape. After a short time on the feet, Lashley immediately took Sims down and began to work. Lashley eventually got the back and pounded on Sims causing the ref to stop the fight at just over two minutes in the first frame. Sims tried to protest that it was an early stoppage, but from the look of it he was spared from an even worse beating than he already received. Even though Lashley looked impressive, Wes Sims isn't anywhere close to a top-tier heavyweight anymore, and even he agreed it's time to step up the ladder. In fact, I'll go as far as saying the post-fight scuffle between the two was more entertaining than the fight itself.
Next was Herschel Walker vs. Greg Nagy. Much had been made of this bout as Walker, the former Hiesman Trophy winner and NFL-vet, was making his MMA debut at 47-years-old. The fight was sloppy and one sided, with Walker controlling and hurting Nagy on the ground for much of the fight. Nagy offered seemingly no offense or defense against Walker's onslaught. Walker won via TKO in RD. 3 after it looked like Nagy couldn't take anymore. It was an impressive win for Walker, but as a whole, this fight meant nothing in the big picture in the MMA world. However, I can't take away all of the positive publicity that Walker has brought to the sport because of this fight, and I have all the respect in the world for Walker because of it.
The next three fights were definitely why I enjoyed this event so much. Melvin Manhoef and Robbie Lawler had one of the most spectacular endings I have ever seen in a fight. Manhoef, the vaunted Dutch striker, was in control for practically all of the fight. He pressured Lawler, landing punches, combinations, flurries, and leg kicks that had Lawler limping by the end of the fight. A leg kick and flurry from Manhoef around the three-minute mark in Round 1 looked to spell end of the fight, and it did. For Lawler. Lawler, who was backed up against the cage, threw a hail Mary right hook that connected with Manhoef, severely hurting him. One more left from Lawler put Manhoef unconscious on the mat. Great way to get back on track for Lawler, and a really entertaining fight.
Cris "Cyborg" Santos defended her Women's 145-lb. title with relative ease against Marloes Coenen. The fight was all Cyborg, using her Muay Thai skills and ground and pound to stop Coenen. Coenen fought valiantly and even landed some counter-punches against Cyborg, but couldn't find the rhythm she needed. Erin Toughill, the former pro-boxer who once fought Laila Ali looks to be next for Cyborg, but with the way she's been rolling through people of late, you'd have to wonder who could stop her. Since her nickname is Cyborg, her performance reminds of a quote from the Governator's classic, the Terminator: "You can't stop it, you can't kill it, and it absolutely will not stop. Until you're dead."
The night ended spectacularly with the main event, headlined by perennial bad boy Nick Diaz and DREAM Welterweight kingpin Marius Zaromskis. This was a fight with fireworks written all over it. Zaromskis was coming into this fight as a human highlight reel, winning his last three fights by head kick KO, and Diaz's style is tailor made to make good fighters look bad. The fight lived up to the hype. The entire first round was the same story: Zaromskis was the aggressor and tried to lad anything he could on Diaz, but Diaz would use his reach and land cleaner, more effective counter-punches on the Lithuanian. As the seconds wore on, it was obvious Zaromskis was fading quickly and Diaz could smell blood. After a last ditch effort by Zaromskis, Diaz was able to put away the DREAM champ by TKO with just 30 seconds left in the first round to become Strikeforce's first Welterweight Champion. This was undeniably a great performance by Diaz, who I believe has now solidified himself as a top-10 Welterweight. And with this card, Strikeforce has now solidified itself as top competition for a certain Las Vegas promotion. Watch your rear view mirror Dana...