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Strike Force: Diaz vs. Noons 2 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on October 19, 2010, 4:59 AM

Strike Force: Diaz vs. Noons 2

San Jose, California

-Your hosts are Mauro Renallo, Frank Shamrock and...Pat Miletich. No Gus Johnson! Poor Mauro has changed his hairstyle though and now resembles Dracula. They discuss Diaz vs. Noons with Frank freely admitting that Diaz beat the hell out of him when they fought Ė without fishing for a rematch which is odd but obviously makes sense now Frank is retired.

Welterweight Fight: Tyron Woodley vs Andre Galvao

Two of Strike Forceís top 170lbs prospects matched up here, then. BJJ ace Galvao had made the jump from DREAM earlier in 2010 and since then heíd won two fights on the undercards, beating Luke Stewart and Jorge Patino, while Division I All-American Woodley Ė after inexplicably being turned down for TUF 9 (apparently the UFC wanted to build UK stars and didnít want a strong wrestler holding them down...) Ė had built an undefeated 6-0 record, including four impressive wins in Strike Force. While I like Galvao (heís another one who reminds me of Paulo Filho) and he probably wouldíve won the DREAM Grand Prix if he hadnít been robbed against Jason High, in my opinion Woodley (along with Johny Hendricks and Ben Askren) is probably the top prospect in the world at 170lbs and so I expected him to pull off another impressive win.

Round One gets underway and Galvao opens with a nice stiff jab. Big right hand from Woodley snaps the Brazilianís head sidewards though and clearly wobbles him. T-Wood doesnít follow up though and Galvao recovers and then shoots. Easy sprawl from Woodley and he lands a quick flurry to the head before coming back up. Galvao still looks wobbly. Nice body kick from Woodley. Another left lands and Galvao drops to his back, but Woodley calls him back up. Wild overhand right misses for Galvao. He shoots again, but eats a pair of uppercuts and drops to his back. Woodley calls him back up and this time Galvao can barely stand. He shoots again, but eats some more punches and Josh Rosenthal steps in there.

Very, very impressive win for Tyron Woodley as Galvao didnít come close to taking him down and on the feet he was woefully outmatched. Woodley obviously has some power in his punches to TKO a guy from that sort of position, too. Post-fight he mentions taking a couple more fights and then wanting a title shot, but I have this horrible feeling Strike Force are going to throw him in with Diaz next. In my opinion it wouldnít be a smart move for T-Wood because heís not quite ready for that level I donít think, and the best thing for him to do would be to take other fights until his Strike Force contract is done, then jump to the UFC where the best Welterweights in the world are and where he can be built up against gatekeepers for a little longer.

-Heidi Androl interviews KJ Noons and doesnít even bring up the rivalry with Nick Diaz, instead talking mainly about how he feels about fighting a possible five rounds and how moving his camp around has helped him train. Still looks like a tool thanks to his haircut too.

Strike Force Womenís Welterweight Title: Sarah Kaufman vs Marloes Coenen

Reigning champion Kaufman Ė looking for her second title defense Ė had kicked up a bit of a stink about being stuck on a Challengers card after her title win had been dull, but she was bumped up to the main card for this show following a highlight reel slam KO in her first defense against Roxanne Modafferi in July. Not sure how Coenen ended up with a title shot given that A) she lost to Cris Cyborg in her previous fight and B) Miesha Tate won a tournament to crown a #1 contender in August, but there you go. Itís not like I really care anyway if Iím honest. Big height advantage for Coenen and man is Kaufman pale.

Round One begins and they circle and throw out some feeler strikes before Kaufman lands with a combo. They continue to trade and both women land punches before Coenen lands a hard leg kick. Neither woman really has an advantage thus far. Another good leg kick from Coenen. They clinch and Kaufman muscles Coenen into the fence and looks for the takedown. Coenen stuffs it and they muscle for position along the fence. Nice elbow to break from Coenen, but Kaufman grabs her again and weíre back to the clinch. Couple of knees land inside for Kaufman but the ref calls a break. Nice one-two from Coenen and she looks for a takedown, but Kaufman stuffs it and they muscle along the fence again. Looks like Kaufmanís trying the wall-n-stall gameplan. She tries to trip Coenen down but canít manage it, and the crowd begin to get restless with the clinch position. Referee Dan Stell calls another clean break and Coenen lands a pair of body kicks that donít really have much effect. Right hand just misses for Kaufman. Combination from Coenen ends the round. Close round but Iíd give a slight edge to Marloes Coenen, 10-9.

Round Two and they circle with Coenen looking to keep the distance and use her reach. Good one-two from Kaufman though. Into the clinch again off a Coenen combo, and they muscle for position with Coenen using a whizzer to avoid a takedown. Kaufman pins her into the fence again and they exchange some knees. If this is how Kaufman usually fights itís no wonder Showtime didnít want to showcase her. Ref breaks them off again and they trade punches with both women landing. Left hook lands for Coenen. Body kick follows but Kaufman catches it and forces her back into the cage. Sarah Kaufman: The Matt Lindland of Womenís MMA. They exchange knees inside the clinch and now the crowd begin to outright boo. One minute to go in the round and Dan Stell calls the break again. Good job. Kaufman pushes forward but canít land anything significant. Leg kick from Coenen but Kaufman closes the distance and reverses a hip throw to get top position in guard, where she postures up and rains down some solid shots to end the round, avoiding an armbar in the process. More action in the final fifteen seconds than the whole round. Youíd have to score the round for Kaufman I think based on Ďcage controlí as much as I hate that as Coenen didnít do enough to take it.

Third round and Coenen opens with a right hand. Kaufman circles around as Coenen takes the center, and then Coenen gets a clinch and hits a trip to guard. Beautiful reversal from Kaufman to reverse into Coenenís guard, but right away she gets active with her hips looking for a submission. Kaufman looks to posture up to deliver some ground-and-pound, but Coenen does a good defensive job. Good body shot from Kaufman and then she postures up with some wild punches and big hammer fists, but Coenen suddenly locks up an armbar from nowhere and gets the submission! Crowd boo randomly as I guess it looked like Kaufman didnít tap, but the replay actually shows Kaufman tapped and the ref was at a poor angle to spot it, causing an over-extended armbar that probably popped Kaufmanís arm. Ouch. Post-fight Coenen apologises for it, but I really donít think it was her fault, just one of those things.

Well, credit to Coenen for a very nice submission and really she was the aggressor throughout, but before that this fight was probably heading the way of Couture-Vera thanks to Kaufmanís clinching tactics which the judges inexplicably seem to favour over effective striking. Not the best fight to watch even by womenís standards but hopefully Coenen will be a more exciting champion than Kaufman.

-Heidi Androl catches up with Nick Diaz who admits heís been getting into fights since he was very young and he ďkeeps it realĒ. He sounds pretty much out of it to be honest, obviously in the zone ready for his fight.

-Gilbert Melendez joins the announcers and Mauro claims he could be the #1 Lightweight on the planet, and finally Gilbert outright says that he IS the #1 Lightweight. Hey, why shouldnít he believe that? Gil picks JZ to beat Thomson just because he doesnít want to fight Thomson again so soon!

Lightweight Fight: Josh Thomson vs JZ Cavalcante

To be honest, Iíd been hoping JZ would make the jump to the UFC when his DREAM contract was done, but in the end he chose the Strike Force/DREAM non-exclusive deal. Ah well. On paper this was a great fight Ė two of the most talented 155lbers in the world even if injuries have prevented them from truly living up to that potential recently, particularly JZ. With Gilbert Melendez sitting pretty at the top of Strike Forceís division and no real contenders around, this looked set to effectively be a #1 Contenderís match.

Fight gets underway and JZ pushes forward, and they exchange a couple of early strikes with both men landing. Left high kick is blocked by JZ. Hard leg kick from the Brazilian and he forces Thomson into the fence in a clinch. They exchange knees inside and JZ looks to take him down, but Thomson defends as referee Big John McCarthy gives a warning about an accidental clash of heads. They separate and Thomson lands a front kick to the chest. Thomson circles around as JZ takes the center of the cage, and a good leg kick lands for the Punk. Short right hook lands clean for JZ and drops Thomson though, forcing him to shoot out of desperation! JZ sprawls back and then secures a guillotine and pulls guard! Thomson has his arm in but the choke looks tight and JZ looks to finish, as the crowd go wild. Thomson somehow holds on despite the choke looking horribly deep, and after about a minute he manages to slip his head free to a monstrous pop. Thomson punches at the body now as JZ looks to tie him up in the guard. One minute remaining in the round and JZ goes for a triangle, then works the rubber guard, but Thomson postures out and passes the leg into half-guard. Arm triangle attempt from Thomson and that looks tight, and he passes into side mount to finish it....but the bell sounds before he can end it! Wow. Great round. JZís round for the knockdown and close choke despite Thomsonís late rally.

Round Two and the crowd sound fired up. They circle and exchange some jabs from distance before JZ closes in and forces him into the cage. They muscle for position and JZ lands a couple of knees before Thomson reverses the position. Thomson lands some knees to the legs and they continue to muscle along the fence before JZ looks to trip him down. Thomson defends well and they remain clinched, exchanging some strong knees. Takedown from Thomson and he gets the back with an over/under, no hooks though. He gets one hook in but canít get the other, and he lands some shots as JZ looks calm and keeps hold of him. Looks like Thomson might be setting up for the arm triangle if JZ turns, and again he gets one hook in but canít get the other. Some good shots land for Thomson before JZ turns and puts himself into the arm triangle, but he slips free and Thomson ends up on top in half-guard. The lack of elbow strikes in Strike Force is garbage as Thomson could smash him from here but isnít allowed to. JZ still looks calm as Thomson remains on top, then postures up to drop some punches on the bell. 10-9 Thomson so I have it even going into the third.

Third and final round begins and JZ comes out aggressively, pushing forward and avoiding a high kick. Big left kick from JZ before Thomson grabs a clinch and forces him into the cage. Thomson looks for the trip and gets a bodylock, but JZ reverses it and gets a nice takedown, ending up in half-guard as Thomson scrambles out of back mount. JZ gets full mount now and Thomson holds on desperately looking to avoid damage. Thomson tries to hip escape and gets back to half-guard, but JZ immediately looks to pass. Full butterfly guard now for Thomson and he looks to transition to the rubber guard, before pumping his fist at the camera. Probably not a good idea while heís on the bottom. JZ breaks the rubber guard and Thomson goes back to regular full guard before scrambling out to his feet. Combo lands for JZ on the way out to little effect. Takedown attempt from Thomson but JZ stuffs it and winds up on top, dropping a flurry of punches as Thomson tries to cover up. Thomson ends up in guard against the cage, and he outright tells John McCarthy to stand them up as JZ controls him. Of course that never works and they remain on the ground, JZ still on top. Thomson looks for a guillotine but canít get it, and JZ remains on top, landing punches. He stands up to drop some shots and eats an upkick before dropping back into the guard to finish with a flurry. Iíve got that 10-9 JZ and 29-28 for JZ overall.

Judges inexplicably have a unanimous decision for Josh Thomson, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. Well, thatís a shitty decision. Total robbery. I mean, how anyone could give Thomson the third round is beyond me. What did he do, pump his fist to win the round? The offending judge (Susan Thomas Gimlin) should never be involved in MMA again. As for the 29-28, well, the only reason I can think for giving Thomson the first round would be the fact that he was on top for a while and finished the round with a close submission, and I guess you could argue that if the round had another thirty seconds JZ mightíve gone out. We donít know that though and JZ also had a close submission attempt as well as a knockdown! Just more fuel to the fire to suggest that judging in the US needs a major overhaul Ė in my opinion the system is fine, itís just the ignorance of the judges that is the problem. Post-fight Thomson himself admits the 30-27 score was bizarre, and shit, if the winning fighter is willing to admit that, you know thereís a problem. Outside of the decision though, this was an excellent, competitive fight between two well-matched fighters who would probably be considered much higher in the rankings if A) they stopped getting injured and B) fought in the UFC with the other top fighters in the world. Tremendous stuff.

-Heidi Androl is joined by Dan Henderson and Babalu to discuss their rematch which is apparently ďten years in the makingĒ. Shit, I typed that with sarcasm but it IS ten years since they fought. Amazing how time flies. Henderson says heís looking forward to being at 205lbs again so he doesnít have to skip meals, then says theyíre both different fighters this time around. Babalu thanks the fans for supporting the sport and says he called Henderson out because, well, he gives a reason but Iíll be damned if I can understand it. I like Henderson to win that fight, by the way.

Strike Force Welterweight Title: Nick Diaz vs KJ Noons

Hard to believe itís over three years since Noons managed to beat Diaz in Elite XC to begin their rivalry, but there you go. I was surprised Strike Force didnít try to make more of the whole issue with the two including the brawl when the Diaz brothers got involved with Noons and his father, but I guess after the Nashville Incident they probably want to avoid such things, which is understandable. Despite Noons not really having earned a title shot, the Strike Force 170lbs division is so sparse that I didnít really mind, as this was a chance for Nick to avenge his only recent loss. I figured heíd be able to do it based on the fact that the original fight had been at 160lbs where Diaz is drawn-out, and that heíd probably look to take the fight to the ground this time rather than just stand with the boxer.
Crowd wildly boo Noons upon his entrance. Hey, Iím with San Jose, the guy is a smug prick. Well, Iíve never met him but thatís how he comes off on TV. Big pop for Diaz as heís practically the hometown boy. Heís accompanied by brother Nate Ė sporting a UFC baseball cap right on TV. Word!

Opening round begins and Diaz opens with a leg kick and a jab. Right hand from Diaz and he begins to taunt Noons right away. Noons looking to jab the body. Another leg kick lands for Diaz. Beautiful one-two catches Noons clean and snaps his head back, and Diaz manages to avoid the return. Left hook lands for Noons but Diaz fires back with a short right hook that buckles his legs and drops him! Diaz immediately gets on top in side mount and Noons looks in trouble. Shoulder strikes from Diaz as the crowd chant his name, but surprisingly he doesnít really go for anything right away. Good scramble from Noons and he fights his way to his feet, only for Diaz to taunt him. Winging right hook lands for Diaz as Noons swings back at him. Peppering punches from Diaz and he doesnít look out of his depth striking with Noons at all. Noons needs a haircut as heís continually fiddling with it to push the fringe out of his eyes. Jab lands for the challenger. They clinch for a moment and then break off. Right hand from Diaz but a pair of hard body shots from Noons fire back. They exchange jabs, then Diaz dances around taunting him to end the round. Good round for Nick Diaz, 10-9.

2nd round and Noons pushes forward as Diaz looks to keep the distance with a pair of kicks. Good combo from Noons, right to the body and a left hook and Diaz is cut. Odd moment follows as both men taunt one another with their hands down. Noons pushes again with punches and they exchange, but it looks like KJ;s taking over now and Diaz is bleeding like a stuck pig. Takedown attempt from Diaz misses by a mile. Hard left hook lands for Noons and he follows by going to the body as Diaz tries to work the jab. Right hand lands for Diaz. Couple of leg kicks land for Nick as Noons continues to throw combos. Lunging knee to the body lands for Noons. Great left hook to the body follows. Diaz answers back with a right to the body. Right hand catches Diaz on the temple. More of the same follows and Noons has Diaz backing up now. Knee to the body lands for the challenger. Combos from both men land and Diaz just canít get a clinch. Round ends with Noons continuing to press forward. Got to be Noonsí round so itís 19-19 going into the third.

Third round and the cut looks to have been closed up nicely by Diazís corner. Single leg from Diaz is easily stuffed. Noons goes back to the body with punches. Good right hand from Diaz and he follows with a sharp left to the body. Noons comes forward with punches again and both men land, but Diaz gets the better of the exchange this time. Good stiff jab lands for Noons though. Wild swing misses for the challenger. Jabs land for both men. Good leg kick from Diaz. Diaz juts out his chin now to taunt KJ and follows with a combination. Good jabs from Diaz. Left hand answers for Noons. This is a very close round. Looks like Noons might have a bloody nose. Clinch from Diaz is quickly broken. More jabs exchanged from both. I think Diaz is slightly outlanding Noons now. Seconds remaining and Diaz ends the round with a couple of kicks. 10-9 Diaz just about I think, though it couldíve gone either way. Into championship territory now.

Round Four and they exchange leg kicks to begin. Couple of ax-kicks miss for Diaz. Good right to the body from Diaz and he follows with a stiff jab. Nice left uppercut from Noons avoids a plum clinch. Couple of kicks land for Diaz to keep the distance. Noons trying to throw combinations but heís not looking as effective as he did earlier. Body punches break another attempt at the plum clinch from Diaz. Good combination from Diaz, answered by a heavy left hook from Noons. Beautiful three-punch combo lands for the champion. Big left hook lands for Noons but Diaz no-sells it and answers with a series of jabs that snap KJís head back. Diaz is winning on volume at the minute. Noons chops at the body again and Diaz follows by getting the plum clinch to land a knee before KJ breaks. Uppercut lands clean for Noons but Diaz somehow takes it. Combo from Noons but Diaz counters with a flurry and a big knee that puts Noons on the back foot. Crowd chanting wildly for Diaz. Couple of wild kicks miss for Diaz but heís winning this fight. Seconds to go and Diaz looks for the plum clinch again, but canít get it and thatís the round. 10-9 Diaz and this is his fight to lose now I think.

Fifth and final round! Noons comes out swinging and Diaz looks for a takedown, but the challenger scrambles away from him. Good left to the body from Diaz as weíre back to boxing. Combo from Diaz but Noons ducks down to avoid the brunt of it. Plum clinch from Diaz and this time he lands a flurry of right hands. Both men continue to swing but Diaz is landing the better shots. Takedown attempt from Diaz but again Noons easily stuffs it. Good left uppercut and a short right hook from Diaz. Diaz is landing like three clean punches to every one clean from Noons at this stage. Noons is pushing forward but I think he needs to attack more if he wants to win this. Spinning back kick is easily avoided by the challenger. Big uppercut lands for Noons but Diaz eats it right up. One minute to go. Into the clinch and they exchange some short punches before breaking. Both men swing wildly with seconds remaining but Noons canít seem to catch the champion and thatís the fight. Iíve got this 49-46 for Diaz, but I could see 48-47 too. Either way I think itís Diazís fight.

Compustrike graphic claims Noons actually outlanded Diaz, but that turned out to be a botch with the system and Diaz did land more shots. Judges have it 48-47, 49-47 and 49-46, for Nick Diaz to retain the title. Closer fight than I expected, though. I think if anything this showed the shortcomings in Diazís game as due to his shoddy wrestling he wasnít able to take a dangerous striker down, where he probably wouldíve finished him. Noons is an excellent striker, but heís one-dimensional and can you imagine GSP or Koscheck or even someone like Jake Ellenberger being forced to stand with him for five rounds? I love Diazís style, donít get me wrong, but thatís why itís wild to have him in the top five at WW as some people do as I donít think heíd beat GSP, Fitch, Koscheck, Shields or Alves, and I think heíd struggle to get past a Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann or Paul Daley too. Post-fight Diaz claims he stood with KJ to prove that he could beat him standing, but I think thatís questionable. Really fun fight overall Ė too one-dimensional to be considered a classic like Mauro keeps claiming, but it was certainly fun to watch and one of the best boxing-based fights I can recall in MMA.

-Announcers wrap up the nightís action and all three of them seem to want Diaz-Noons 3 which I think is insane myself. Must add that the announcing was far, far better minus the clueless Gus Johnson and Mauro particularly did a good job as he was back in his best play-by-play role as opposed to Mr. Clichť when Johnsonís idiotic nonsense is the play-by-play. Show ends there.

Final Thoughts....

As far as a four-fight show goes this was pretty damn good. We got an excellent fight between Thomson and Cavalcante although the bad judging sort of took away from that, a very good if one-dimensional main event, and while Woodleyís KO wasnít highlight material it did showcase one of the best up and coming talents in the world at 170lbs. Womenís fight was dull in parts but Iíd rather see that than a silly one-sided Cyborg massacre, so Iím giving this a thumbs up as one of the better Strike Force shows of 2010.

Best Fight: Thomson-Cavalcante
Worst Fight: Kaufman-Coenen

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 116-119, Versus 2, Fight Night 22
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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