Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Noons II" went down earlier tonight from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, and company welterweight champion Nick Diaz finally got his chance to avenge a controversial loss to the former Elite XC lightweight title holder, KJ Noons, from nearly three years ago.
And that's exactly what he did.
The Cesar Gracie black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu elected to get his revenge by standing and trading with the ex-pro boxer, which wouldn't seem like a good idea from the outside looking in, especially considering the results of their first encounter.
But the champion showed that his hands have improved by leaps and bounds since that fight, and he proved that he can stand with just about anybody by out-boxing Noons en route to a unanimous decision victory in what proved to be one hell of a fight.
The stats afterward showed that it was Noons who was the busier fighter, throwing and landing over a hundred more strikes than Diaz, not to mention stuffing four takedown attempts. But Diaz still came away with the decision after dropping Noons early and then pushing the pace and standing toe to toe with one of the top strikers in the business for five full rounds.
It was an absolute great fight, and the hard fought battle seemed to settle the bad blood between the two, as they embraced afterward and spoke respectfully of each other. But even with that being so, I have no doubt in my mind that we haven't seen the last of these two punching each other in the face.
At least I hope not.
In the co-main event, former K-1 Hero's standout Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante made his promotional debut opposite one-time division champion Josh Thomson. The fight lived up to lofty expectations, as both fighters laid it on the line and produced a fantastic back and forth war of attrition.
Things didn't end up quite as planned for the American Top Team trainee, though, as "The Punk" came out on top with a unanimous decision win. But "JZ" has no reason to hang his head. The Brazilian came out strong and finished even stronger.
I thought he did enough to win the decision, but it was certainly close enough to go either way. How one of the judges scored the fight 30-27 for Thomson is beyond me, though.
The first round was a toss up. "JZ" dropped Thomson early and then worked on a guillotine choke for most of the round before Thomson turned the tables for the last minute and almost finished the fight himself with an arm triangle before Cavalcante was saved by the bell.
The second frame was all Thomson as he controlled most of the fight on the ground. But the AKA product spent most of the third round on his back being controlled by "JZ." It was a very good fight that could have gone either way, but it really bothers me that one of the judges scored that last round for Thomson. I'd love to hear the explanation behind that awful bit of judging.
Regardless, it was a big win for Thomson, and Diaz vs. Noons may not be the only trilogy on the table for a future Strikeforce event. We may be seeing Melendez vs. Thomson III very soon as well. I have no complaints about that.
Female welterweight champion Sarah Kaufman was also in action, putting her title on the line for the second time since capturing the gold earlier this year. Dutch submission specialist Marloes Coenen stepped in as the number one contender, making her debut at 135 pounds, and she made it a memorable one, stopping the Canadian midway through the third round with a beautiful armbar submission.
Kaufman had a hard time with the challenger's length in the early going and likely dropped the first round on the cards after being out-struck for the majority of the first five minutes. She came back strong in round two, however, and ended the round with some vicious ground and pound.
The third round appeared to be going the same way after Coenen ended up on her back early on with Kaufman on top of her raining down punches. "Rumina" defended the onslaught well, though, and when Kaufman's aggression reached a boiling point, Coenen turned the tides and found an opening for the armbar to steal the title.
Meisha Tate was sitting cageside, and after winning the one-night, four-women tournament earlier this year at Challengers 10, she earned her spot opposite the Dutch damsel as the next top contender.
Coenen left her with four words: "Let's get it on."
In a classic jiu jitsu versus wrestling match-up, world renowned BJJ black belt Andre Galvao and two-time All-American wrestler Tyron Woodley locked horns in what looked like an intriguing welterweight contest on paper.
It didn't turn out to be much of a fight, though.
Galvao came out looking for takedowns, but Woodley was more than ready for that attack, as he stuffed each of the Brazilian's shots and then made him pay with well placed precision punches. Galvao looked sluggish from the start, and Woodley basically walked right through him.
"T-Wood" rocked him early with straight punches and then finished him off in less than two minutes of work with more of the same. Afterward he talked about his future title aspirations, and by the way he dominated tonight, he may not be too far away from making that a reality.
That's a wrap from the "Golden State."
Next up for the San Jose based organization is Challengers 11 on October 22 from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. A dynamite rematch in the welterweight division between Roger Bowling and Bobby Voelker is set to headline the event. Billy Evangelista, Lavar Johnson and others are slated for the card as well.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more coverage on that developing fight card and all other Strikeforce related news.