Strikeforce is all set to return home to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California this Saturday night (Oct. 9) with the highly anticpated "Diaz vs. Noons II" event.
The four-fight main card will air live on Showtime beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Noons II," beginning with the Showtime telecast at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card action much earlier on fight night.
In a rematch of bitter rivals, welterweight champion Nick Diaz will look to avenge the last loss of his career when he steps into the cage opposite hard-hitting challenger K.J. Noons. Female welterweight champion Sarah Kaufman will also defend her title in the co-main event against Dutch submissions specialist Marloes Coenen.
Former lightweight champion Josh "The Punk" Thomson, American Top Team standout "JZ" Cavalcante and other Strikeforce stars are also booked for the card.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities I've given some quick analysis and predictions for the four main card fights set to his the Showtime airwaves on Saturday night. Check it out below.
170 lbs.: Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons
I think the fact that this is a five round fight is sort of irrelevant. I don't see this thing making it into the championship rounds. Noons doesn't have the gas tank to last that long with Diaz.
There's also no denying that Diaz's hands have improved since their first fight, and I believe his frustrating boxing style can be effective up against Noons' power punching.
But it would be naive to think that Noons doesn't have the ability to knock Diaz out in this fight. It's hard to imagine Diaz being stopped with punches, but the same was also said about Gurgel and we all know how that one ended. Besides, Noons has already stopped Diaz once. I have no doubts that he can do it again.
But I don't think he will.
He's going to try and take Diaz's head off with counter punches, but the thing that makes Diaz's sytle so effective is that his hands and feet are constantly coming forward, but he keeps his head back and out of harm's way. Every time KJ whiffs on one of those big punches, he's going to eat two or three more straights or hooks from Diaz.
I also question KJ's cardio. And when he gets tired that's when he really just starts winging bombs. That's only going to open things up even more for the Cesar Gracie pupil.
I really like Diaz in this fight. I believe him when he says the motivation wasn't there for their first fight, but there's no question that he'll be up for the rematch. And a motivated Nick Diaz is a scary thing, especially for a guy fighting as a welterweight for the first time in his career.
A fresh KJ Noons is nearly impossible to take down, and it's going to take some wearing down before Diaz really starts to separate himself in this fight. But sometime in the second or third round, Noons will be breathing heavy and a fresh Diaz will still be right there in his face. That's when Nick will hurt him and then finish him off with some type of choke.
Final prediction: Diaz via submission
135 lbs.: Sarah Kaufman vs. Marloes Coenen
I'm a Sarah Kaufman fan. She improves with every fight, and her brawling style is fun to watch. But I think Coenen is going to take her belt in this fight.
We know Coenen can take a good amount of punishment from the "Cyborg" fight, and we know she's coming down in weight and will have a size and length advantage. We also know that her ground game is top notch, and if she can get the champ to the mat, she'll be the better fighter.
The thing that has carried Kaufman is her takedown defense. Nobody has really been able to take her down and keep her there. She deserves a lot of credit for that because she's clearly been working on it and improving, but eventually her ground game is going to get tested. It's the nature of the sport.
For her sake, it better not be this fight, because Coenen can and will submit her if she gets a chance to.
Coenen is an aggressive fighter in all areas, though, and her reach advantage on the feet could be an issue for the champ, too. Kaufman is super-dangerous on her feet, but if she has trouble getting inside on the longer challenger, then this could turn into a very frustrating fight for her.
I like Coenen to out-work Kaufman for a decision victory, but I also think it's very possible she finishes this fight with some type of submission. Either way, I'm going with the upset here.
Final prediction: Marloes Coenen via decision
155 lbs.: Gesias Cavalcante vs. Josh Thomson
"JZ" hasn't been all that active over the last couple of years, and he looked somewhat rusty in his return fight against Kikuno at DREAM 15. He overcame a slow start to pull out a close decision in that fight, though, and maybe a test like that is exactly what he needed to get back into the swing of things.
Thomson didn't look great in his last fight, either. An early rib injury slowed him down against Pat Healy at "Fedor vs. Werdum," but he battled back and scored an impressive late submission win.
Both guys are very well rounded, and they usually come to fight and go hard for fifteen minutes. It's going to be interesting to see what kind of strategy each guy tries to use. They are pretty much evenly matched.
I do think "JZ" is the more talented all around fighter, though, and I think he wins this match-up six or seven times out of ten. He's better on the ground and he's just as good on his feet, with more power.
I can see a scenario in which Thomson comes with his kickboxing A-game and out-strikes "JZ" with his speed and length, but that's only if "JZ" comes out sluggish and rusty and lets that happen.
If both guys are at the top of their game, then this is going to be a great fight. For me, it's about which "JZ" shows up. If we get the K-1 "JZ" then it's on like donkey kong, but if we get the DREAM "JZ" then he might end up on the wrong end of another close decision.
Here's to hoping it's the former.
Final prediction: Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante via decision
170 lbs.: Tyron Woodley vs. Andre Galvao
In a match-up like this with a strong wrestler and a strong jiu jitsu guy, I usually like to lean towards the wrestler, especially when it's one who is as freakishly athletic and explosive as Tyron Woodley. That's not to say Galvao is some slouch of an athlete. He's a stud himself, but I've just been super impressed with Woodley since joining Strikeforce.
However, "T-Wood" wasn't his usual impressive self in his last fight on the Challengers 8 card, and he barely escaped with a split decision win over Nathan Coy.
Before that fight he had only been taken out of the first round once in his career, and he had never gone the distance. His cardio was exposed a little bit, as he clearly tired late in that fight, and he also had some trouble defending knees in the clinch, which is a strength of Galvao's.
The good news for him is that he still had success with takedowns and he looked fantastic on the ground as usual. And what he loses on the ground to Galvao in technique, he should more than makes up for in strength and explosiveness. He's not going to submit Galvao, but I think he can certainly be effective with the judges from the top position without getting tapped out himself.
I'm sure he'll try to keep the fight standing for as long as he can, though. I think he's better on his feet than the Brazilian, and he definitely has more power in his hands. If he's having success there, this fight may never even get to the mat.
Either way, I like Woodley to out-work Galvao for a decision victory.
Final prediction: Tyron Woodley via decision
That's a wrap. Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below.