With two world titles on the line and an ambitious heavyweight tournament on the horizon, Strikeforce needed to build some momentum with "Diaz vs. Cyborg" from its hometown of San Jose, California.
Consider it done.
Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz closed the doors at the HP Pavilion in style with a stunning submission finish via armbar over hard-hitting Brazilian brawler Evangelista Santos in the closing moments of the second round.
The Chute Boxe Academy challenger gave the champion all he could handle through the first nine minutes of the fight. "Cyborg" brutalized the Cesar Gracie pupil with leg kicks and combinations that would put any normal human being on queer street.
What, you thought Diaz was normal?
The kid from Stockton nearly took care of business in the opening frame when he appeared to have Santos gassed out and backpedaling. But the Brazilian came out refreshed and possessed to start the second.
However, Nick did what he does best by standing tough and continuing to walk forward and work his trademark boxing. He took every bit of punishment that "Cyborg" could dish out, and he just kept coming forward.
Santos scored with a takedown late in what appeared to be an attempt to secure the round on the judges scorecards. Diaz, a crafty jiu-jitsu black belt, quickly wrapped him up and locked in the fight ending armbar.
Were you watching, Fernando Vargas? How about you, Paul Daley?
Company middleweight title holder Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza was also successful in defending his strap, but not before the challenger, "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler, nearly took his head off.
"Jacare," not exactly known for his boxing game, managed to recover from the early onslaught and that marked the end of the Brazilian taking chances exchanging punches with the powerful striker.
It also marked the beginning of jiu-jitsu 101 and class was officially in session.
Lawler spent the majority of the second round on his back, visibly frustrated at his lack of ability to get back to his feet. The third stanza came and once again, he couldn't stop the champ from repeatedly putting him right back on his ass.
That's not to say the H.I.T. Squad member wasn't a game opponent. He avoided multiple submissions including a couple of oh-so-slick armbar attempts and a standing guillotine.
Eventually though, the truth will always win out and his "Ruthless" attack just wasn't enough.
Now that he has successfully defended his title, "Jacare" is firmly entrenched as the Strikeforce middleweight champion. He says he's ready for any challenger the promotion puts in front of him and he wants to get back to work as soon as possible.
Got anyone in mind?
Former Heisman Trophy winner and current American Kickboxing Academy trainee Herschel Walker scored his second career mixed martial arts victory with a first round drubbing of Scott Carson in a battle of aging athletes.
The 48 year old Walker dominated the 40 year old Carson from the opening bell, securing a takedown and then pounding his way to a quick victory in just over three minutes of work.
Say what you want about the football great making the transition to MMA at such an advanced age, but he's a ferocious competitor and I certainly wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley. He came out and did exactly what he needed to do to win. Not only that he made it entertaining.
Scott Carson may not represent the greatest competition in the world, but anything can (and often does) happen in MMA. A win is a win, and Herschel Walker, if you can believe it, is now 2-0.
To hell with a return to the gridiron, how about one more trip to the cage?
Roger Gracie continued to live up to the reputation that comes with such having such a famous last name by notching his fourth win via submission in just as many pro fights.
South African wrestling champion Trevor Prangley did all he could to avoid going to the mat with the decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, but Gracie barely broke a sweat dragging the veteran down and quickly finishing him off.
Gracie has now defeated Kevin Randleman, Yuki Kondo, Ron Waterman, and the aforementioned Prangley in his four pro fights -- all credible victories. He says he wants to be focus exclusively on MMA from here on out.
The Strikeforce light heavyweight division has officially been put on notice.
With a pedigree like no other and a ground game that's nearly impossible to match, he has all the tools to be the next great champion in the sport. Here's to hoping he dedicates himself to making a run at it.
In undercard action, welterweight up and comer Nate Moore defeated Nathan Coy via knockout with a stunning combination of punches just seconds into the second round of their bout to improve his overall record to 7-2.
That's all from "Shark City."
Next up for the promotion is "Fedor vs. Silva" on Feb. 12 from the IZOD Center in E. Rutherford, New Jersey, which will feature the start of the highly anticipated 2011 heavyweight grand prix tournament. The event is set to air live on Showtime.
Half of the eight-man first round will be decided on the card with Fedor Emelianenko battling Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski locking horns with Sergei Kharitonov. An alternate bout between Lavarr "Big" Johnson and Shane Del Rosario will also take place on the main card.
We'll have all the coverage you can handle for that event right here on MMAmania.com so stay tuned.
Until then, sound off with your thoughts on all the action from "Diaz vs. Cyborg."