The new-look Strikeforce made its live debut tonight with "Shamrock vs. Diaz" on the premium cable network Showtime from its favorite stomping grounds, the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The event marked the dawn of a new era for the promotion following the purchase of select ProElite assets earlier this year.
Here's how it all went down.
In the main event, the Cesar Gracie-trained jiu-jitsu black belt Nick Diaz avenged his mentor's knockout loss to Frank Shamrock by defeating "The Legend" with a second round technical knockout via strikes.
There was plenty of smack talk leading up to and during the fight. Diaz taunted Shamrock throughout the entire affair, talking to him and waving his hands in the air. But afterwards a suddenly classy and respectful Diaz helped his beaten foe to his feet, even raising his hand in admiration.
Diaz had moved up in weight to take this bout at a catchweight of 179 pounds, but he clearly had the size advantage inside the cage. In the end, it was the length and reach advantage that Shamrock had no answer for.
After such a dominating performance (and the fact that Cung Le only fights once every two years), Nick Diaz may now be the new face of Strikeforce after usurping the throne from the aging Shamrock.
In the evening's first contest, former EliteXC heavyweight standout Brett Rogers remained undefeated with a second round technical knockout win over BET's "Iron Ring" reality contestant Ron Humphrey in a fairly one-sided beatdown.
"The Grim" was taken past the first round for the first time in his career by a resilient Humphrey, but he still might have registered his most impressive performance to date as a professional fighter. Instead of his usual all out power style, Rogers showed a technical side to his striking that we haven't seen from him before.
And his takedown defense was solid as well.
Clearly the time away from action (and all those spare tires at Sam's Club) have done him some good. He's a very dangerous heavyweight for Strikeforce. Perhaps a match with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, who was in attendance, is on the horizon?
Up next was the lone female fight on the card. Brazilian powerhouse Cristiane Santos, who came into the fight well over the 145 pound weight limit, dominated her Japanese opponent. "Cyborg" ended up scoring a third round knockout victory over a very tough, yet outmatched Hitomi Akano.
Gina Carano was cage side and getting plenty of camera time as well. Strikeforce did a nice job with the foreshadowing -- hopefully we're not too far off from our chance to finally see those two get it on (so to speak).
Scott Smith was part of a show-stealing fight once again as he and Benji Radach engaged in an all out war in which both fighters seemed to be on the edge of defeat more than once. In the end it was "Hands of Steel," more than likely behind on the scorecards going into the final round, who finally brought an end to the epic battle by knocking "Razor" out with a late overhand right.
It was truly a fight for the ages.
Rodrigo Damm stepped in for an injured lightweight champion Josh "The Punk" Thomson on less than two weeks notice to face ex-champ Gilbert Melendez -- and found out why that's usually not such a good idea.
The replacement fighter spent the majority of the first round on his back, eating violent strikes to the head and body and it wasn't long into the second round before he was overwhelmed by a storming "El Nino."
The Gracie jiu-jitsu purple belt was crowned the interim Strikeforce lightweight champion with the win, but he was having none of that, making sure after the match that everyone knew Josh Thomson was still the real champ.
Here are the full results for Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs. Diaz":
Nick Diaz defeats Frank Shamrock via technical knockout (strikes) at 3:57 of round two
Gilbert Melendez defeats Rodrigo Damm via knockout (punch) at 2:02 of round two
Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith defeats Benji "Razor" Radach via knockout (punch) at 3:24 of round three
Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos defeats Hitomi Akano via knockout (strikes) at 0:35 of round three
Brett "The Grim" Rogers defeats Ron "Abongo" Humphrey via technical knockout (strikes) at 1:38 of round two
Luke Rockhold via Buck Meredith via submission (side choke) at 4:07 of round one
Eric Lawson defeats Waylon Kennel via technical knockout (strikes) at 4:54 of round one
Raul Castillo defeats Brandon Michaels via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:45 of round one
James Terry defeats Zak Bucia via unanimous decision
Shingo Kohara defeats Jeremy Tavares via knockout (knee) at 0:04 of round two
Up next for the San Jose-based organization is a trip to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 6 for an absolute blockbuster of an event featuring a middleweight match up between former EliteXC champions Jake Shields and "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler.
In the meantime, the promotion will roll out it's "Challenger Series" on Showtime at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., on May 15. Hawaiian Mike Aina will challenge undefeated five fight Strikeforce veteran Billy Evangelista in the main event. Kim Couture will also be in action against Miesha Tate.