Strikeforce: Shamrock vs Diaz came to us all live on April 11, 2009, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Yep, we're talking about Strikeforce and Scott Coker's usual stomping grounds. Years ago, Frank Shamrock took out Nick Diaz's coach Cesar Gracie with a lightning fast first round knockout. Would he do the same in the main event of the evening against Diaz, Gracie's star pupil?
Only one way to find out.
"I'm always going to have an aggressive fight and put my hand on the person and just try to get in and get out," said Brett Rogers before taking on Abongo Humphrey. Both of these fighters were undefeated coming in. The question was, which one would still be undefeated coming out of the cage?
The fight started with an active Humphrey hitting home with a low kick and later a side kick while pushing off of the cage. Humphrey then threw off a forward moving Rogers. Rogers connected with a left hand. Humphrey shirked a takedown attempt after connecting with a low kick. While in the clinch, the two traded with Rogers getting the better of things. In fact, every time the two ended up in the clinch from there forward, Rogers connected nicely. The problem was that he kept grabbing his opponent's considerable hair (seemed inadvertent), which led to him losing a point. Despite Rogers hitting home with hard knees and punches toward the end of the round, the point likely made the round even.
The second round saw Rogers come out aggressively. Along with this, he landed several huge knees inside and big punches. The cumulative effect of these strikes eventually put Humphrey on the canvas for good.
Great performance by Brett Rogers. The pace of the fight was awesome for a heavyweight encounter, and Rogers showed that he has heart on top of the power he's always shown.
Brett Rogers win by way of knockout at 1:38 of the second round.
"I want to finish the fight as soon as possible," said Cris "Cyborg" Santos before taking on Hitomi Akano. Of course, Santos came into this fight several pounds overweight (seven, to be exact). The disrespect was so bad that Akano almost walked away from the fight before Strikeforce officials were able to convince her to move forward with it. Would Akano regret her decision to take the fight?
Cyborg connected with several strikes early on and then threw Akano to the ground hard. Though Akano looked for the early armbar, Cyborg escaped quickly and started in with the ground and pound. Eventually, Cyborg walked away, allowing Akano up.
After landing a hard right, Cyborg once again threw her opponent to the ground forcefully. The round ended with Cyborg throwing shots on their feet and Akano covering up.
So far this is a big time mismatch, particularly when it comes to size and power.
The second round saw Cyborg stalk her opponent, picking her apart with masterful kicks and punches along the way. Eventually, Akano attempted a flying armbar that only served to get her a hard punch to the face and Cyborg on top of her on the canvas. The round ended with ground and pound being served up by Cyborg.
This fight is making me think that they need to find bigger fighters for Cyborg to fight. Akano is tough; she's just too small.
The third round started off with some vicious right hands by Cyborg. It ended with those, by the way, as well.
Cris "Cyborg" Santos wins by TKO at 35 seconds of round three.
"He likes to slug; I like to slug. Someone's getting knocked out. . . Benji Radach's gonna KO Scott Smith," said Radach coming into the next fight against Scott Smith. Here's a hint: That first part of his statement was accurate. But the second part?
Radach started things off connecting with two jabs and a right hand. From there, he began picking his shots well, moving in and out on his opponent, even if many of his punches often missed. The two traded some low kicks over the course of time. Both guys were clearly hesitant to engage too aggressively, knowing that it only takes one punch to end things. Around the 2:40 mark, Smith connected with a hard right hand and began attacking when it seemed to hurt his opponent. Radach recovered and started moving in and out with his striking again effectively. A Radach flurry followed by a big left hand dropped Smith. Eventually, the action slowed until Radach took his adversary down and initiated some hard ground and pound before the bell.
Excellent round. Give it to Radach.
Smith came forward aggressively at the outset of the second round, only to end up clinched with his opponent. They were separated, and then Radach started moving in and out with his strikes again. Smith was then hurt by a Radach left and dropped by a right. He got up and was almost caught in a standing guillotine for his efforts. From there, Smith looked for a single leg which allowed him to gain some composure. The two were eventually separated by the referee. Radach did not come forward aggressively at this point, instead choosing to connect with some hard jabs and punches from a distance until the bell.
Did he show Smith too much respect when he was hurt?
Regardless, it was another great round. Though most were clearly excited, a few people were actually booing. They should make a rule; if you boo a fight like this at any point, you have to leave immediately.
Radach once again started picking his shots at the beginning of the third round. But then Smith connected with a hard left and followed it up with a standing guillotine attempt of his own. For his efforts, he found himself up in the air and taken down hard by Radach. Some mild ground and pound was followed by the referee standing the two up for a lack of action.
Smith, perhaps sensing that he was losing the fight, became aggressive with his strikes. Then came a huge right hand that dropped his opponent upon impact. And that was that.
An amazing 'Fight of the Year' kind of candidate. Scott Smith once again has come through under terrible adversity with a stunning knockout.
Scott Smith wins by way of KO at 3:24 of round three.
"I'm sure both of us are going to put on a very good fight," said Rodrigo Damm coming into his bout with former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Gilbert Melendez. Of course, Melendez was hoping to get things back on a winning track after losing his belt to Josh Thomson, who was supposed to fight him in a rematch here until an injury killed those plans.
Coming in, Melendez looked bigger than he has in the past.
Early on, Melendez stalked his opponent before catching a Damm kick and connecting with a hard right that put his adversary on the ground. From there came the ground and pound, which picked up as the round went on. In fact, that was the story on the entire stanza: Melendez connecting with ground and pound.
The second stanza saw Damm connect with some jabs and then shirk a takedown attempt by his opponent. Another takedown attempt by Melendez worked, but was only short lived as Damm got up.
Perhaps he should've stayed down, as moments later a hard left-right combination by Melendez floored him. A strike on the ground later and that was all she wrote.
Gilbert Melendez gets back on the winning track via KO at 2:02 of round two.
Then came the main event of the evening: Frank Shamrock vs. Nick Diaz. Let's put it this way- both of these fighters know how to hype an event. Along with this, before the event Diaz said, "I'm like Frank Shamrock with better boxing and jiu jitsu."
Enough said. Let's get it on.
Early on, Diaz connected with a low kick. Then Shamrock hit home with a body kick and body punch. When he went for another body kick, Diaz caught it and took him down. He then moved to side control. But eventually, Shamrock turned him over and got to his feet, connecting with two nice punches along the way.
That said, from there Diaz began picking him apart with punches at a distance. Despite Diaz coming up in weight, he looks much bigger than Shamrock, and not just via his height. Diaz took Shamrock down again by catching another body kick and eventually moved to the mount position. Then came a serious amount of strikes from that position before Shamrock escaped at the bell.
So far, Diaz is beating his adversary badly.
The second round saw Diaz connecting from all angles on Shamrock. The cumulative wear from those punches was obvious. Eventually, a hard body punch dropped his adversary. From there came several punches on the ground until the referee stepped in.
Nick Diaz wins by way of TKO at 3:57 of round two.
In the end, Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz was a good night of fights. Scott Smith once again proved that he was the master of knockouts when you least expect it, Gilbert Melendez got back on a winning track, Brett Rogers was impressive once again, and Cyborg proved that she is still the only viable challenge to Gina Carano that we get to see on a regular basis. But in the end, the night was about Nick Diaz. The bottom line is that his boxing skills are strong, he's still as tough a fighter as they come, and he's bigger than many, including this writer, gave him credit for.