With a 4 fight card scheduled for Saturday night from San Jose this is Strikeforce’s one big chance to impress in the very busy month of October. In a few weeks they have a decent Challengers card but this is their crown jewel for a while. As far as storylines go we have the rematch between Nick Diaz and K.J. Noons, this time in the welterweight division and for the Strikeforce title. Their last go round was such a spectacle that it alone is enough to drive interest in this match alone. Noons has been one of the most exciting fighters to watch this year despite claims that he isn’t the most sportsmanlike guy out there. In the co-man event we have Sarah Kaufman making, after begging and pleading, her main show debut after slumming it on the Challengers cards up until this point. She faces former Cyborg victim Marlos Coenen and the question is whether Kaufman can withstand the pressure of competing alongside the big boys.
Andre Galvao vs. Tyrone Woodley
Going into this fight we have every reason to believe that it will be won and/or lost on the mat. Woodley is a former All American collegiate wrestler while Galvao has a World Jiu Jitsu Championship on his resume. Both are up and coming prospects who have stellar records and tons of upside. To me the fight is going to come down to Woodley’s superior gas tank and his ability to overpower Galvao on the mat or in the clinch. That hardly means, however, that I foresee Woodley stopping Galvao because I don’t. I do see him avoiding Galvao’s dangerous submission attempts and winning this match on the scorecards.
Pick: Woodley via decision
Gesias Cavalcante vs. Josh Thomson
There have been murmurs that this is being viewed by the Strikeforce bigwigs as a title eliminator. It makes no difference really as Strikeforce’s long history with questionable booking proves that they will book whatever title fight they, promises be damned. Here we find another evenly matched fight between a BJJ guy and a wrestler. Both have suffered through injuries for most of their career and if indeed a victory here leads to a title shot against Gilbert Melendez then it may be a last hurrah for that person. On paper I would assume that Thomson is the favorite but my guy instinct tells me something different. Yes, he won his last match out against Pat Healey but looked sloppy in doing so. Cavalcante also looked less than brilliant in his last win at DREAM.15 but he could write that off as ring rust. He’s still an animal in the cage and his BJJ is still deadly. I don’t have a ton of confidence in this pick but am going with Cavalcante despite myself.
Pick: Cavalcante via 2nd round submission
Sarah Kaufman vs. Marlos Coenen for Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Title
Well if losing your last match in one weight class doesn’t qualify you to challenge for the title in another I don’t know what does. Such is the case with Marlos Coenen who got TKO’d by Cristiane Cyborg back in January and now is the #1 contender for undefeated Kaufman’s belt. She comes into this fight just as she did her last one, a huge underdog. Kaufman has thus far dominated every one of her opponents, using boxing to score points against Takayo Hashi and the greatest MMA powerbomb you’ve ever see to finish Roxanne Modafferi. She stuffs takedowns better than most anyone and has an uncanny ability to dominate the ground game. But again I smell upset as Coenen also works magic on the ground and the sheer size and strength difference between this opponent and her last is an important intangible. Kaufman is great for Strikeforce and women’s MMA in general but I feel her current reign is about to come to a close.
Pick: Coenen via 3rd Round submission
Nick Diaz vs. K.J. Noons for the Strikeforce Welterweight Title
One thing is for certain heading into the main event and that is Nick Diaz will have no interest in boxing with K.J. Noons which is a damn shame because a replay of their EliteXC bloodbath will almost definitely be more entertaining than what is in store for us tomorrow night. Noons has been busy this year as this will be his fourth MMA fight this calendar year. Most memorably in August when he beat the living hell out of Jorge Gurgel including an illegal knee that nearly sent Mauro Ranollo into cardiac arrest. Neither of these fighters are really that well loved but Noons specifically has a reputation for engaging in dirty pool. If he hopes to win this fight he’ll probably have to knock Diaz out and really the sooner the better. In their last fight he decimated Diaz early forcing the doctor stoppage after the first round. I don’t see that happening again. Diaz has only gotten better in the last three years and he’s smart enough to know that a ground game will neutralize pretty much all of Noons weapons. Plus, Diaz is no slouch himself in the boxing department and after 4 long rounds have worked their magic on Noons and his suspect cardio I expect to see Diaz land a KO blow of his own.
Pick: Diaz via 5th round TKO
Tags: Gesias Cavalcante, Josh Thomson, KJ Noons, Mixed Martial Arts, Nick Diaz, Sarah Kaufman