It all goes down today, fans and friends. After almost three years of intense build-up, Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons 2 is now a reality. Tonight Strikeforce will holds its “Diaz vs. Noons 2” event on Showtime, featuring the aforementioned rematch, with the added bonus of the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship being on the line. Even the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight (135-pound) Championship is on the line. It should be a good event, so here are my picks and predictions for all the big fights.
Tyron Woodley vs. Andre Galvao: I’ll be completely honest and say that I know very little about both fighters. Both are relative newcomers to MMA, but there’s a reason they’re competing on the main card: they’ve earned that right by having a large majority of their admittedly few wins end via stoppage. From what research I’ve gathered, Galvao is a highly decorated Brazilian Jui Jitsu practitioner, while Woodley only has wins by submission. This one is going to the ground and getting there quickly, and since records are all I have to base this one on, I think the ground game favors someone that has as many medals in grappling as Galvao. I’ll pick Galvao to win by submission in the second round.
Josh Thomson vs. Gesias Cavalcante: This fight has a lot of potential for a lot of very different reasons. First and foremost, both men are skilled veterans- combined they have over forty professional MMA fights. They’re also very evenly matched: give or take a few here and there and they’ve got an equal amount of (T)KO, submission, and decision victories. Both men have lost only three times, but Thomson has been KO’d once. Still, both men are so evenly-matched that I think this one will go to the judges. I’m picking Thomson because this will be his tenth fight for Strikeforce and it’ll be Cavalcante’s first. Despite how talented Cavalcante is, it’s incredibly difficult to go up against such a mountain of experience, especially when your opponent mirrors you so closely. I’m not ruling anything out, but I think Thomson takes a Unanimous Decision.
Sarah Kaufman vs. Marloes Coenen: I’ve said a lot about this fight, but in the end it all boils down to this: Coenen lost her last fight, Kaufman has never lost period. That’s all I’ll ever need to know in order to pick Kaufman in this bout. Anything can happen in MMA, but Coenen has a long and difficult road ahead of her, one that I honestly see her falling off of. I don’t see Kaufman running a train and giving us another monster KO, though, I think she’ll play it safe now that she’s on a major Strikeforce show. She’ll constantly keep the fight in her comfort zone, and while it won’t be the most exciting fight ever, it will be one worth watching and it will see Kaufman retain her championship via Unanimous Decision.
Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons: First off, credit goes to Strikeforce for finally making this rematch a reality. This is going to be an amazing fight. Fists are going to be flying a mile a minute, and someone is going to get knocked out. If Diaz can survive KJ’s early onslaughts, Nick’s “punches in bunches” style should do enough cumulative damage to seriously hurt Noons in the later rounds and set him up for a TKO. But if Noons manages to find a home for his power punches early and often, Diaz could also find himself on the wrong end of a TKO. Nevertheless I’m picking Diaz to win, I think he’ll adopt a “stick and move” gameplan that peppers KJ, weakens him considerably, and makes him angry enough to start getting careless. Then Diaz will drop the hammer. Look for Nick Diaz to win by TKO near Round 3.
So those are my picks, fans and friends. We’re now down to the wire, so get your final picks in: who do you see winning at “Diaz vs. Noons 2”?