Nick Diaz and Jacare Souza make weight for Saturday night Strikeforce title defenses in San Jose, Herschel Walker and Roger Gracie prepare for intriguing MMA fights

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Friday, January 28, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Strikeforce Nick Diaz Cyborg Santos weigh in faceoff

Strikeforce Middleweight champion Jacare Souza

Former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker prepares for second MMA bout

Strikeforce ring girls at Weigh-Ins

Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz and Middleweight Champion ‘Jacare’ Souza were on weight Friday afternoon at HP Pavilion in San Jose. Diaz (23-7-1, 7subs, 12kos) is looking to continue his 8-fight, 33-month winning streak against veteran Brazilian Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos. The Stockton native dismantled rival K.J. Noons with a 5-round MMA striking clinic last October in San Jose. He is looking to make his second title defense against a veteran Cyborg who KO’d Dream Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromskis in a non-title fight last June. “I feel good and I’m ready to fight. Cyborg has a unique style and I know that he will give it his all and be as crazy as ever, but that’s good because I’m crazy, too,” Diaz said in a pre-fight press conference. He will face a 33-year old Cyborg making only his second appearance as a welterweight. Dropping down from middleweight could improve his cardio, but the veteran grinder will be facing a volume puncher who landed an incredible 193-of-442 (43.6%) strikes against talented former boxer/kickboxer Noons. Diaz is the USA Today/SB Nation #7th ranked welterweight. A win for Diaz could set the table for a much anticipated bout with Paul Daley.

Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields held on to his title for 8 months and a pair of defenses before he left for the UFC last summer. Still very popular in the Bay Area, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez said that Shields had cleaned out his division before leaving. That is decidedly not the case. Current Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza (13-2-1, 10subs, 2kos) has a single loss in his last 15 fights. The loss came via a stunning upkick delivered by Gegard Mousasi in the 2008 Dream Middleweight Grand-Prix Final, a fight he was thoroughly controlling up until that point. One local trainer tagged ‘Jacare’ Souza and Demian Maia as the two athletes having the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu adapted for MMA. While Souza is a highly regarded BJJ black belt, a 5-time World Jiu-Jitsu Champion and an Abu Dhabi Combat Club Absolute Division runner up, what is revelatory about his rise has been his positional wrestling and striking. Souza is the #8th ranked middleweight according to USA Today/SB Nation consensus rankings, but a win over the #11th ranked Robbie Lawler should vault him into the top-5 at a minimum.

‘Jacare’, Brazilian for alligator, does an alligator chomp not unlike the Shark chomp utilized by hockey fans on home power plays at HP Pavilion. “Some were surprised that I stood last time but Lawler is a different kind of fighter than I had in my last one,” Souza said in a pre-fight press conference. “If I have to stand, I will, of course, but I know it is important that I keep control.” Souza is coming off a ery difficult 5-round unanimous decision over Army Special Forces member Tim Kennedy, a fight worthy of a rematch down the line. Saturday night, Souza will be up against the heavy handed Robbie Lawler (20-6-1, 1sub, 17kos). Lawler has had a tumultuous recent history with setbacks against Scott Smith (NC, poke in the eye), Jake Shields (submission loss, guillotine choke) and Renato Sobral (unanimous decision loss) punctuated with KO’s over Scott Smith, Melvin Manhoef and Matt Lindland. Lawler needs patience and a gameplan. If the Gilbert, Arizona native can defend the takedown and remain on his feet, the odds will be slightly less overwhelming. “I don’t feel either of us think that we can afford to make a mistake,” Lawler said.

Filling out the main televised card are a pair of intriguing matchups in Roger Gracie vs. Trevor Prangley, and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker vs. Scott Carson. Gracie (3-0, 3subs) is widely considered one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners on the planet. He has won the BJJ Mundials (World Jiu-Jitsu Championship) a record 10 times, and has won multiple ADCC submission grappling championships. His transition into MMA has been a slow and slightly forced one. In the last 4 years, he has averaged just over 20 months between fights. Saturday night he will meet San Jose-based veteran Trevor Prangley (23-6-1, 9subs, 4kos). Prangley has been far more busy in the MMA arena, fighting 7 times over the last 21 months for 5 different promotions. Prangley brings a striking and NCAA Division 1 wrestling background into the fight. According to current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum, seated next to Sharkspage at the weigh-ins, if the fight goes to the ground there is a 100% chance Gracie wins.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and USFL/NFL star Herschel Walker (1-0, 1ko) has been the most prominent fighter on the press tour in the leadup to this fight. Walker earned a 3rd round TKO against journeyman Greg Nagy in his January MMA debut during the NFL’s Pro Bowl weekend in Miami. He was forced to pull out of a December 4th fight against Scott Carson (4-1) in St. Louis, but he will enter the ring againt Carson Saturday night. Walker showed excellent technique and conditioning against Nagy in his MMA debut, but the mobility and footwork for the 48-year old was limited. Against a much larger opponent that may be less of an issue, but it is also something his trainers at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose have keyed on. “The Herschel of today would have beaten up the Herschel of a year ago. I was dumb and naïve when I first started. But I have learned a lot,” Walker said in a pre-fight press conference. Whatever the result, Herschel Walker will remain an ambassador for the sport and an inspiration to an older generation.

The main event card will be televised on Showtime live on the east coast at 10PM ET, and tape delayed on the west coast at 10PM PT. A stacked undercard will be aired online at beginning at 5:15PM PT. The undercard features a welterweight contender match between San Jose’s Nate Moore (6-2) and former Oregon wrestler Nathan Coy (8-3), popular local fighter Bobby Stack, flamboyant undefeated Dutch Muaythai kickboxer Germaine de Randamie (45-0 in Muaythai, 1-1 in MMA) in her Strikeforce debut, former ShoMMA headliner James Terry, and local Muaythai kickboxing headliner Jenna Castillo in her pro-MMA debut. 3 amateur MMA fight will be held under the new CAMO to begin the event. No word yet if they will utilize the new CAMO MMA-specific half points system, but according to ESPN’s Josh Gross the fights could be scored in conjunction with traditional scoring to be used for evaluation purposes.

A photo gallery from the weigh-ins is available here.

[Update] Official weigh-in results:

Strikeforce ‘Diaz vs. Cyborg’ Weigh-In Results:
HP Pavilion – San Jose, California
January 28, 2011
Showtime broadcast 10PM ET/PT

Strikeforce Welterweight World Title Fight
Nick Diaz 23-7, 1NC (169.5) vs. Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos 18-13 (169.5)
Strikeforce Middleweight World Title Fight
Jacare Souza 13-2, 2NC (184.25) vs. Robbie Lawler 18-6 (184)
Herschel Walker 1-0 (220.75) vs. Scott Carson 4-1 (214)
Roger Gracie 3-0 (206) vs. Trevor Prangley 23-6-1 (205.25)

Non-Televised Undercard:
SH – Select undercard fights will be streamed on at 8:15PM (ET)

Nate Moore 6-2 (171) vs. Nathan Coy 8-3 (171.25*) – SH
Bobby Stack 8-1 (154.75) vs. Isaiah Hill 4-7 (155.5) – SH
Ron Keslar 5-3 (179.5) vs. Eric Lawson 9-3 (180) – SH
Germain de Randamie 1-1 (135.5) vs. Stephanie Webber 1-1 (135.75) – SH
James Terry 6-2 (170.5) vs. Lucas Gamaza 4-1 (171) – SH
Jenna Castillo pro debut (121.5*) vs. Charlene Geliner pro debut (118) – SH

CAMO Amateur MMA bouts:

Anthony Dariano 1-0 (149.5) vs. Alan Perez 4-2 (151)
Ricky Jackson 3-1 (166) vs. Niko Jackson 3-2 (164.5)
Sam Bracamonte 1-1 (168) vs. Armin Safiari pro debut (169.5)

* given additional time to make weight

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