What a night of fights we saw Saturday night in San Jose! I’ve sat close for a lot of fights in the past, but thanks to my broadcast partner “The Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros, I was in the “corral” for the Diaz/Noons card.
The “corral” is the first two rows of seats right outside of the cage. What a completely different view of the fights when you are that close, and can hear the punches and the corner guys screaming at their fighters from 5 feet away. The night started with Tyron Woodley’s very impressive first round knockout of Andre Galvao. Quadros and I had a chance to speak to both guys the day before the fight, and while Woodley looked fresh, relaxed and ready to go, Galvao looked (in my opinion) like he had struggled with the weight cut. He didn’t have the same energy as Woodley on Friday, and he had no answers for Woodley on Saturday night.
The talk after the fight was Tyron could be the next challenger to Nick Diaz for the 170 pound belt. I’m not sure that will happen since you have Jason “Mayhem” Miller hanging around, and the Miller/Diaz fight could get a pretty good response considering the history between these two guys, but Woodley will get his shot soon enough. I also heard rumblings of Woodley taking on another Clinch Gear sponsored fighter Tarec Saffiedine. I love this fight, but would hate to see this be the next fight for either guy. This seems like a match-up that could be a co main event down the road. I know that waiting to make fights in MMA can be dangerous, since this sport is filled with upsets, but I still would gamble, give Tarec and Tyron each another fight or two, and make that match-up in the summer of 2011.
Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen were up next in a fight for Kaufman’s Women’s 135lb title. I am not always the biggest fan of the women’s fights, but this was really good. Kaufman seemed to have the fight under control, but gave Marloes a chance at an armbar, and just like that we had a new champion. Both of these fighters were so classy before and after the fight, you almost forgot they were fighters. Coenen will make her first defense against Miesha Tate on an upcoming Strikeforce card.
At this point the volume in the HP Pavilion went up a couple of notches as local kid Josh Thomson took on JZ Cavalcante. Quadros had predicted this as “fight of the night” earlier in the day on the “Clinch Gear Radio”, and he might have been right. Thomson looked like he was done in the first round, only to survive and eventually come out on top. With Thomson’s win, it now sets up the rubber match between “The Punk” and current Strikeforce Lightweight Champ Gilbert Melendez. If you saw Thomson and Melendez joking around backstage at the weigh-ins Friday afternoon you would never imagine these two guys love beating each other up. I thought the fight was close, but didn’t have a problem with Thomson winning. Cavalcante was frustrated with decision, and told Quadros and I after the fight he felt he had won. JZ is a tough kid, and I look forward to seeing him back in action soon.
At this point I was wondering if the KJ Noons vs Nick Diaz fight could be as good as we all hoped. There was no question these guys don’t like each other, but we’ve seen similar situations in the past turn into bad fights when both guys fight cautious after talking tough for months. It was clear from the first round on that these guys were going to deliver. Sitting that close you could hear the crack of the body punches delivered by both guys. KJ had issues with his long hair getting in his eyes most of the night, and my guess is we see him with shorter hair in his next fight. Noons fought tough, but it was clear to most ringsiders from the 4th round on, that Nick was in control of the fight. It was only later we found out that Noons had fought those last 3 rounds with a broken left hand and a broken jaw. I don’t know about you, but if I had either one of those injuries I would be on the couch for a month. I wouldn’t be throwing punches, and letting Nick Diaz punch me in the face. My guess is Noons will go back down to 155, (vs Cavalcante?) and as I mentioned earlier you see Diaz/Mayhem in the early part of 2011. All in all it was a really good fight card. Congratulations to all of our Clinch Gear sponsored fighters (Tyron Woodley, Andre Galvao, Sarah Kaufman, Marloes Coenen, Josh Thomson, and James Terry) for their great efforts!