The eight combatants scheduled for the “Strikeforce – Diaz vs. Noons II” main card spoke to media on Thursday afternoon one last time prior to making the final march towards their impending in-ring action. Though additional security was brought in by the promotion in lieu of the potential for problems between Nick Diaz’s and KJ Noons’ camps, all in attendance acted professionally and things ultimately went off without a hitch.
Opening up the event on Showtime, BJJ ace Andre Galvao and talented grappler Tyron Woodley both acknowledged the opportunity at hand when they lock horns. “Tyron is a tough fighter, a top wrestling guy who has fought three times on Strikeforce,” said Galvao of his undefeated opponent. “I am excited and have a good game plan. I’m ready to go.”
Woodley, on the other hand, stated he wasn’t as concerned with Galvao’s strategy against him so much as the chance to work his way towards a shot at welterweight gold. “I can’t concern myself on what an opponent my do. It’s up to me to turn my weaknesses into strengths,” he began. “This fight means a ton to me. I fought through the Strikeforce Challengers series. Fans got to learn my story as a fighter, they got to see me develop and get better each fight. They got to submit guys fast. They got to see me go through wars. This is definitely a step forward towards my dream to be a champion. We’ll get those fireworks going on Saturday.”
While both 170-pounders were well-behaved, Josh Thomson took time to talk trash in relation to his bout against Strikeforce newcomer JZ Cavalcante, though the smack was curiously directed at a lightweight peer rather than his Brazilian opponent and actually used in a complimentary fashion rather than a derogatory one.
“JZ is a savage and a beast and I think it’s a joke that you guys have a guy like Ben Henderson ranked above a guy like him,” said Thomson of Cavalcante and WEC’s lightweight champ. “I could go out there and fight the fight of my life and still lose. I have to beat him everywhere; there is no way I am going to win this fight doing one thing. JZ has fought some good ones all over the world. He is probably bigger and hits harder so I know I have to lay it on the line and see what happens.”
However, American Top Team’s Cavalcante avoided posturing of any sort, opting instead to address his recent injury problems and excitement about fighting the former 155-pound champ in front of an American crowd. “I was off a long time because of my injuries but I’ve seen a lot by working with teammates and other guys that have helped me stay involved in the game…but there is nothing like a real fight,” said the 27-year old. “This will be an excellent fight and I’m really looking forward to it and fighting for Strikeforce. I like being part of a fight fans want to see and are talking about. This is my chance to make a name for myself in America.”
All four participants slated for the evening’s title-bouts also had a chance to address their opponents and offer a take on the event as a whole. Female welterweight champ Sarah Kaufman expressed her appreciation for defending her belt on a major card, saying, “This is definitely a big deal for the 135-pound division and a big push forward for it. The more attention and exposure we get, the more the fan base will grow. There’s already a good fan base for the Strikeforce women at 145 pounds, so this is a great opportunity for us and the division.”
Her adversary on Saturday, Marloes Coenen, stated dropping down a division to face Kaufman hadn’t hurt her power, and said the chance to hoist Strikeforce gold above her head meant a tremendous amount to her. “This fight means the world to me. I won a world tournament in Japan ten years ago and here I am again, ten years later, with another opportunity to win another potentially life-changing event. A victory means I can stay and have a career in America. I would love that to happen very much,” said the Dutch submission specialist.
Closing the press conference out, headlining rivals Diaz and Noons maintained civility while discussing their long-awaited rematch rather than resorting to behavior similar to that bringing about a post-fight melee in their EliteXC days.
“I have respect for Nick as a fighter. His style works for him and I like to watch him fight,” said Noons of the welterweight champion. “The first fight I worked on going forward against Nick because Nick never fights going backward, but I’ve been working on all aspects of the game. I’m sure at some point he’s going to try and take me down but I am ready for anything.”
Diaz keep things professional as well. “I feel good and weight-wise I am almost perfect. I was angry for a long time (about the first fight). I was real upset that it ended the way it did because it wasn’t like I was hurt. Then I kind of dropped the idea of ever fighting a rematch because he got out of MMA. I never considered the first fight as a loss. I just always looked at it as a fight that was stopped (too soon),” replied Diaz when asked about his initial scrap with part-time pro boxer Noons and the bout’s stoppage for cuts.
However, the Stockton native closed things out by making sure fans understood he won’t be entering the ring on Saturday with personal feelings getting in the way of his ultimate goal of retaining his strap.
“I don’t feel that this fight is about revenge…but I’m happy now that he took the fight.”
“Strikeforce – Diaz vs. Noons II” takes place in Strikeforce’s home-base of San Jose and will be available for viewing this Saturday night on Showtime beginning at 9:00 PM ET (delayed on the West Coast).
PHOTO CREDIT – Esther Lin / STRIKEFORCE