Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of many similarly-styled articles to come! In each “Eight-Point Stance” I’ll be trading the knees, elbows, fists, and feet typically associated with Muay Thai striking for commentary on a like-number of items related to a recent MMA event (or possibly multiple shows depending on the weekend). Obviously, “Strikeforce – Diaz vs. Noons II” will be this week’s subject.
The following will in no way be a breakdown of bouts, but rather moments, both good and bad, that stood out to me. There’s also no rhyme or reason to the order in which they’re listed. In reality, the only similarity my points will have to a formal ranking is their subjective nature. Some will be serious, some will be humorous – all will be opinion.
Breast Cancer Awareness
Strikeforce/Showtime deserve due praise for the overwhelming presence of pink on Saturday night’s broadcast. With the combination of combat and carnation in the building, it was as if Rich Franklin had spilled a bottle of Pepto Bismol on his trademark trunks and inspired a new fad. Merchandise was dipped in the color, gloves were taped in it, and Josh Thomson made sure to highlight the image of a pink ribbon on his trunks alongside the rest of his sponsors when a camera cut to him backstage. Not only was the promoters’ decision to do so a great way to show support for October being National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and hopefully raise some money in the process for the cause, but also an excellent image in general to portray to the public for a sport so often mislabeled as simply being mindless violence. The disease has no doubt affected a number of individuals in MMA, as it has people in every walk of life, and making its plight a noticeable part of the program not only showed professionalism on the part of Scott Coker’s team but pure class as well.
Marloes Coenen’s Armbar
Did she hold onto it too long? Was the tap too soft? Could the referee have been in a better position to stop the submission? Maybe, maybe, and maybe. Regardless, the entire series of events involved the difference of literally a half-second at most, and, from my perspective, it seemed if anything might have caused an unfortunate tweak to Sarah Kaufman’s arm it was the angle at which the official toppled the tangled twosome rather than the pressure Coenen was applying to her opponent’s limb.
Moving on, what caught my eye was not just that she was able to catch the previously undefeated Canadian in the hold but the fact Kaufman fell into her trap. There’s no doubt in my mind Kaufman trained to avoid the armbar, as it’s the bread-and-butter finisher for the newly crowned Dutch champ, and yet there she was pounding away from inside her guard. I don’t know if she felt Coenen was out of it due to the damage being dished out or underestimated her opponent’s technical ability, but it surprised me someone with Kaufman’s skill fell victim to a submission her adversary owes a third of her overall wins to (not to mention three-quarters of the tap-outs she’s procured).
Thomson/Cavalcante First Round
The first frame of JZ Cavalcante’s showdown with “The Punk” was by far my favorite round of the total twelve shown. It had a little bit of everything in terms of pacing, stand-up, grappling, and even came with near-finishes from both of the talented lightweights. I also got an additional bit of enjoyment from simply watching Cavalcante compete in a Strikeforce ring, as it was nice to finally see him fighting in a significant American promotion. He’s a great addition to the divisional pool and has the potential to get even better as long as he can stay healthy.
Galvao/Woodley Finishing Sequence
There’s no question Andre Galvao was Dragnet-done when the referee stopped things in his match-up with still-undefeated Tyron Woodley, but I thought the overall manner in which he went down was a bit strange. It didn’t seem as though he took a shot meriting the sort of knee-knocking damage he exhibited prior to Woodley ultimately smashing him, face-down, a few times from above. It’s possible his chin is as glassy as Joe Rogan’s eyes before Thanksgiving Dinner, while “T-Wood” was also undoubtedly the most explosive opponent he’d faced in his career, but I think there may have been another culprit at play.
Galvao is extremely muscular for his size. I remember seeing him backstage at “Strikeforce – Houston” and thinking he looked like a 185-pounder. I also recall him looking exhausted in that bout, and seeing his tank empty so early against Woodley made me wonder if perhaps he cuts a significant amount of weight and doesn’t react to it well. He looked similar in size to Woodley, who is equally shredded, but then again the former Missouri Tiger is two inches taller than Galvao and also has an amateur wrestler’s background to work with. Being 5’7”, as the Brazilian stands, may not be ideal for a middleweight but unless he slims down it could help him performance-wise to reduce the pre-fight poundage he’s dropping. Given his BJJ background and upper-body strength there’s no reason he can’t become Strikeforce’s version of Rousimar Palhares (5’8”) minus the heel-hooks.
Mauro Renallo’s Hair
I’m not sure if Renallo’s slicked-back do was a new fashion statement from the “Bi-Polar Rock’N’Roller” or an homage to Gordon Gecko given the recent release of “Wall Street 2”, but for some reason I found myself fascinated by the manner in which he was rocking his lettuce. I kept waiting for him to recite old Leonardo DiCaprio lines or start coaching the Miami Heat. I anticipated the appearance of a Harley-Davidson and in-ring interviews while dressed in a leather jacket and white T-Shirt.
In all seriousness, Renallo’s work is hit-and-miss for me but I generally enjoy his stylings…verbal, that is. He’s passionate about the sport, has been there for some iconic moments, and always entertains with the best intentions possible. Outside of a little hyperbole, which is to be expected when he’s on the stick, Renallo did a fine job and his presence at an event is always welcome in my book. Frank Shamrock, eh…not so much.
While there’s little question referee Dan Stell could have approached the final seconds of the women’s title-bout more appropriately than he did, especially in regards to his separation of the entangled females, he also deserves credit for maintaining an active pace throughout things instead of allowing action to stall during the numerous times Kaufman/Coenen clinched against the cage. Neither was doing more than landing incidental knees in the position and it seemed clear nothing was likely to change without the official’s influence. I thought Stell handled the situation perfectly, and as much criticism as is deservedly directed at referees I thought it should also be pointed out they occasionally get it right too.
KJ Noons’ Class
Though the hard-hitting Hawaiian has definitely acted in an outspoken/controversial manner on more than one occasion in the past, Saturday evening he showed an enormous amount of humility in defeat. Noons could have talked about how he broke his hand in the second round of the fight or had competed with a broken jaw since the opening stanza; he could have mentioned he landed more strikes, and a higher percentage of them, than Nick Diaz; he could have mentioned he’d gone five hard rounds against the champ in a division above his standard competitive weight. He did none of those things. Rather than showing an iota of disrespect to 170-pound title-holder, Noons conceded defeat and gave Diaz his due. He maintained his professionalism at all times, even after having his overall skill questioned by a guy he bloodied and battled, and ultimately avoided the confrontation teased within the promotion of their rivalry leading up to the actual event. The way he handled himself impressed me and gave me a new level of respect for Noons. Perhaps the throne of “King Karl” isn’t so high off the ground after all?
Granted, this is not a new issue, but by my account there were approximately eighteen minutes left on the show’s allotted period of airtime when the broadcast ended. Looking at the undercard there were two submissions and two knockouts, a pair of second and third round finishes respectively. Putting my Highlights Magazine-approved math skills to the test, Strikeforce/Showtime could have easily fit a wide variety of combinations featuring two, maybe three, of the non-televised match-ups into the remaining space after the headlining event had concluded. Not only would the additional action be welcomed by fans watching at home, but it would give lesser-known fighters a chance to increase their exposure. I honestly can’t think of a good reason why a few extra bouts wouldn’t be shown as long as time permitted.