SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Nick Diaz finally got his revenge.
The Cesar Gracie product earned a unanimous decision over K.J. Noons, retained his Strikeforce welterweight title and avenged his 2007 loss to the former EliteXC lightweight champion in the Strikeforce "Diaz vs. Noons 2" main event on Saturday at the HP Pavilion. Scores were 48-47, 49-47 and 49-46 for Diaz, who won his eighth consecutive fight.
"I can beat this guy in a boxing match," Diaz said. "I'll also tap him out on the ground. This is mixed martial arts. I can do it all."
Diaz exhibited a noticeable change in strategy from their first fight by coming out orthodox and using his reach to keep Noons at a distance. Early in the first round, Diaz buckled Noons with a beautifully timed straight right hand and pushed Noons into side control on the ground. Noons' long hair appeared to hinder him, as he constantly needed to wipe it from his eyes.
In Round 2, Noons evened the score and opened a cut over Diaz's right eye. Both men began to talk trash, standing in front of each other and winging punches. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt stole the momentum back in Round 3, however, as he frustrated Noons with straight punches, causing him to swing out of frustration. Diaz countered off of those shots, bloodying his opponent's nose and taunting him even further.
The championship rounds brought more of the same, as Diaz continued to use his reach advantage to pepper the challenger. Though Noons landed a few shots of his own, Diaz's volume punching was too much for him to handle. Chants of "Diaz" rang out through the arena after he ate a nasty uppercut from Noons and stormed back, landing a stout knee and a stiff one-two to end Round 4. In the fifth, Diaz landed more strikes at a much higher rate. The crowd stood and cheered the efforts of both men as time expired.
"He beat me fair and square," Noons said. "He was the better man."
Thomson outpoints Cavalcante, targets Melendez
In a battle that could have gone either way, former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson took a significant step toward regaining his title by earning what some saw as a puzzling unanimous decision over stocky Brazilian Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante. Unfortunately, the scorecards did not reflect the closeness of the fight, as Thomson earned scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
"I felt like s--- in here," Thomson said. "I left it in the judges' hands, and that's not something I like to do. JZ's one of the hardest hitting guys I've ever been in the cage with. I've got nothing but respect for him."
Both fighters came out of the gate ready to get busy. After what looked to be an accidental clash of heads, Cavalcante landed a massive right hand, staggering the former champion. Thomson looked immediately to shoot, but JZ locked up an arm-in guillotine choke and pulled guard. With the strain on his face visible, Cavalcante tried to finish. The partisan crowd cheered on Thomson and erupted when he finally popped his head out of the submission. From the top, Thomson landed some ground-and-pound and secured a submission attempt of his own, cinching an arm-triangle choke and passing to side control. Though the Brazilian was in trouble, he held on to the end of the round.
In Round 2, the two lightweights took a few minutes to recover until Thomson pressed and scored a leg trip. After nearly taking the Brazilian's back, the American Kickboxing Academy standout worked from the half guard, landing strikes and winning the round.
The tide seemed to turn in Round 3, as Cavalcante executed a powerful throw and landed in full mount. The Dream veteran failed to inflict any punishment, however, as "The Punk" recovered guard and postured for the cameras before scrambling to his feet. Once there, heads seemed to accidentally clash once more, and JZ jumped on the opportunity. The fight ended with Thomson attempting submissions from his back. The win puts Thomson in position for a potential rubber match with reigning Strikeforce lightweight king Gilbert Melendez.
"Everybody knows Gilbert and I are friends," Thomson said. "I'm knocking on the door to get my title back. Everybody's wanting to see the trilogy."
Coenen dehtrones Kaufman
The match began with both women standing in the pocket willing to trade. Coenen used her reach, as she fired off leg kicks and right hand leads, trying to catch the shorter Kaufman coming in. Coenen closed the distance and clinched, but the wily Kaufman secured double under hooks and landed an elbow. The action was methodical until the end of the second round, when Coenen unleashed a beautiful throw that Kaufman immediately reversed, to the crowd's delight. From Coenen's guard, the Canadian fended off submission attempts while throwing hard punches as the round came to a close.
The third frame began with another Coenen takedown, followed by another Kaufman reversal. Once on top, the champion began to throw bombs aimed directly at Coenen's skull. The Golden Glory fighter absorbed punishment from her back but never surrendered, locking up Kaufman's right arm. Kaufman tapped furiously at 1:59 of the third. The former Hardcore Championship Fighting 135-pound champion mounted a small protest after the fight, evidently complaining that Coenen did not release the hold soon enough. Coenen apologized afterward.
"I really didn't know," Coenen said. "Normally in training, I know when to let go. The referee was a little late."
Unbeaten Woodley blasts Galvao
An All-American wrestler at the University of Missouri, Woodley used his wrestling pedigree to stuff his opponent's takedown attempts and batter him standing. Woodley credited his victory to his preparation.
"I had to dig down deep," said Woodley. "I trained everything hard for this fight. I had a lot of guys who helped me with my striking. I had to mix things out, and it all came together."
The American Top Team product landed a stiff right hand to Galvao's jaw early on and never looked back, following up with a hard body kick. Galvao, a seven-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, tried valiantly to score takedowns on several occasions, but Woodley's wrestling proved too much, as he landed vicious hammer fists to a prone Galvao.
After getting back to his feet, the Brazilian wobbled noticeably before shooting one last time. Woodley met him again with a sprawl and punches, and referee Josh Rosenthal had no choice but to stop the contest to save Galvao from further punishment. With that, Woodley staked his claim to title contention.
"I think it's obvious where I fit," he said. "I think I should be up next [for a title shot]."
Mike Whitman is a contributor to Sherdog.com.