SUNRISE, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2010) – Nick Diaz (21-7) of Stockton, Calif., won his sixth straight and the first-ever STRIKEFORCE welterweight championship with a 4:38, first-round TKO over Marius Zaromskis (13-4) of London, England, and the first and only STRIKEFORCE Female lightweight champion, Cris Cyborg (9-1) of Curitiba, Brazil, successfully defended her 145-title for the initial time with a third-round TKO over Marloes Coenen (17-4) of Deventer, Holland, in the co-featured matches of an action-packed mixed martial arts card before 8,156 at BankAtlantic Center Saturday on SHOWTIME®.
In other results on the main portion of Strikeforce’s first event in 2010, former pro and college football superstar Herschel Walker of San Jose, Calif., made his pro MMA debut at age 47 a winning one, registering a third-round TKO (2:17) over Hungarian-born Greg Nagy (1-2) of Phoenix, Ariz., former two-time world champion “Ruthless’’ Robbie Lawler (17-5, 1 NC) of Granite City, Ill., rallied from the brink of defeat to score a spectacular 3:33, first-round knockout (punches) over Melvin Manhoef (24-7-1) of Amsterdam and unbeaten Bobby Lashley of Coconut Creek, Fla., won his Strikeforce debut and improved to 5-0 with a 2:06, first-round TKO over Wes Sims (22-13-1, 2 NC) of Lancaster, Ohio.
The event, presented by SHOWTIME and STRIKEFORCE, aired live simultaneously on SHOWTIME® and on the Web (Strikeforce: All Access) at http://strikeforce.sho.com. The SHOWTIME telecast began at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast); the Strikeforce: All Access webcast went at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
In a fight streamed live on EA SPORTS™ MMA website (www.easportsmma.com), Jay Heiron (19-4) of Las Vegas took a unanimous three-round decision over Joe Riggs (32-11) of Phoenix to put him in position to possibly fight for the Strikeforce welterweight title.
Southpaw Diaz, a talented, Cesar Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, mostly outclassed Zaromskis in the match for the vacant world title. Diaz decisively defeated the Dutchman at his own game: striking.
“I’ll fight anybody,’’ said Diaz, who has been victorious in seven of his last eight and hasn’t lost in more than two years. I felt real good fighting again at 170. But the guy I really want is Gegard Mousasi.’’
Cyborg had to work hard to defeat the courageous Coenen, who at no point seemed intimidated by the powerful Brazilian bomber and fought like it. She certainly wasn’t totally overwhelmed and presented Cyborg with more problems than the vast majority of Cyborg’s opponents.
In the end, Cyborg was too tough and rough. “I’m very happy to win this fight,’’ said Cyborg shortly the heated scrap was stopped at 3:40 of the third. “It was a good fight. I think I could have done more but she was the toughest fighter I’ve faced and has a great heart. I admire her a lot.’’
Coenen, a strikingly attractive submission whiz who couldn’t take down Cyborg, wanted the fight to continue. “This is extremely disappointing to say the least,’’ she said. “This was for a world title. It should have been allowed to go a little longer. I wanted to fight.’’
A native of Wrightsville, Ga., Walker was satisfied with his performance in his highly-anticipated, much-publicized debut. Endurance-wise, he didn’t fight like a man his age. He was still breathing easily during the post-fight interview.
“I feel good but I didn’t do many things right and I still have a lot to learn,’’ said Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and a two-time Pro Bowl competitor. “The experience itself was exciting and I thank my opponent for fighting me. It’s tough to fight an old man. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
“I thought I’d be more nervous. I’m an MMA fighter now. I earned a little bit of a stripe tonight. This is one of my biggest athletic achievements ever.’’
Nothing was going right for the left-handed Lawler for more than three minutes as the highly regarded Manhoef had his way. But a savage overhand right rocked Manhoef and a left that caught him on the way down ended matters almost immediately.
“I knew this guy was really a killer, but I knew I would catch him,’’ Lawler said. “When he looks to finish, he really loads up. I just lured him in and got him.
“He was chopping and chopping and he was really hurting me with the leg kicks. When I felt the first one land, I knew I could get one more in and finish, and that’s what I did.’’
Lashley, who wants to fight for a world title, said Saturday’s exercise against the 6-foot-10-inch Sims was an excellent learning experience.
“Anytime you win and learn something, it’s a good night,’’ he said. “Sims is a tall guy who came in with nothing to lose, almost like he didn’t care, and those are the guys that are usually the hardest to fight.
“I want to continue to step up.’’
Hieron outpointed Riggs by the scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28: “I wanted to beat Joe and show that I am a top fighter,’’ Heiron said. “I want to fight the winner of Diaz-Zaromskis. Actually, I hope it is Diaz but I don’t care.’’
STRIKEFORCE: Miami will be available On Demand beginning Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Mauro Ranallo called the action on SHOWTIME with MMA expert Stephen Quadros and MMA superstar Frank Shamrock serving as expert analysts.
In Saturday’s non-televised results: Pablo “The Hurricane’’ Alfonso (5-1), Jacksonville Fla., submitted (armbar) Marcos “Parrumpinha” DeMatta (8-1), Coconut Creek, Fla., at 1:47 in the first round (140 pounds); Hayder Hasan (3-1), Coconut Creek, KO 2 (2:42, punches) over Ryan Keenan (3-1), Orlando, Fla., at 170 pounds; John Kelly (4-0), Miami, submitted (rear naked choke) Sabah Homasi (2-0), West Palm Beach, Fla., at 2;48 of the second round (170 pounds); Michael Byrnes (1-2), Port Saint Lucie, Fla., won a majority decision (30-27 twice and 29-29) over David Zitnik (4-7), Sunrise, at 155 pounds; David Gomez (1-2), Miami, won a unanimous decision (30-27 three times) over Craig Oxley (0-3), Miami (145 pounds); ad Joe Ray (1-0), Miami, TKO 1 (3:14, strikes) over John Clarke (0-1), Hollywood, Fla. (170 pounds).