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Strikeforce comes out in full force

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What to make of tonight’s Strikeforce: Miami card? Stoner Nick Diaz and DREAM headhunter (and welterweight champ) Marius Zaromskis may be the official headliner as they battle for the vacant welterweight title, but there’s a couple of other show-stealers on the card.

Obviously, Herschel Walker will attract the lion’s share of the attention. You can’t expect less when an NFL legend makes his MMA debut. It doesn’t hurt that the NFL Pro Bowl takes place on Sunday also in Miami, meaning football fans who couldn’t care less about MMA will likely be tuning in. Walker’s opponent is veritable unknown Greg Nagy, a 1-1 fighter with a nobody record. There’s little chance Strikeforce intends to throw tae kwon do black belt Walker – a promotional cash cow – to the wolves, meaning Nagy should be an easy mark. Then again, that’s what EliteXC thought when they gave Seth Petruzelli to Kimbo Slice. So, quick knockout or three rounds of sloppy slap fighting – it could go either way.

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Expect Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos to steamroll through Shooto and Smackgirl vet Marloes Coenen to retain her 145-pound women’s title. Cyborg is a destroyer, Grendel in a sports bra, and Coenen, while a more technical fighter, just isn’t (look at the weigh-in photo, people!). Like Cyborg vs. Gina Carano, there’s little chance this makes it out of the first round.

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Likewise you can expect an early night for 185-pounders Robbie Lawler and Melvin Manhoef. Standing and banging is the dumbest thing Lawler could do against the Dutch K-1 and DREAM killer who has racked up 23 wins by knockout. The smart game plan would be for Lawler to use his wrestling, take Manhoef down and submit him. Right. Except Lawler has already admitted he plans to go toe-to-toe and see what happens. Maybe it’s foolish pride, maybe it’s mind games. Regardless, this bout has serious knockout of the night potential.

Speaking of knockouts, my gut is telling me that hillbilly heavyweight Wes Sims (from the most-recent season of The Ultimate Fighter) will get laid out like fresh lumber by Strikeforce newcomer and former WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley. Sims says he hasn’t really trained in months, and while he says it with that good ol’ boy attitude, he doesn’t have the same yokel charm – or sense of intentional misdirection – as when Forrest Griffin self-deprecates. Add to that the fact Sims didn’t sign for the fight until just last week. Can the picture be painted any more clearly?

Okay, back to the main event. Zaromskis is a cyclone. He won four times in 2009, including twice by highlight-reel headkick (one victim was Japanese star Hayoto “Mach” Sakurai, no less), and has ten career wins by stoppage from strikes. Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who fancies himself a boxer, which would be a dangerous path to take against a lightning strike like the Lithuanian Zaromskis. Tough call either way but I’ve got ten bucks on the DREAM warrior.

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