11:54 p.m.: Of different generations. Of different philosophies. Of different motivations. Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz would appear to share very little, save, that is, the love of a good fight.
In a bout few saw coming or even considered, Shamrock and Diaz collide Saturday in San Jose, Calif., where Strikeforce offers the first of its beefed up fair on Showtime.
Shamrock, cocky and self-aware, wore UFC gold around his waist when MMA fans couldn't fathom the sport landing on premium television. Diaz, a teenager in the late 1990s when Shamrock shone under an invisible cloak, lives on the edge. He speaks openly of his disdain for all things pop-culture, his need and use of marijuana -- herbal cleansers, he said before the fight, will clear him of commission-assessed drug tests -- and the necessity of a good scrap, which he should find tonight.
Physical builds are yet another thing the pair don't share. Though each weighed 180 pounds Friday, Shamrock is muscle-bound, top heavy. Diaz stands long and lean.
As the fight goes, Shamrock (23-9-2) would seem to have a power advantage. Yet, Diaz is a tough customer. He won't easily go away, and Shamrock's cardio, a strength early in his career, has looked like a liability since he returned to active competition following several extended layoffs. Diaz, a boxer, will pitter-patter Shamrock to death if can. On the canvas, Diaz (18-7-1) would also appear to be the more submission savvy fighter, though it's no sure thing to catch Frank.
Having fought the majority of his career at 170 pounds and lighter, Diaz might be hard pressed to handle Shamrock, a master strategist, on the inside or if he's forced to fight from his back. Bottom line tonight: 15,211 fans have packed the HP Pavilion to watch the pair. Surely, both would agree that is a good thing.
11:54 p.m.:Gilbert Melendez won a Strikeforce lightweight title, even if it wasn't the one he wanted. When the organization's true champion, Josh Thomson, fell off the card less than two weeks ago because of a broken leg suffered while training for the fight, Strikeforce brought in Brazilian veteran Rodrigo Damm. Most expected Melendez, previously champ before Thomson out-pointed him last June, to walk away with the interim title. He did, decisively with a second round knockout. Thomson, who had surgery Wednesday, should be next for Melendez.
11:54 p.m.:Scott Smith was counting on his right hand. It held up its end of the bargain -- even if it took longer than he might have liked. Smith (17-5) won in part because Benji Radach let him off the hook. At the end of the first, Radach (19-5) clipped Smith, never known for adequate head movement, with a short left hook. But the hard-punching and perpetually weak-chinned Radach laid back, opting instead for a takedown as the round closed. It was target practice in Round 2, this despite Radach moving less and offering single attacks rather than the early combinations that proved so effective. Heading into the final period and with Radach's corner up two rounds to none on each judge's scorecard, Smith's corner was animated. They knew the efficiency of the middleweight's right hand, and the susceptibility of Radach's oft-dinged jaw. They just needed one. As Radach slowed, Smith connected a devastating right straight that ended the brawl at 3:24 of the third.
11:55 p.m.: Known in Japan as the "Girlfight Monster," Hitomi Akano met the monster of girl fighters tonight and endured a steady beating before being saved 35 seconds into the third round. Having failed to make the bout's contracted 145-pound limit by an obscene seven pounds, Brazilian Cris "Cyborg" Santos didn't know until 2 a.m. Saturday, by which time she'd ballooned back to 158 lbs., whether Strikeforce could negotiate with Akano's camp to save the fight. The promotion did, and it was clear from the opening bell that Santos (7-1) was too much for her smaller counterpart. Immediately relegated to survival mode, Akano (14-6) hung around long enough so that "Cyborg" turned her face into a canvas of welts and bruises. Next on the docket (so it would seem from the number of times they showed her on the big screen in the arena) is the star of women's mixed martial arts, Gina Carano.
11:55 p.m.: Heavyweight Brett Rogers remained unbeaten after unleashing a torrent of knees and punches to a game Ron Humphrey (5-1). Rogers, now 9-0, drew a point deduction in the opening round after grabbing Humphrey's dreaded locks. Landing 23 of 27 knee strikes, Rogers bloodied Humphrey's nose and mouth before referee Herb Dean stepped in at 1:38 of Round 2.
11:58 p.m.: With nearly everyone in the building on their feet, Frank saunters to the cage. Diaz, already inside shadowboxing, jaws as the elder fighter makes his way to the corner.
11:59 p.m.: There is plenty of energy in the building for a fight that, in the grand scheme of things, means little. A win for Shamrock would seem to be of a benefit to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, who would like nothing more than to rematch Shamrock with the organization's middleweight champion Cung Le.
12:01 a.m.: Boos drown out cheers while Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduces the "colorful" Diaz. The pro/con mixture is about the same for Shamrock. Referee "Big" John McCarthy brings the pari to the center. Diaz talking smack. Shamrock smiles, shakes his head no to a touch of the gloves, and backs to his corner.
Round 1 - The round begins with a slow opening, before Diaz catches a kick and puts Shamrock on his back. He passes to side-control.
Shamrock recaptures half-guard, but Diaz passes as if he's dealing with a white belt. Many have Shamrock's skills are outdated. We may soon learn the answer to that.
Frank explodes up, they're in the center now. How many times can Frank use his physical gifts without making a fight-costing mistake?
Diaz is still talking to Frank, who offers a punch and kick the kid from Stockton, Calif.
Thus far, the most offensive output from Diaz has from his mouth. A slip, however, sees Diaz on the ground. Mount. Shamrock is taking punches and smiling. The round ends and they jaw at each other. A show for the crowd, which loudly voices its approval. Opening period goes for the younger fighter, 10-9
Frank can't match Diaz from the outside. He's pushing punches while Diaz looks very comfortable. The floor would seem to be a problem area for the former UFc champion.
Round 2 - The round begins and Diaz's mouth continues.
Diaz has increased his output, and a nice straight left connects from the southpaw.
Shamrock hasn't mounted much of anything. He's winging punches and appears to be having a really tough time figuring out a proper range from which to attack. Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch from Diaz, annoying as gnat.
Frank looks a bit lost now. His back to the cage fence, Diaz is taunting and striking at the same time. Good bpunches from Diaz now. Shamrock's nose is bloody. He's wining punches. A beautiful right hook to the body drops Shamrock, and he's taking heavy shots. It's a matter of time before this thing is called ... and there it is. McCarthy steps in. A resounding performance from Diaz, showing there's plenty of fight left in him. A different story for Shamrock, who was battered and beaten -- verbally physically.
There would appear to be little left for Shamrock, whose skills aren't on par with today's fighters. There was some talk pre-fight that he had hurt his ribs, or torn an oblique muscle. Even if that either scenario turns out to be the case, it probably wouldn't have mattered against Diaz, who took the win at 3:57 of Round 2.
Main Card:-Nick Diaz def. Frank Shamrock by TKO at 3:57, R2 -Gilbert Melendez def. Rodrigo Damm by KO at 2:02, R2-Scott Smith def. Benji Radach by KO at 3:24, R3-Cris "Cyborg" Santos def. Hitomi Akano by TKO at 0:35, R3-Brett Rogers def. Ron Humphrey by TKO at 0:30, R2
Preliminary Card:-Luke Rockhold def. Buck Meredith by Submission (Side Choke) at 4:07, R1-Eric Lawson def. Waylon Kennell by TKO at 4:54, R1-Raul Castillo def. Brandon Michales by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:45, R1-James Terry def. Zac Bucia by Unanimous Decision (30-27 on all three cards) -Shingo Kohara def. Jeremy Tavares by KO 0:04, R2