SUNRISE, Fla. -- In front of a subdued crowd that seemed more suited for Tokyo's cavernous stadiums than America's raucous arenas,
Saturday's main event at the BankAtlantic Center before 8,156 fans -- and preceded by
Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and former U.S. Olympic bobsledder, earned a victory in his pro debut. At 47, few outside of Walker's camp and promoter took his foray into the cage seriously. But unlike
Walker, whose purse went to charity, has not decided whether this is a one-time affair, but the former NFL All-Pro deserves credit for stepping into an unforgiving arena and making the most of it. The victory came at 2:17 of the third.
In the main event, Diaz, a UFC veteran who at the age of 26 is in his ninth year as a professional, made smart use of height and reach advantages against Zaromskis before referee
It was apparent from the opening exchange that Zaromskis, 29, was going to have a difficult time finding Diaz's chin. And considering he stepped into his U.S. debut facing a significant submission deficit against an innovative Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, it was imperative for the London-based welterweight to do his damage as Diaz stood in front of him.
Save one stiff right hand, things never materialized for Zaromskis (13-4) the way did in his last three fights, all high-kick knockout victories. Diaz, one of the best body punchers in MMA, pounded his challenger for the vacant Strikeforce 170-pound title, both to the head and gut with punches, moving beatifully and upping the combinations as the round wore on.
This was a mature Diaz, now 21-7, not the hot-headed kid from Stockton, Calif., that loved brawling for the sake of engaging in fisticuffs.
"He's a passionate fighter but uses his brain more and more each time," said the new champion's longtime training partner
"Diaz has ups and downs and people like to count him out," Melendez said. "But he knocks out Robbie Lawler, gogoplatas
In other bouts:
• Strikeforce promoter
While Coker works to secure an opponent for Diaz's first title defense, he may have a much more difficult time signing any female who can give
Santos (9-1) is unlike any women yet to compete in MMA. Her physicallity and brutishness, which she called gifts, seems impossible to overcome for competitors.
• In a highly anticipated middleweight fight,
Manhoef, one of the most vicious strikers in the sport, peppered Lawler with kicks to the southpaw's lead leg. The former EliteXC champion seemed out of his league on the feet as Manhoef (24-7) chased him around the cage -- then he unleashed a perfect overhand right that stopped the K-1 striker in his tracks.
"He would kick and look to finish with hands," said Lawler, now 19-5. "Most guys it's the opposite. He just did it one too many times. This was the biggest fight and best knockout of my career."
• Also one the card, heavyweight