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Nick Diaz, Jacare Souza hold onto Strikeforce titles

Herschel Walker wins by first-round TKO

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nick Diaz, top, punches Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, from Brazil, in the second round of a Strikeforce Welterweight Championship mixed martial arts fight in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Diaz won by submission in the second round to retain his championship.

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Former NFL football player Herschel Walker prepares to fight Scott Carson in the first round of a Strikeforce heavyweight mixed martial arts fight in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Walker won by technical knock out in the first round.

Neither of the two belts on the line at Saturday’s Strikeforce card in San Jose, Calif., switched hands.

Nick Diaz defended his welterweight title with a second-round submission of Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza defeated Robbie Lawler via submission in the third round of their middleweight championship bout.

“I came prepared for anything,” Souza said in his octagon interview after the victory. “I have a great coach, great friends and great training partners. I feel great now.”

Lawler appeared to have Souza in trouble in the first round of the co-Main Event when he landed a right hook and sent the champion to the mat. But Souza recovered and was able to keep the fight almost totally on the ground, where his superior jiu-jitsu skills proved to be the difference with a rear naked choke at the two-minute mark of the third round.

The challenger in the Main Event also posed a problem for the champion. Santos landed a series of inside leg kicks to hurt Diaz through the first nine minutes.

“I should have checked those kicks a little better,” Diaz said after the fight. “But I settled down and started to figure it out a little bit.”

When Diaz wanted to be in control, he was. He finished off the first round by landing a few combinations that had Santos wobbling to his corner.

Santos went for a takedown near the end of the second round, which proved to be his undoing. Diaz, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, got Santos in an armbar and forced him to tap out within 20 seconds of the fight going to the ground.

“I figured I’d put pressure so he had to do something,” Diaz said. “He’d have to take more punches or take me down.”

“I respect the way he fights. He doesn’t play around.”

Diaz has now won nine fights in a row. Also on the Main Card, 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker won his second MMA fight.

Walker defeated Scott Carson by TKO at the 3:13 mark in the first round. Carson landed a kick to 48-year-old’s head early, but Walker responded by yelling and swarming his opponent.

Walker took Carson to the ground twice and gave him no chance to establish anything.

“I’ve been saying I have to be on offense,” Walker said. “Being a young MMA fighter, I have to control what I’m doing in the cage.”

On the only other televised fight of the night, Roger Gracie improved to 4-0 in his MMA career by submitting Trevor Prangley via rear naked choke at 4:19 in the first round.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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