Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos celebrates his win: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Renato “Babalu” Sobral: Fought his smartest fight to date against a dangerous slugger en route to a unanimous decision nod. It wasn’t pretty at times, but a solid game plan of kicking at the legs and body of the defensively challenged Robbie Lawler proved to be a fruitful and effective tactic. His only bad move was challenging Dan Henderson in his post-fight in-cage interview. Following his embarrassing blowout loss to Jake Shields, you can be sure that you’ll see a different Hendo that “Babalu” wants no part of.
Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos: Counterpunched his way to a big fight at 170 pounds. Has the Brazilian found a home at welterweight?
Tim Kennedy: Wow. The military sniper showed he is as proficient on the floor as he is with an issued Remington 700. Kennedy’s name is currently an afterthought when thinking of Jake Shields’ (highly likely) successor as Strikeforce middleweight champion, but that could change with another performance like he had on Wednesday.
K.J. Noons: Is there a cleaner puncher in MMA? I think not. Nobody in this sport throws a three-piece and a biscuit like the former Pride talent search winner. Noons has looked a little soft around the middle in his two bouts since returning to the sport, and his cardio has suffered. Still, this is the same man that carved up and simply outclassed Nick Diaz in 2007. If Noons can get his conditioning back to his pre-boxing career level, the San Diego resident can make a case for being one of the best lightweights outside of the UFC.
Robbie Lawler: Lawler is just one Hail Mary (Melvin Manhoef) removed from a three-fight losing streak, and he looked even more one-dimensional than usual. Will the hard-hitting Iowan ever evolve into a next generation mixed martial artist?
Marius Zaromskis: Two consecutive high-profile pummelings in the States and an exposed chin. Enough said.
Trevor Prangley: Was caught by an up-and-coming fighter. It happens. Prangley is still a middleweight that can compete with prospects within the division.
Conor Heun: The BJJ black belt held his own at times on the feet with Noons, but he failed to follow up on his first-round success on the floor in the second frame. Heun attempted to return to his roots in the final stanza, but fatigue, his opponent’s tight boxing and takedown defense was too much to overcome.