This Saturday, Stockton badboy Nick Diaz defends his Strikeforce welterweight title against British powerhouse Paul Daley, live on Showtime at 10 pm ET. The card features some of the best talent outside of the UFC (although technically they now belong to them) and the matches are highly intriguing. Two titles are on the line, the aforementioned Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley bout, and Gilbert Melendez will defend his lightweight title against Tatsuya Kawajiri. Also on the card, Gegard Mousasi takes on a solid test in UFC veteran Keith Jardine, and Japanese submission ace Shinya Aoki looks to impress against Lyle Beerbohm. If the card alone isn't enough for you, we're here to break down why the main event is worth going out of your way to watch.
Simply put, this isn't your average title fight. Unlike the UFC's welterweight division, Strikeforce's welterweight crown is held by one of the biggest punchers in the sport today, Nick Diaz. To get a grasp of the volume of punches Diaz throws, according to Fight Metric, he threw a total of 410 strikes (at striking distance) in his welterweight title defense against KJ Noons. That's 16.4 strikes a minute. Not bad at all by MMA standards. Diaz isn't known for his power though, he relies more on amassing damage through quick, and visually "light" punches. Don't sleep on his power though, or you may find yourself sawing logs face down on the mat...
After the jump, Robbie Lawler serves as a visual example, and we discuss Paul Daley, and some out-of-the-cage factors of this main event as well.
Diaz is a formidable opponent for any man when standing toe to toe, but he is also a BJJ black belt, and is more than willing to submit his opponents if they leave him the opportunity. In fact, in his last title defense against Evangelista Santos, a stand up affair was quickly ended when "Cyborg" chose to play around in Diaz's guard, and quickly found himself tapping. It should go without saying, Nick Diaz is one of the best fighter's not featured in the UFC, and against a fellow UFC veteran in Paul Daley, Diaz is presented with a grand opportunity to prove that he can handle a high quality welterweight. Unfortunately for Diaz, Paul Daley isn't just a good fighter, he has a style that may prove problematic for him.
Paul Daley is the premier power punching boxer at welterweight, with a left hook that could bring down nearly any fighter in the division. Look no further than his last fight under the Strikeforce banner against the notoriously durable Scott Smith.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a beautiful left hook counter punch, and it's one of the biggest threats to Nick Diaz in this fight. If Diaz gets drawn into a stand up battle, him losing the title Saturday night becomes a very real possibility. Diaz isn't known for having strong take downs either, so even if he tries to play it smart and force Daley to fight on the ground, it's no guarantee that he'll be able to make that happen.
Also, a unique angle in this matchup is that both men aren't incredibly pleased with their situation in Strikeforce. Diaz spoke with MMA Weekly, and was incredibly blunt in telling him that he felt that the Strikeforce title was worthless now that Zuffa owns the promotion. Even further, Diaz went on to hint that he didn't hold the title in very high regard in the first place.
Paul Daley of course, had a falling out with Dana White and the UFC when he attacked Josh Koscheck after the final bell sounded at UFC 113. Daley wasn't shy, and openly shared his disdain for Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce, from his Facebook page (original post was removed):
Business as usual, what if i dont wanna fight for DANA WHITE/ZUFFA?......Dana white bans me for life from the UFC, Then buys STRIKEFORCE, and thinks im still gonna be EASY and fight on one of the most anticipated fights of the year (vs Diaz)? Which will no doubt make ZUFFA/Dana White money.
Daley vs Diaz still on?.....Someone better holla at my manager real quick.
This leaves us with some interesting questions. Will the loser jump ship? What stance will the winner take on being champion of a promotion he's not pleased with? Diaz may hold out for more money, Daley may just hold out. We don't know, yet. The wait is almost over though, and regardless of what happens after the dust settles, as a fight fan, I'm excited to see how the action plays out in the cage.
The main event isn't the lone attraction though, the entire card of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley is stacked with exciting fights that lead me to believe this event has potential to be one of the greatest events of the year. There is something for every fan on this card, superb grapplers, young stars looking to prove themselves, a great rematch, and of course, the Nick Diaz/Paul Daley shootout. Give it a watch tomorrow night, you'll not be disappointed.