Like us to subscribe
The main event of the Showtime broadcast of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley is the welterweight title fight between Nick Diaz and Paul Daley. This is the most highly-ranked opponent Diaz has faced in some time and it's one that poses stylistic problems. Daley is coming into this bout with a nice win over Yuya Shirai, but with issues with new management: Zuffa, Inc. Both refused to make derogatory statements of each other heading into the bout only to have something of an explosion at yesterday's weigh-ins.
BloodyElbow.com asks if Nick Diaz will stand with Paul Daley:
It probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to do, but I think he will. We've seen Diaz stand with Scott Smith (albeit a half-dead one) and K.J. Noons and have success. But as the old saying goes: If you play with fire for too long, you'll get burned. Things heated up yesterday at the weigh-in and I expect these two to get right down to business. Diaz really needs to frustrate Daley on the feet and take him out of his game. Then when Daley gets wild, he needs to step in and take him down. Diaz has a decided advantage on the ground and needs to make the most if it in this fight. With this being the new Strikeforce, every fight is taking on added importance. If Diaz comes up with a big win here, his stock will go up significantly. We'll see what he decides to do.
If they do, here's how Leland Roling belives things will play out:
Daley's incredible striking power, solid Muay Thai base, and improving takedown defense combine to create a tough task for Nick Diaz. While Diaz is perceived as an immortal who possesses an invincible chin, an endless gas tank, and a constant supply of punches, his weaknesses play heavily into Daley's strengths. Diaz does not possess great takedowns. In fact, it may be one of his worst attributes as a fighter, utilizing a weak clinch game to try to dump his opponents. The perception that Daley's takedown defense is terrible is a tired argument, mostly coming from fans who haven't watched Daley progress. Daley has the strength to take advantage of those weaknesses and avoid the ground game, at least in the early rounds.
Furthermore, Diaz isn't a genius stand-up fighter. He tends to rely on his toughness and durability to get him through any adversity he meets inside the cage. And by toughness, I mean, he relies heavily on his chin to keep him conscious. Unfortunately, Paul Daley might be the most powerful puncher in the division, housing the ability to flip the light switch on an opponent's consciousness in a heartbeat. That won't bode well for a gameplan that focuses solely on Diaz relying on head movement and peppering counter-striking while he stands toe-to-toe with Daley.
On the other end of the table, Diaz has all of the other categories on lock down. He's a far superior grappler, a highly-conditioned athlete, and a flat out winner. His boxing is far more technical than most of the competition in the division, and he's likely the better combination thrower in this contest. If Daley can't finish this fight inside the first two rounds, Nick Diaz wins this fight in the later rounds. It's difficult to believe Daley can limp his way to the scorecards against a guy who runs triathlons regularly.
I've been flip-flopping in my thoughts on how this fight will go down since the predictions were posted here at BloodyElbow.com. My initial prediction was set on Daley defeating Diaz, mainly due to Daley's striking prowess and speed. Diaz is rather lackadaisical in his approach, and Daley could take full advantage quickly. On the other side of the hat however, Diaz will most assuredly win this fight if it goes past the second round. So, the question becomes whether Daley can make it that far. I'll risk it. I'll go with Daley via TKO.
I disagree. Roling correctly diagnosis the problem with Diaz's striking, but that's neither here nor there. Diaz's game is predicated on taking punishment. Moreover, his athleticism benefits the fighter who lasts longer. Given his toughness and particular athletic make-up, this is a fight I expect Diaz to win late. Daley has to hurt Diaz standing, but will have to make difficult choices following up to the ground. And his gas tank has never been exceptional. Given that Diaz can take the fight late and Daley will struggle there, I think this is Diaz's fight to lose.
My prediction: Diaz by submission.
The co-main event of the Showtime broadcast of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley is a lightweight title bout between champion Gilbert Melendez and challenger Tatsuya Kawajiri. This is a rematch from there 2006 PRIDE bout where Melendez barely edged out Kawajiri in a thrilling fight. Both fighters have wins over Josh Thomson, although Shinya Aoki crushed Kawajiri while Melendez routed Aoki.
The questions going into this one are: is Melendez ready for UFC competition? Can he even fight there? If he aces this bout against Kawajiri, what's left for him in Strikeforce?
I want to see a competitive fight here, but I think Melendez is really going to roll. Think about this: Melendez, one of the best lightweights in the world, hasn't fought in 51 weeks. Fifty-one weeks! That makes me incredibly sad because he is, like Mousasi, a special talent. He's coming off dominant performances against Josh Thomson and Aoki and is really hitting his stride. Kawajiri is no pushover, don't get me wrong, but I think Melendez, with the camp he's been in (with Jake Shields, Nick Diaz and Nate Diaz all getting ready to go at the same time), is going to have a distinct advantage here. Kawajiri, to his credit, is coming off a very good win over Thomson, but I see Melendez neutralizing him for the most part, winning a decision.
At Pride Shockwave in 2006, Cesar Gracie product Gilbert Melendez (18-2) vaulted into the spotlight by upsetting overseas standout Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-6-2) in an all-out dogfight. The decision for Melendez was unanimous to the judges, but not to all fans, as some found controversy in the outcome of veteran versus newcomer.
Everyone can at least agree that it was a light-speed, back-and-forth, barn burning brawl, and there's no reason why the rematch -- scheduled as the appetizer to the "Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley" main course -- shouldn't be just as entertaining. Both have worked diligently to distinguish themselves with the rare honor of being top-ranked lightweights outside of the UFC, and the only prediction I feel confident in is that sparks will fly in this one.
The Rules: The gist of Kawajiri's career took place in Shooto, Pride, and DREAM, where he freely bombarded knees to sprawling opponents in any position. Not only is this a crucial weapon in his arsenal that's become ingrained into his instincts through years of fighting, but transitioning to divergent guidelines can be mentally taxing, especially in the heat of battle.
Ring vs. Cage: I don't even want to touch the pros and cons of this debate, but I believe the ninety-degree angle corners and smaller square footage of the ring facilitated Kawajiri's clinch and grappling, and the open space in the cage will favor Melendez's newly enhanced elusive style much more.
The Balance: These two competitors are so similar and well-rounded in all aspects that even where one has a slight advantage, the other seems to hold an equalizing property.
Sparing the Blah, Blah: Rather than place unnecessary worth in the following speculation, my best suggestion is to go back and watch their first encounter, understand that these two are extremely evenly matched, soak in the broad range of martial arts technique they integrate so fluently, and hope we're treated to the same display.
I see this fight going similarly to the first, but with Melendez winning with more ease this time. Whereas his striking was loose and unrefined before, now it's become purpose-driven and significantly cleaner.
Kawajiri has a top-level wrestling game, but it's a basic game, too. Those basics are incredibly tight and hugely effective, but it's Melendez's adaptability along with his preparedness that will be the difference.
Should be one hell of a scrap either way.
My prediction: Melendez by TKO.
The second bout on the Showtime broadcast of the Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley card is a light heavyweight non-title clash between former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi and former UFC contender Keith Jardine. Jardine enters this fight as a late replacement for Mike Kyle. He's on a two-fight win streak after dropping five straight fights, albeit all of them against tough opposition. Mousasi enters this bout with wins over Jake O'Brien and Tatsuya Mizuno after losing his belt to Muhammed Lawal.
Most have dismissed Jardine as an afterthought. More on that later, so here are the questions facing Mousasi who is in something just short of a must-win position:
A year ago at this time, Gegard Mousasi was the next big thing in the world of mixed martial arts. Then he lost his title to Muhammed Lawal and spent the rest of 2010 competing in an absolutely worthless DREAM Light-Heavyweight Grand Prix, where he beat Jake O'Brien (who absolutely should not have been fighting) and Tatsuya Mizuno. At 30-3-1 in his career and still only 25-years old, Mousasi has a ton of time left, but needs to start fighting more relevant fights. He still is a special talent in my mind, but it's time for him to get going and really take fighting in Strikeforce seriously. This fight here against Keith Jardine will be a real interesting test to see where Mousasi's at. If he comes out and dominates, I'd like to see him in a big fight in the near future.
There are multiple dimensions to the game, but here's how the two stack up in the most important phase: the striking. To wit:
Jardine's awkward and inelegant striking is well-documented. His angles and timing are off-tempo and unusual enough to make him a wild card to both send and receive unexpected punches.
In an uncommon medley, Jardine throws wide loopers and paws at weird trajectories while incorporating straight punches. Instead of employing the more traditional stance with linear strikes, Jardine jumbles up his footwork and swats with both hands in circular flurries like an alley cat rearing up on his hind legs.
This is more of a compliment than a critique, as integrating the conventional style of hooks, uppercuts, jabs and crosses in conjunction with his unique style makes him a tough nut to crack -- especially for counter-strikers. He's got a nice one-two and keeps his right hand cocked by his chin, but his left hand always wanders down and leaves a gap. His leg kicks are fierce and his "bread and butter" technique that he fires effectively and often, and he also uses it as a tool to control distance. This forces his opponent to either disengage and stay well beyond their perimeter, or move in close enough to counter-punch and deal intimately with his curious angles and rhythm.
Mousasi is one of those guys who makes things look easy, and his boxing is the best example. He's not flashy in any way; just a textbook fundamentalist. Picture-perfect footwork and overall punching technique are delivered in crisp combinations with smooth head movement, all from a balanced stance and nearly impenetrable guard. Though his hands make up most of his offense, he throws kicks to all levels, snapping off a formidable high kick on occasion.
He has just the clean style of quick left hook and brutal uppercut that Jardine has walked into before. His hands are lightning fast and accurate as hell. I can't even recall Mousasi being dazed by strikes in any of his fights, and since two subs and one decision account for his only losses, I'd put his chin on a fairly bulletproof level.
Considering his impeccable technique, heavy hands, and past performances in kickboxing and MMA, Jardine's abnormal style might score a few times unexpectedly, but he should be seriously out-matched standing.
None of this analysis is incorrect per se. I'm going to go out on a limb, though, and pick Jardine. My reasoning is pretty simple. Yes, Jardine's ability to take punishment is severely compromised. But even in the fights he lost, he won rounds. He nearly defeated Quinton Jackson before that third round disaster. Jardine's defense is porous, but his rhythm is different and Mousasi is a slow starter. Hell, he's a slow third-round fighter. He often fights at the meter set by his opposition. If he lets Jardine do that, he's going to lose a round or two or even the entire fight.
And the strength of schedule could not be more different. Mousasi is talented, but hasn't fought even close to the level of competition Keith Jardine has. That experience provided with a brief respite from hard action and a fighter who isn't aggressive enough, generally, to make Jardine pay by cornering him and making him exchange is a fighter who is ripe for an upset.
My prediction: Keith Jardine by split decision.
The first fight on the Showtime main card of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley is a lightweight tilt between Japanese grappler Shinya Aoki and American wrestler/scrambler Lyle Beerbohm. This is Aoki's second fight in Strikeforce, the first being a five-round drubbing at the hands of current champion Gilbert Melendez. He's coming in off a loss to Yuichiro Nagashima at New Year's Eve. Beerbohm is a gritty wrestler who loves the scramble. He's coming into this bout off of his first loss against veteran Pat Healy.
Here's how BloodyElbow.com positioned the question of what this match will tell us about Aoki:
This is a real tough one because the only evidence we have of Aoki in America was the thrashing Gilbert Melendez gave him a year ago. The fact of the matter is this: We really won't have anymore evidence on this one if Aoki wins because he is being given an opponent in Lyle Beerbohm who is tailor made for him. Beerbohm likely won't be a big threat on the feet to Aoki and will play right into his strengths on the ground. If Aoki loses this fight, though, that's some real bad news and you'd have to seriously question what he'd be able to accomplish in the cage and in America going forward. A loss to Beerbohm would be absolutely devastating to Aoki's career. I think when this fight is done, if Aoki wins, the jury is still going to be out on his upward mobility in America but we should at least get a feel for where he stands.
In terms of how they stack up, look for this:
The betting lines placing Aoki at just over -200 and Beerbohm slightly below +200 seem about right. Just as Aoki is known for eating top-players for lunch, Beerbohm started to turn heads for quickly rising to prominence as a phenomenal offensive wrestler, which makes this a very dynamic collision ... but Aoki has further cemented his status as an elite lightweight and a stellar grappler.
Beerbohm is a self-professed "black belt in scrambling" and definitely has the tools to upset Aoki, but the real test will be his fight-IQ and how well he can devise and adhere to a strategy. Aoki's unorthodox techniques might catch him totally off guard, or he might be able to carefully test the waters and get more confident as time ticks on. His chances increase later in the fight when the sweat is flowing, which makes submissions harder to latch and elbows and strikes easier to slip through.
Though a Beerbohm TKO or close decision wouldn't shock me, the odds favor Aoki to out-position him if he can't affix a sub.
On the Sherdog roundtable I stated Beerbohm's scrambling - even when it compromises him positionally - is a style of fighting where he feels comfortable. He likes the speed chess aspect of grappling and has enough skill to generally keep himself out of deep, deep trouble. But while Pay Healy is a good grappler, he doesn't have the vice-line control of Aoki. Stated plainly, Aoki's a different level of competitor. Beerbohm's skilled enough to keep himself for being put away early, but ultimately he'll go the well one too many times. Aoki will find a dominant position, hold it, and either score a huge number of points or finish the fight there.
My prediction: Aoki by submission.
This Saturday, April 9th, at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime Strikeforce's first major event under UFC control and Zuffa ownership takes place at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. Fans and experts widely agree this event is not only hotly anticipated, it's arguably Strikeforce's top event ever. In some ways It's hard to understand this criticism. This event was put together after the second quarterfinal stage of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix was moved to June. Saturday's show is very much a replacement event.
Still, the fights are all meaningful and two titles are up grabs. Gilbert Melendez will put his lightweight title on the line against Tatsuya Kawajiri. This fight represents the second meeting of these two, the first taking place in 2006. Nick Diaz is also putting his title up for grabs as he will defend his welterweight crown against Paul Daley in the main event. Diaz and Daley have never faced one another.
SB Nation MMA will bring a fight-by-fight breakdown each day up until the event. That includes style match-ups, experts early takes, fan interest and every other conceivable angle.
For more, follow Luke Thomas on Twitter: @MMANation.
We'll email you a reset link.
If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
Choose an available username to complete sign up.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.