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.