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Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley Preview

By on April 9, 2011

Shortly here, Strikeforce will promote their first major event since Zuffa purchased them recently, as Nick Diaz will take on Paul Daley in a welterweight title defense. Meanwhile, plenty of other quality action will be on display as five or six top ten fighters will be in action in Strikeforce’s four televised bouts, depending on your rankings. Here are my thoughts on tonight’s fights.

Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm

Aoki will try to redeem himself on U.S. soil after his last appearance against Gil Melendez yielded nothing but frustration. Beerbohm should be a better matchup for him, but still could prove troubling if the recently-beaten American can fight a smart fight and avoid getting on the mat.

Many have favored Beerbohm in the striking, but I think Aoki would do okay in a standup battle with “Fancy Pants”. He uses his kicks well enough and though he has a suspect chin, Beerbohm isn’t exactly a powerhouse. Furthermore, if the fight does hit the mat, Beerbohm should be in big trouble. Aoki is simply a different type of grappler, and all of Beerbohm’s past performances on the mat will mean little should this one hit the floor.

I think Aoki will eventually take the fight to the mat by any means, whether he has to pull guard, work a trip from the clinch, or take a desperation single-leg. Beerbohm could pull off the win if he can just close the distance standing for combinations and then move safely out of range, but it’s hard not to favor the fighter who can end the fight at a moment’s notice.

Prediction: Aoki by submission

Keith Jardine vs. Gegard Mousasi

Jardine makes his Strikeforce debut against Mousasi, who is making his own first appearance in the Strikeforce cage in quite awhile. This fight will quite likely go down much as you expect; Jardine will mix up his combinations and give Mousasi a lot of different (and awkward) looks in an attempt to score points and keep his foe off-balance. Meanwhile, Mousasi will look for openings and quickly strike to end the fight when possible.

On the mat, I would favor Mousasi, though Jardine’s ground game is quite sturdy itself. Jardine has decent top control and is okay off his back in most situations. It’s in the standup where he has to be careful, as his chin can hold up to a good shot or so, but a succession of quick shots is big trouble for “The Dean of Mean”. That’s just how Mousasi likes to strike, as he’s a technically savvy fighter who focuses on exposing mistakes and striking quickly and accurately to exploit them.

I’ve always liked Jardine and it’s easy to hope that he gets back on track here, but Mousasi is a tough draw, especially on short notice. Jardine will fight hard as always, but will fall short here.

Prediction: Mousasi by KO/TKO

Strikeforce Lightweight Championship Bout
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri

I’m excited for this fight, as Kawajiri is a very good test for Melendez and one of the best, if not the best, non-UFC/Bellator matchup available to him at this point. Kawajiri is strong in all areas, just like Melendez, and is an extremely tough fighter to break. Melendez, meanwhile, is similarly well-rounded and has cardio for days. That should be one of his biggest edges in this fight.

It’s hard for me to imagine either fighter finishing this one early, though anything can happen in this sport, as we all know by now. It’s far more likely that the early round will be a respectful one, with either fighter taking it by a slim margin. In the middle rounds, Melendez should focus on wearing his opponent down, as Kawajiri’s not known for having cardio on the level that Gilbert does. I think Melendez takes the later rounds because of that fact, should it go that far.

Also, Melendez is just a little bit better in every area. If Melendez is at his best, it will be hard for Kawajiri to come out on top in any exchange, clinch or scramble. Add the fact that Melendez is more motivated than ever now that he has a potential for a UFC career in the not too distant future, and this should be a great fight that will eventually go to Melendez.

Prediction: Melendez by decision

Strikeforce Welterweight Championship Bout
Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley

Diaz will face another intriguing challenge with slugger Paul Daley, who has looked good in his post-UFC career, though he still has the same glaring, obvious Achilles’ heel that he’s always had. The thing is, I am fairly sure that Diaz will test himself at length standing up against Daley, and I think he will fare pretty well in doing so.

I’ve talked in the past about how I think Diaz is a much better striker than he’s given credit for. For some reason, whether it’s his signature style or the fact that he doesn’t have one-punch KO power, people don’t view him as a high-level striker. Look at his performances against other supposedly strong strikers, though, and a different perception presents itself.

Diaz’s length can frustrate if Daley if used correctly, and you can count on Diaz fighting intelligently. He’ll jab Daley and stay out of trouble as much as possible, though Daley can always make up the ground quickly with a powerful shot and hurt the champ. However, Daley has often struggled against opponents who use their reach well, and Diaz has stifled many good strikers with his high-volume, multiple-angle approach. I’d love to see how he matches up with Daley standing up tonight.

Of course, if Daley does tag Diaz or overextends himself (which he may have to do to get into range with his punches of choice, which are usually hooks), Diaz will look for the takedown. Here, the fight becomes very one-sided and much less compelling. In fact, if Daley doesn’t get the KO somehow in the first or second round, he will likely just end up wearing down and getting finished on the mat at some point. Daley simply only has one way to finish this fight, and how many times have you seen Diaz get KO’ed? Daley by KO simply isn’t a high-percentage pick. Instead, look for Daley to be frustrated and either worn down with punches or submitted.

Prediction: Diaz by submission

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1 comment
  1. Mick Miller says:

    Someone help me out!

    Is it just me or do the Brits, ie; Bisping, Hardy, Daley all seem to be delusional about their skills and their opponents. I am not saying all Brit fighters, Ross Pearson comes to mind as a
    respectable hard working guy. He never talks near the smack that these others do and he presents himself as a professional.

    Bisping said Henderson was too old. Hardy said GSP didin’t have a chance and Daley bragged about being a knock-out artist who was going to put Nick Diaz to sleep.

    I for one am pretty fed up with the attitudes of a collective bunch of hoodlums who never perform close to the level their shit-talk rises to. Bad manners, annoying, egotistical, self-serving and cheating is their calling card. Read what Jake Shields had to say about Daley’s fish-hooking and gouging.

    To say I have no regard for these particular three fighters is being very nice. With Bisping on the sidelines after his blatant illegal knee to Rivera. Hardy sent packing to Strikeforce and his UFC contract being dumped after three losses in a row. Daley eating crow and whining as I write this post about how he “wasn’t done” when the ref stopped the fight. All this makes for a well rounded summary of them being caught and called out on exactly what they deserve.

    Dana gave Daley the highest respect because he said he and Diaz “went to war”.
    Well Dana in keeping with your ever diplomatic responses and desire to do what you can to promote the UFC and now Strikeforce in Great Britain and around the world you have done well. BS as it really is. It is the BS you have to spew to maintain.

    Great beat-down for Nick Diaz. The guy may be somewhat off center in talking with him but he is always dead on in the cage.

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