By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz meets a very dangerous opponent this Saturday in Paul Daley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif. The always entertaining Diaz has won nine straight fights over the last three years, along the way capturing the Strikeforce title and defending it twice; and now he faces a man in Daley that he considers one of the best strikers in the division, even if he doesn’t see him as a well round opponent.
“I’d say [his striking ability is] probably better than anybody else than we’ve got fighting in MMA at 170, up there with K.J. Noons. As far as probably boxing goes, and stand-up striking skills,” Diaz said on a media conference call last week.
“I was asked before… about what I thought about Paul Daley, and I said I wasn’t overly impressed with his MMA skills, as far as [being] a well-rounded fighter is what I meant by that. And I gave sort of an analogy of how I thought that fight might go in my favor, if it were to go in my favor. And that’s pretty much all I had to say about that.”
Strikeforce has represented a good home for Diaz, as he’s been pushed as one of the organization’s top draws, and has gotten matchups that have all made for highly entertaining bouts. Diaz said that penchant for Strikeforce to put together those striker vs. striker type matchups, along with what were favorable rules with Strikeforce banning elbows on the ground, were things he enjoyed about the organization.
“Strikeforce, they’ve managed to put a lot of fights together with good stand-up fighters,” he said. “You don’t see so much of the wrestling. Even though it’s the same sport, it’s the same criteria – it’s more geared to the wrestler – but I think the mat’s faster in there and it’s more of a striker’s league. That’s kind of how it’s been.”
“I like [banning elbows on the ground] because it just reminds me of the way the Pride rules used to be. That’s the way mixed martial arts should be, because it favors mixed martial artists, and the more technical grappler and the more technical stand-up fighter. So it’s in favor of everybody except for maybe the wrestler or a stronger guy who’s going to [control you].”
Diaz doesn’t feel that elbows on the ground – which are now legal in Strikeforce with Zuffa purchasing the organization and implementing the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts – do anything but allow the top controlling fighter to avoid standups and open cuts on their opponent. For Diaz, that doesn’t constitute an entertaining path to victory.
“The elbows just kind of help it so that they’re not going to stand the fight up,” he said. “Because if a guy is holding you, then they’re like, ‘OK, we need to see some action.’ So then the guy doesn’t let go, he just throws those short elbows, dropping his forearms. That’s the only reason why I have a criticism towards the whole thing.
“And then it’s cutting me up, and I’m not getting paid as much as boxers are. And they’re not getting cut as much as me now, because I’m being elbowed by a less technical fighter. That’s not what you want to see. You want more entertainment in this sport. That’s what you want to see. So I’m just looking [out for] everybody’s best interest. But that’s just how I feel about all that.”
He likely won’t need to worry about the implementation of elbows in his bout with Daley, however, with both fighters looking to go toe-to-toe on Saturday night in San Diego. The fight airs live on Showtime.