In welterweight action, UFC veteran and Team Rough House fighter Paul Daley (25-9-2, 1-0 SF) aims to bring his explosive style of Muay Thai boxing to Strikeforce as he battles "The Comeback Kid" Scott Smith (17-7-0-1, 3-2 SF) in what is expected to a highly-entertaining, toe-to-toe slugfest. Daley enters this showdown on a two-fight win streak that includes an unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal in September and a third round TKO victory over Daniel Acacio in July. Previously, he crushed both Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett in bouts under the UFC banner, resulting in a quick ascension through the ranks and a showdown with Josh Koscheck. Koscheck defeated Daley via unanimous decision at UFC 113, earning himself the opportunity to coach opposite of Georges St. Pierre on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but Daley was released from the promotion following the loss due to a post-fight "sucker punch".
That slip in judgement hasn't faltered Daley's progression into becoming one of the elite welterweights in the world. He remains a student in the ground department, although he has showed that his abilities to regain his feet have continued to improve over the course of the last six months. Masvidal was able to put Daley on his back a few times, but he had little success in maintaining those positions as Daley quickly popped up to his feet.
It's doubtful that Daley will see a gameplan that involves takedowns from Scott Smith however. Smith, smartly nicknamed "Hands of Steel" and "The Comeback Kid" for his proven knockout power and tendency to come back from the brink of defeat, will be eying a knockout himself, and that clash in similar styles should produce fireworks. Unfortunately, Smith may be on the losing end in this fight, mainly due to the differences in how each fighter defends incoming shots.
Team Rough House, while lacking some of the high level ground training they need to succeed at the highest level, is one of the premier gyms in England when it comes to learning the intricate techniques of striking. Defense has always been a significant plus for their fighters, and almost every fighter on their roster maintains the rule that your chin must be protected at all times. With the exception of Dan Hardy being blasted by Carlos Condit, Team Rough House fighters have been successful in keeping their chins relatively unscathed while dishing out heavy punishment on their opponents.
Smith's ideal strategy is to counter strike and tag his opponents as they try to punch him out, and it's worked for the most part throughout his career. Unfortunately, Daley's power and compact style of power punching is going to shred through Smith's weak defense. Smith normally likes to sneak in the overhand over the top of his opponent's missing punches, but Daley realizes that a straight line is the quickest way to one point. Look for Daley to throw heavy one-two combinations down the pipe while mixing kicks into his offense. After a bit of seasoning, Daley will more than likely string together the same combinations with powerful overhands to down Smith, winning this one in spectacular fashion in the first frame.