It would appear that Strikeforce is operating business as usual.
Exciting fights? Check. Nick Diaz taunting his opponent from the opening bell? Check. A show checking in right around 90 minutes? Check. Mauro Ranallo's bad one liners? Check. Gus Johnson's clown makeup? Check and mate.
With two first round finishes and a gutsy performance from Keith Jardine, Strikeforce already had an entertaining show as it entered the main event between Nick Diaz and Paul Daley. Those two decided to put on one hell of an entertaining round.
Diaz jawed at Daley during John McCarthy's instructions, and continued his verbiage after the start of the fight. If there was any question as to what strategy Diaz would employ, he made it clear early on that he was not afraid to stand with Daley.
As the fight unfolded, it became clear that both men were capable of stopping the other. Diaz overwhelmed Daley with his high-volume style that has confounded Strikeforce opponents over the last few years. Midway through the round, however, Daley landed with a punch that put Diaz face first on the mat. Diaz claimed in the post-fight interview that he was in no danger, but that's not what the scene looked like to the viewing audience.
He recovered, however, and returned to dishing out a beating on Daley. With the round coming to a close, Diaz landed a multi-punch combination along the fence which hurt Daley. As they disengaged, Daley stumbled and found himself on his back. Replays showed no strike landing during the scramble; the accumulation of damage during the previous exchange having scrambled his brain.
Diaz pounced, landing punches from the standing position over Daley. John McCarthy stepped in to stop the bout with a mere three seconds remaining, and Daley appearing to have offered some resistance. A questionable decision from the veteran official, but a defensible stoppage, nonetheless.
- A few years ago, I would have described Nick Diaz's boxing as "pitter-patter." Over his last few fights, however, Diaz's punches now look damaging. If Diaz has added power to his volume striking, he's going to be a handful for most everyone at 170 pounds.
- It will be interesting to see if Daley's performance does anything to improve his relationship with Dana White and the UFC. Some people thought Daley would need a dominating victory over Diaz in order to maintain employment with Zuffa, but there's something to be said for his spirit in a losing effort.
- As I said before the fight, 23-year-old Gilbert Melendez beat 27-year-old Tatsuya Kawajiri in 2006. It should come as no surprise that a 28-year-old Melendez put a serious hurting on a 32-year-old Kawajiri. Melendez swarmed Kawajiri from the opening bell, and made a serious case for a UFC-Strikeforce title unification bout later in the year.
- Poor judging? Business as usual. I had Gegard Mousasi winning all three rounds of his fight with Keith Jardine, earning a 29-27 decision when factoring in the point deduction from the first round. Two judges scored the bout 28-28. Abe Belardo scored round round two for Jardine, while Lester Griffin awarded Jardine round one. I'll break down the numbers more in-depth tomorrow, but suffice to the FightMetric numbers indicate that both rounds are clear for Mousasi.
- If it wasn't obvious before, Lyle Beerbohm is in no position to compete at the top of the lightweight division.
- In non-Strikeforce news, Ben Askren put on a dominant performance against Nick Thompson over at Bellator 40. A glance at the comment section of the live blog for the fight uncovered the usual criticisms when a serious prospect is unable to finish a veteran fighter. The fact of the matter is that Askren did pretty much whatever he wanted to over the course of fifteen minutes. That's a positive no matter how you want to spin it.