This Saturday, live from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California, the first major Strikeforce production under the Zuffa umbrella will take place. Headlined by not one, but two, title fights and featuring some of the biggest names in the company, Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley is finalized and will go down in just over 48 hours. After a few fights had been scrapped and shuffled around, let’s take a look at the final card and break it down.
The opening bout of the broadcasted portion is a Lightweight bout between Shinya Aoki (26-5-1) and Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm (16-1). Although Beerbohm’s nickname is “Fancy Pants”, Aoki is actually more well-known for his vibrant, neon grappling pants that he wears over in Japan. Since his loss to Gilbert Melendez last April, Aoki has put together a three-fight win streak, with two of those fights ending via submission. Beerbohm is coming off his first career loss (amateur and pro) and sounds like he is more motivated than ever to step back in the cage and get back on the winning track. With both men being great grapplers, the striking aspect could very well make the difference in determining the winner.
The next bout on deck features former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi (30-3-1) as he takes on “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (17-9-1) in his Strikeforce debut. Since he lost his championship to “King” Mo Lawal last April, Mousasi has picked up back-to-back wins with DREAM over in Japan. Jardine, is also riding a two-fight win streak for the first time since 2006. Coming into this fight, many have begun saying that it is basically a tune-up fight for Mousasi and that Jardine doesn’t stand a chance. As is the norm with MMA, anything can happen and Jardine may not be as big of an underdog as many are making it seem. With both men having backgrounds in kickboxing, this fight could turn into an exciting stand up fight that is sure to get the crowd pumped.
The Co-Main Event, and first title fight, is for the Lightweight Championship and Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (18-2) will defend his belt against Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (27-6-2). Following his successful title defense against Shinya Aoki last April, Melendez took some time off to heal a broken hand and to spend time with his girlfriend and new daughter. Now, he is back and ready to try to put on a repeat performance against Kawajiri. With over twenty knockouts between the two of them, the possibility is very high that this fight won’t go the distance.
The Main Event, and second title fight of the evening is a Welterweight bout that has Nick Diaz (24-7-1) defending his championship against Paul “Semtex” Daley (27-9-2). In one of the most highly anticipated Strikeforce Welterweight fights in history, both men will step into the cage with one mission, to leave the arena with Championship gold around their waist. Daley has some of the most powerful punches in the division and Diaz can take punches like no other. In his past fights, Diaz has taken numerous shots to the jaw and appeared to have no ill effects. However, if he takes too many shots from Semtex, he could be leaving San Diego without his belt. Although he is a BJJ Purple Belt, Daley has been submitted before, and if anybody can submit him again, it’s Nick Diaz. Even though they have not talked about their game plans too much publicly, everybody knows that Daley is probably going to try to knock Diaz’ head off, and Diaz is probably going to look to take it to the ground and work for a submission. You can’t forget, though, that Diaz is an excellent boxer with a big ego so he just might try test his hands and his chin against Daley. The only thing that is for sure is that these two never put on a dull performance and there will definitely be fireworks when they are locked inside the cage with one another.
Coincidentally, one man from each of the four televised bouts participated in the CBS card that took place in Nashville, Tennessee last April.
Originally, the second half of the first round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix was scheduled to take place on this card, but was later moved back. Also, KJ Noons and Mike Kyle were supposed to be on this card, but were later removed. Now, after the changes that had to be made were complete, this card is shaped up to be a very exciting card from start to finish. The only way to catch all of the action is to tune into Showtime at 10 PM ET for East Coast fans and 7PM PT for the West Coast fans that have satellite. If you are on the West Coast and do not have satellite, you have to wait until 10PM PT to catch the replay/tape delay of the event.
As always, make sure to join us in the MMA Valor chatroom to talk about the fights as they go down.
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