WOW! I think we all had high hopes for “Strikeforce San Diego” but I’m not sure anyone expected what we saw for 4:57. Nick Diaz and Paul Daley acted like they didn’t like each other in the days leading up to the fight and on Saturday night they proved it. The big discussion after the fight was in regards to the timing of the stoppage. Should Referee “Big” John McCarthy have let the fight continue, instead of stopping it with just 3 seconds left. I can tell you right now what McCarthy will say…”My only concern is that of the fighter” and he is right, that should be his only concern.
In 1990 I was in Las Vegas for the first fight between Meldrick Taylor and Julio Cesar Chavez. It was a great fight that was stopped with just two seconds remaining. Referee Richard Steele got crushed by the media, because his stoppage prevented Taylor from handing Chavez his first loss. Steele said afterwards he had no idea who was winning the fight, and was only concerned about Taylor. Both of Taylor’s eyes were swollen when the fight was stopped so I accept Steele’s explanation.
Nobody mentions that idiot Lou Duva jumping up and down which distracted Taylor just long enough to miss Steele asking him twice “Are you OK?…Are you OK??” When Taylor didn’t respond to Steele the fight was called. Two seconds away from a career changing win. The fight game can be brutal.
I’m sure after watching the replay I will wonder if “Big” John did the right thing, but I hope that doesn’t take away from what was an amazing round. Diaz did just what we thought he would, taunting Daley from the opening bell. Sticking his chin out, trash talking, Diaz was in fine form. The difference this time was Daley has major power, and on two different occasions he was able to drop the champ. Unlike Scott Smith, Martin Kampmann and so many others before him, Diaz was able to get up. Diaz got up and kept firing punches until he was able to drop Daley. It was one of the most action packed fights I can remember in either boxing or MMA.
So what now? Starting with Diaz, the choices seem limited. Clinch Gear’s Tyron Woodley is in the office today. He seems like a logical next contender for Diaz’s belt, but maybe it makes more sense for Woodley to take one more fight before fighting for the title. “T-Wood” looked good sporting a shirt that said “I Got Next” while sitting ringside for the fight. I interviewed Tyron for a future podcast and he mentioned a possible fight with “Cyborg” Santos or Scott Smith first before fighting for the title near the end of the year. That is not a bad idea. As good as Woodley has looked, people forget he has only had eight pro fights. A fight with one of those two guys could be a perfect warm up for a fight as tough as Diaz. So what does Diaz do while waiting on Woodley? Take a vacation! If there was one constant message this week from Diaz it was simple…he feels he is over worked and underpaid. Take the next 6 months off Champ and enjoy the success you are having.
If I was the manager for Paul Daley I would get him back in the cage as soon as his 45 day suspension is over. The sand is flying in the Strikeforce hour glass right now, and if Daley wants to have any kind of career in the UFC driven US market, he needs a big win fast. I would pursue a matchup with Tarec Saffiedine. “The Sponge” is coming off a tough loss to Woodley and also needs a big win to get back in the public eye.
OR, I would ask for a fight with Woodley. If Daley was able to defeat Woodley it would force a rematch with Diaz. A rematch seems like a no-brainer, but don’t forget Dana White said Daley would “never fight in a UFC cage again” after Daley sucker punched Josh Koshcheck. White was in the first row Saturday night, and while he loved the fight, I’m not sure it was enough to change his mind. A convincing win over Woodley could be enough to cause White to rethink the ban on Daley.
All in all it was a great night and a great fight. There are a lot of questions in regards to the Welterweight division, and I guess for Strikeforce as a whole. Rumors were flying that this would be the last card for Scott Coker, and that former WEC boss Reed Harris will run Strikeforce moving forward. White was in attendance after saying he wouldn’t be seen at any Strikeforce cards. Showtime had a poll question asking the fans if they wanted to see fights between UFC and Strikeforce fighters. 96% answered yes. It just goes to show that a lot of things have not yet been worked out.
If I was a fighter (or employee) I would probably be a little nervous, but as a fan just the idea of super fights is enough to convince that Saturday night was just the beginning of what should be an amazing (and very interesting) year in MMA.
I do want to mention that Dan Henderson will be my guest on this week’s Clinch Gear Radio podcast talking about a possible fight with Fedor. The podcast is available starting Thursday at clinchgear.com/radio.