Strikeforce on Dec. 22 confirmed two title bouts to headline its Jan. 29 event in San Jose, Calif. Middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (13-2) will face Robbie Lawler (18-6), while 170-pound champ Nick Diaz (23-7) defends his belt against Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos 18-13). Diaz vs. Cyborg shouldn’t be a snoozer, but it seems like a letdown compared with the other available options for Diaz.
The best idea on paper would probably be a match-up against recent acquisition Paul Daley (26-9-2), a vicious striker with a so-so ground game but strong takedown defense. On the feet, Diaz might be susceptible to getting KO’d for the first time, but on the ground, he’d have Daley at his mercy. Plus, it’d be an opportunity for Strikeforce to put together a contest between two guys legitimately viewed as top-ten caliber fighters in the world.
Unfortunately, Daley is under the assumption he needs another win to build himself up in Strikeforce. It’s unusual, considering he’s one of the higher profile fighters on the entire roster and given his UFC stint and epically brutal knockout of Scott Smith on Dec. 4. And to top it off, the first guy for Daley to call out was K.J. Noons, a natural lightweight coming off of a decision loss to Diaz that took place entirely on the feet.
In case that all isn’t strange enough, Noons said nobody wants to see him knockout Daley because of Daley’s petulant after-the-bell punch on Josh Koscheck, and then Gilbert Melendez, Diaz’s lightweight teammate, told Bloodyelbow he’d love a shot at Daley. Welcome to bizarro world.
Lastly, there’s the never-ending post-fight, trash talk, water-bottle-throwing, don’t-be-scared-homie drama between Diaz and Jason “Mayhem” Miller. One of the promotions top middleweights, Miller has made it known he’d like to fight Diaz but can’t cut all the way to 170. Instead, he charitably offered to shave down a few extra pounds. Diaz and friends want to split the difference and do it at 178, saying it makes no sense for the champion to move all the way up a division. If both sides could either make the fight happen or keep quiet and stop accusing the other side of wussing out, that’d be super.
Another guy Daley mentioned he’d like to fight before Diaz? Cyborg. Too late, since apparently he’s getting the title shot. Cyborg has lost four out of five fights before dropping to 170 and only has one win under the Strikeforce banner. Full credit to him for at least he accepting the fight. But until Strikeforce can add more depth to its roster, its fighters aren’t doing it any favors by being so choosy.