“Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley” staff picks

Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley” takes place Saturday at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif., and features a main event welterweight title fight between Strikeforce 170-pound champion Nick Diaz and England’s Paul “Semtex” Daley.

Also, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will put his title on the line against Tatsuya Kawajiri, Gegard Mousasi will take on Keith Jardine, and Shinya Aoki returns to America to take on 155-pound rising star Lyle Beerbohm

The ( staff has come together to give their picks on the fights. “Diaz vs. Daley” will air LIVE on Showtime on Saturday, April 9, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker tries to keep things under control during the Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley staredown.

Nick Diaz (24-7, 1 NC) vs. Paul Daley (27-9-2)

ODDS: Nick Diaz -270 vs. Paul Daley +210


JACK BRATCHER: Diaz is going to stand toe-to-toe with Daley and beat him at his own game. I just think Diaz has the better boxing. I feel people still underestimate his boxing. His work rate is practically unmatched and he will just overwhelm Daley. And if Daley drops Diaz will finish him on the ground, but most of the fight will be on the feet where Diaz will prove the point once again that he can beat you at your own game. Diaz by TKO. WIN

JOHN BUHL: You can read a more detailed version of my breakdown on this fight here: “Why Nick Diaz won’t simply outclass Paul Daley“, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Daley. Diaz has a great chin, the ability to frustrate and wear down opponents with his boxing skills, and incredible Jiu Jitu. But his wrestling is kinda meh. Daley hits as hard or harder than anyone Diaz has faced and does so with a lot of accuracy. Also, for the first time in a long time, Diaz will have to worry about elbows and not having a reach advantage (he might even be at a disadvantage against the long-armed Daley). If Diaz can absorb punishment early and take it into the later rounds, I think he’ll wear Daley down and probably get a late stoppage, perhaps near the end of the third or the fourth round. But it’s not a given that it will get that far and I’m not afraid to look like an idiot. Paul Daley by second round TKO. LOSE

JOSH CROSS: As much as I’ve been impressed by Daley’s performance post-UFC, I just don’t see him beating Diaz in this fight. Diaz is tough, and as long as he watches out for Daley’s stand up I think he’ll be fine. My pick: Diaz def. Daley via submission in Round 3. WIN

KELVIN HUNT: Daley has a puncher’s chance and that’s it. Diaz has a granite chin…a reach advantage, he’s light years better on the ground. Diaz can win this fight wherever he wants to win it. The only thing Daley has going for him is that Diaz can fight on emotion sometimes…so it’s possible that Daley could try to talk him into a brawl. However, I see Diaz winning this fight rather easily. I’ll say Diaz via submission. WIN

RICHARD MANN: If all title fights were unlimited rounds like in ZST, Diaz might hold this title forever. His attrition style wears fighters down and is perfect for five-round fights. Daley can crack with the best of them. However, people act like he has never struggled with rangy fighters. Nick Thompson, a man known for having a weak chin, picked him apart of the feet. Diaz uses his reach well on the feet and might surprisingly win a striking battle. Also, the Stockton Samurai will have a distinct advantage on the floor. He might not have the best wrestling game, but Daley was taken down multiple times by Jorge Masvidal. Pick = Diaz. WIN

Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri

Gilbert Melendez (18-2) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-6-2)

ODDS: Gilbert Melendez -280 vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri +220

BRIAN FURBY: Gilbert Melendez. WIN

JACK BRATCHER: Gilbert Melendez should have little problem here. If Aoki couldn’t submit Melendez, no way in hell Kawajiri will. If it goes to the ground Melendez will use his wrestling to control and use ground and pound. Melendez should have the striking advantage here and I think he’ll be able to get the TKO as the fight wears on. WIN

JOHN BUHL: Melendez outworked Kawajiri once back in 2006, and I think it’s safe to say that Melendez is even better now. Kawajiri is still a tough match-up with his good wrestling, power, and solid striking. However, I think Melendez will find some way to get the win, whether it’s on the feet or on the mat. Simple as that. And for Kawajiri’s sake, I hope he was lying when he said he hadn’t really been training to adjust to fighting in a cage rather than a ring. That’d be a huge mistake. Melendez by decision. WIN

JOSH CROSS: Both Melendez and Kawajiri have improved since their last fight in 2006. I think that this fight should be even more back and forth than their last fight, which went to a decision. I still think Melendez is better and will control this fight like he did in the last one, but it still should be fun to watch. My Pick: Melendez def. Kawajiri via decision. WIN

KELVIN HUNT: Well..I’ve always thought Kawajiri’s style would benefit from fighting in a cage. Too bad he hasn’t trained in one going into this fight according to reports. I think Melendez has improved much more since they fought 5 years ago. Kawajiri is tough as nail though. Melendez via unanimous decision. WIN

RICHARD MANN: Hopefully Melendez does enough to deserve the decision, but Kawajiri wins since the Strikeforce champion got a highly questionable decision back in 2006. Everything in the universe should be so balanced. Kawajiri is what I like to call a “match-up fighter.” Against good grapplers, he can stay on his feet and strike. Against strikers, he can take them to the ground and grind out a decision. Melendez has worked hard to improve his defensive wrestling and striking game. Rarely do you see a fighter improve so much at late stage in their career. I expect Melendez to be quicker on the feet and land the better strikes. Kawajiri has never wanted to fight in the U.S. and with all the turmoil in Japan right now, who can blame him if his head is not in this fight. Pick = Melendez. WIN

Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm

Shinya Aoki (26-5, 1 NC) vs. Lyle Beerbohm (15-1)

ODDS: Shinya Aoki -270 vs. Lyle Beerbohm +210


JACK BRATCHER: I admire a couple of my cohorts here for having the cojones to pick Beerbohm. We saw what happened to Aoki against Melendez in his first Strikeforce fight. Beerbohm’s cage experience could be a big advantage if he uses the right game plan. He seems to have the reputation of being “unsubmittable” according to him. We will see after this fight. I’m going with Aoki via submission. WIN

JOHN BUHL: If you don’t think too hard about this fight, it’s easy to assume Aoki will get the submission at some point. He’s that good on the ground. But as good a fighter as he is, he doesn’t like getting bullied and beaten up. If Beerbohm can push him up on the fence, land some elbows, and rough him up, an upset could be in the making. Beerbohm is no slouch in the grappling realm at all, but since I’m calling my Hail Mary shot in the main event, I’m keeping it safe and going Aoki via second round submission. WIN

JOSH CROSS: Aoki is favored in this fight, but I feel that the pressure is off of Beerbohm following his last loss. While this is no easy fight for Beerbohm, I think that he will be able to survive and that he has a chance to pull off the upset. My Pick: Beerbohm def. Aoki via decision. LOSE

KELVIN HUNT: Ehh…I’m going with the upset here. The last time Aoki fought stateside…he got destroyed. If Beerbohm can dictate where the fight takes place..he wins….I’m say Beerbohm via TKO. LOSE

RICHARD MANN: The “Pride Never Die” crowd usually celebrates fighters that go for submissions before positions like Daisuke Nakamura. However, since Aoki is a black belt under Yuki Nakai he understands and believes in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu logic that it is necessary to secure a dominate position before working for a submission hold. Beerbohm’s scrambling style is exciting and effective, but everyone saw how Pat Healy was able to take positions on him. If he gives up his back or the mount against Aoki, it will almost certainly be the end of the fight. The use of elbows is a wildcard in this fight, but Aoki is a true student of the game and will be prepared for the new rule set. Pick = Aoki. WIN

Gegard Mousasi vs. Keith Jardine

Gegard Moussasi (30-3-1) vs. Keith Jardine (17-9-1)

ODDS: Gegard Mousasi -575 vs. Keith Jardine +375

BRIAN FURBY: Gegard Mousasi. LOSE

JACK BRATCHER: Mousasi is the better technical striker. Combine that with the fact Jardine is taking this fight on very short notice and I have to go with Mousasi via TKO. Jardine’s main hope would be to get it to the ground but I don’t see him taking that route. LOSE

JOHN BUHL: Jardine is a tough, scrappy opponent for anyone to deal with and a nice last-second replacement for the injured Mike Kyle. Unfortunately, I don’t see what he’ll be able to do, stylistically, to bother Mousasi. Mousasi is a very calm, technically sound, well-rounded striker, so Jardine’s unorthodox habits won’t bother Mousasi. If anything, it’ll give Gegard more openings to land some leather. Mousasi’s main weakness is his wrestling and Jardine won’t be able to exploit that. Mousasi by decision. LOSE

JOSH CROSS: Big props to Jardine for taking this fight on such short notice. That being said, I think that Jardine’s chin is suspect and the decision to take the fight on such short notice doesn’t help him in his preparation. My Pick: Mousasi def Jardine via TKO in Round 2. LOSE

KELVIN HUNT: Jardine will be the larger fighter by far…with that said Mousasi is going to knock him out…Mousasi via TKO. LOSE

RICHARD MANN: Pretty much anyone who can throw a solid left hook can finish Jardine. Mousasi throws a pretty one, and he can set it up with footwork and combinations. Strikeforce did a great job finding an interesting late-notice replacement since Jardine is a game veteran. However, Mousasi is certainly in line for a stoppage win here. Jardine is known for his “unorthodox” striking style, but do not forget that most things are left out of the orthodox style for a reason. Pick = Mousasi. LOSE

All fight odds provided by sponsor LinesMaker.


  • JOHN BUHL 2-2
  • JOSH CROSS 2-2