Diaz dominates Daley to retain title
The first major Strikeforce card to take place under the Zuffa banner boasted a stacked four-fight card that delivered everything fans had hoped for and then some Saturday night.
Leading the way was a thrilling one-round slug fest between Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and controversial challenger Paul Daley. For all 4:57 of this fight, the two put on a stand-up war that saw both of them teeter on the verge of TKO loss only to recover in the nick of time.
The end saw Diaz unleash a spectacular flurry of punches with only 30 seconds left in the round. Daley seemed able to survive until his knee suddenly buckled and he toppled over backwards, allowing Diaz to capitalize and ground and pound his way to a stoppage victory with only three seconds to spare.
The loss sends Daley’s future into a form of purgatory, as his ongoing feud with UFC president Dana White takes on a different dimension as White and the UFC now own Strikeforce, a company Daley originally saw as a place to get quality competition without having to play nice with the notoriously abrasive White.
In the other title fight Saturday night, reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez retained in dominant fashion over Tatsuya Kawajiri, a man who has recently been making a name for himself in the DREAM promotion. Unlike the main event, there was no back-and-forth action here at all as Melendez dominated from the opening bell, using his superior boxing skills and efficient elbow strikes to end the fight at the 3:14 mark.
After the fight, emboldened by the new merger, Melendez used the post-fight interview to call for a lightweight unification match between himself and the winner of the upcoming Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard match for the UFC lightweight title.
Also seen Saturday night, Keith Jardine got himself back into a Zuffa cage and pulled off an ugly-looking draw against former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi which was only possible because of an illegal kick thrown in Round 1. While Jardine was on top of Mousasi, Mousasi hit him with an up kick even though Jardine was technically in a downed position. The referee saw fit to deduct one point from Mousasi. The final two rounds were dominated by Mousasi, however it was not enough as two out of the three judges awarded the first round to Jardine resulting in a majority draw.
The night’s first fight saw Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki make very quick work on Lyle Beerbohm, a man who had been undefeated until February of this year, but now has two losses on his record. Aoki easily took control of the fight from the onset and was able to earn a stoppage after just 1:33 thanks to a rear naked choke that turned into a neck crank. Aoki has now won seven out of his last eight fights with that one loss coming to Gilbert Melendez.