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Ten Things We Learned From Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley

Review and results from Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley

TIME FOR DIAZ AND MELENDEZ TO HEAD TO THE UFC

Both of the Cesar Gracie champions earned first round finishes, defending their titles and cleaning out their respective divisions of Strikeforce challengers. With no one else to fight on the horizon, the time has come to bring these two into the UFC fold and see how they stack up against the elite in their weight classes.

Each would benefit from the move for different reasons.

For Melendez, it would be a chance to determine who the top lightweight in the world is against the winner of Edgar/Maynard 3. No disrespect to Anthony Pettis, Jim Miller or Clay Guida, but there is no one more deserving of facing the winner of the UFC 130 main event than “El Nino.”

A move back to the UFC would give Diaz the chance to show he really is a top 5 welterweight. He’s proven to be the best 170-pound fighter outside the UFC Octagon over the last two or three years, but it remains to be seen how he would perform against the likes of Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch or even Georges St. Pierre.

Dana White was sitting cageside at a Strikeforce event; if that isn’t far enough from “business as usual” to make a required move like this happen, I don’t know what is.

DIAZ VS. DALEY WAS BETTER THAN ADVERTISED

I had concerns about the main event falling short of expectations. Boy, was I wrong.

For three ticks shy of five minutes, these two went toe-to-toe, trading punishing blows and trying to put the other one away. Both men got rocked at different points in the frenetic first round, and even though they only used 1/5 of the allotted time, the fans still got what they came for and then some.

Whatever your feelings on the organization, you have to give Strikeforce their due: more often than naught, we’re treated to wildly exciting fights, and Saturday’s main event was no different.

DIAZ KEEPS ON ROLLING

Saturday night was the best I’ve seen Diaz, ever. While he thoroughly outclassed K.J. Noons and has looked good along the ride to 10 straight wins, this performance was his best since the Takanori Gomi fight in 2007.

Diaz has far more poise and a much better chin than I ever knew; he took Daley’s best and was back on his feet quicker than most men would have been, and then he came forward and got the finish. Lots of guys would have gone into defensive mode for the rest of the round, but not Diaz; he pressed on, landed heavy and finished things off before the first round ended.

Despite an impressive run over the last five years, I’m not quite ready to put him in the top 5 just yet. He’s got some real easy wins mixed in with quality victories and until he tests himself against guys like Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves, I won’t be completely sold.

But a move to the UFC and a couple more performances like this would have me singing a different tune very quickly.

MELENDEZ STAKES HIS CLAIM TO TOP SPOT AT 155 POUNDS

That was some performance from Gilbert Melendez on Saturday night. From the minute Cecil Peoples did his little shuffle to start the fight, Melendez was all over Tatsuya Kawajiri, disposing of the top 10 lightweight in quick and impressive fashion.

It’s a win that makes a strong case for “El Nino” being the top lightweight in the world.

He’s won five straight, beaten Kawajiri twice, Shinya Aoki in convincing fashion and holds wins over Josh Thomson, Clay Guida and Hiroyuki Takaya to boot. There isn’t a soul in Strikeforce’s lightweight division who can beat Melendez right now, and I’m not sure Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard could either.

Melendez asked for a title unification bout after putting away Kawajiri and it’s a fight a lot of fans (myself included) would love to see. Strikeforce was bought to eventually have all the best fighters in all the weight classes under one roof.

The time has come to make that happen in the lightweight division.

HOW ‘BOUT A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR KEITH JARDINE?

“The Dean of Mean” took a beating from Gegard Mousasi, but you have to love a guy who takes a fight on nine days notice and guts it out, bloodied and battered for 15 hard minutes.

He was swallowing big gulps of air at the halfway point of the opening round, but there he was at the end of the third, still trying to find an armbar.

After a performance like that, I’m looking forward to seeing Jardine’s debut as a middleweight in the Strikeforce cage later this year.

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