Strikeforce: Diaz Needs Return to UFC to Earn Elite Status

Nick Diaz Strikeforce

Strikeforce Champion Nick Diaz

Diaz ready for new challenges

With each passing performance, it gets harder and harder not to give Nick Diaz his due.

The Strikeforce welterweight champion ran his winning streak to double digits on Saturday night, weathering a brief storm from Paul Daley before putting the British striker to rest with just seconds remaining in the opening round.

While there were more tenuous moments in this five minute affair than Diaz had faced in his last handful of fights combined, that is where he continues to show his growth and development as a fighter and earn his standing as one of the best fighters competing outside of the UFC.

Diaz took the best Daley had to offer and kept coming forward. He didn’t panic when Daley put him on the ground with a solid right hand; he covered up, kept his head moving and waited for “Semtex” to let him stand. Then he pressed forward again.

In addition to showcasing his poise and serious chin, this outing showed that Diaz is adding power to his punches in bunches approach. While it used to be the sheer volume of punches that eventually took their toll on opponents, the Stockton native is now swinging his fists with a little more force behind them, which makes him even more dangerous.

Unfortunately, Diaz has reach his ceiling outside of the UFC. No matter what he does from here on out, the 27-year-old from Stockton can’t climb any higher in the rankings without moving to the UFC.

While he doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy who is all that concerned with rankings, Diaz does care about money and respect.

He’s spoken publicly about his desire to be paid more, something a move to the UFC could certainly facilitate.

He gets respect from many in the MMA audience already; if anyone could lay claim to being “The People’s Champ,” it’s Diaz. That being said, there will always be some (read: guys like me) who will refuse to place him in the top 5 of the welterweight division until he beats someone better than Daley.

There’s no denying that Diaz has been impressive over the last four years; he’s 11-1 with a win over Takanori Gomi converted into a No Contest because he beat the top-ranked lightweight after smoking a bunch of weed.

His wins over Daley, K.J. Noons and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai are all solid wins, and he put together good performances against Marius Zaromskis and others along the way, but it’s going to take beating upper echelon competitors in the UFC for Diaz to get to the top of the heap in the welterweight division.

As good as Diaz has been inside the Strikeforce cage, if you hold him up opposite someone like Jon Fitch, the perennial UFC title contender trumps the accomplishments of the kid from the 209 hands down.

Fitch is 9-1-1 in the same four-year stretch Diaz has used to go 11-1 with the Gomi No Contest. In that time, he lost to Georges St. Pierre and fought to a draw with B.J. Penn, two men who are surefire Hall of Famers when they call it a career.

Along the way, he’s beaten Diego Sanchez, Paulo Thiago, Mike Pierce, Ben Saunders and Thiago Alves, all of whom are or were top 25 welterweights at the top; Alves was top 5, Thiago top 10.

Now if Diaz were to make his way back into the Octagon and put a hurting on someone like Fitch or Alves or Sanchez, then he’d find himself moving up the ladder even more. Nick Diaz For now, he’ll have to settle for being “The People’s Champ,” the best welterweight outside of the UFC, and a fighter with a potentially bright and lucrative future ahead of him.

Hopefully, he gets the chance to show he truly belongs amongst the divisions elite sometime soon.