Diaz Stops Daley, Retains Title

By Brian Knapp Apr 10, 2011
Chants of “Diaz! Diaz! Diaz!” rang out across the arena, and Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz earned every one of them.

Diaz (Pictured, file photo) posted his career-best 10th consecutive victory, as he stopped world-ranked challenger Paul Daley on first-round strikes in their epic Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Daley” headliner on Saturday at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. Buried under the cumulative toll of Diaz’s punches to the head and body, Daley succumbed to the onslaught 4:57 into round one.

Theirs was a brief but electric encounter. Diaz swarmed with his trademark high-volume attack, and Daley gave as much as he took. He dropped the champion with a ringing left hook with a little more than a minute to go. Emboldened by one of the sport’s best chins, Diaz kept his head moving, recovered on the ground and returned to his feet, where he again went on the offensive. He backed Daley into the cage and unleashed another volley of punches that put the wobbly British bomber on his back. From there, Diaz went for the finish, striking with elbows, punches and hammerfists until referee “Big” John McCarthy intervened.

Melendez Elbows Smash Kawajiri

Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez staked his claim as the top 155-pound fighter in the world, as he smashed through the world-ranked Tatsuya Kawajiri in the co-main event. Four quick-strike elbows from the top brought a decisive end to the bout 3:14 into round one.

Melendez roared out of the gate, as he dropped Kawajiri to a knee with a stout right hand inside the first half minute. The punch landed repeatedly throughout the brief encounter and kept Kawajiri on his heels. Nothing the Japanese standout tried worked. When he clinched, he was met with back-to-back knees. Later, he shot for a takedown. Melendez responded with a textbook sprawl, pushed Kawajiri to his back with a series of short left hands and finished it with brutal elbows to the head.

“I don’t know how to fight any other way,” Melendez said. “If I wait, I usually do bad.”

Afterward, the 28-year-old Californian called for a unification bout with the UFC champion. Frankie Edgar will defend that title against Gray Maynard next month.

“I think it’s time we unified some titles,” Melendez said. “I’m the number one lightweight in the world, and I’m coming for that spot.”

Mousasi, Jardine Fight to Controversial Draw

An illegal upkick in the first round cost former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi a valuable victory, as his featured matchup with UFC veteran Keith Jardine ended in a controversial majority draw. Judge Lewis Cobian scored it 29-27 for Mousasi; two others -- Abe Belardo and Lester Griffin -- ruled it 28-28.

“We’re here to win fights,” Jardine said. “A draw is like kissing your sister.”

Undeterred by a cut near his left eye, Mousasi shredded Jardine with sharp strikes, leaning heavily on overhand rights, left jabs and flurries from the clinch. By the conclusion of their 15-minute encounter, Jardine was bleeding from multiple lacerations. The Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative secured half a dozen takedowns in the fight, four of them in the first round. With 51 seconds left in round one, Mousasi landed the illegal upkick and was deducted a point.

Mousasi took command in rounds two and three. The 25-year-old scored with a takedown of his own with 3:43 left in the fight and nearly finished it with a guillotine. Jardine escaped, only to eat more punches. According to CompuStrike figures, Mousasi outlanded Jardine 124-45. Still, it was not enough to overcome the penalty.

Aoki Taps Beerbohm in 93 Seconds

Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki submitted Lyle Beerbohm with a first-round neck crank in a featured matchup at 155 pounds and barely broke a sweat in doing so. The finish came just 93 seconds into round one, as the Japanese submission ace posted his first-ever victory on American soil.

Beerbohm pressed an ill-advised clinch inside the first 30 seconds and was met with a trip takedown from Aoki soon after. From there, his situation only worsened. Aoki transitioned deftly to his opponent’s back, snaked his arms around Beerbohm’s head and neck and coaxed the tapout.

The 27-year-old Aoki has rattled off four consecutive wins. It was the 17th submission of his career.


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