Nick Diaz has struggled against the styles of his last two opponents. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Gilbert Melendez has had the opportunity to work closely with Nick Diaz on a number of occasions over the years.
Due to his bout against Anthony Pettis on Dec. 6, the former Strikeforce lightweight champion was unable to train extensively with Diaz as the Stockton, Calif., native prepared to face Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on Saturday. However, Melendez has reason to believe that, unlike Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit, Silva is going to be more willing to engage in the type of battle Diaz prefers.
In particular, Melendez does not think highly of Condit’s controversial unanimous decision win over Diaz for the interim welterweight strap at UFC 143. After the bout, Diaz was clearly frustrated with what he believed was his opponent’s reluctance to engage.
“There’s that fine line of trying to outpoint someone to win the rounds, and then there’s the tactic of sticking and moving, to load up a flying knee or a big push kick and really engage,” Melendez said during an appearance on The Sherdog Radio Network’s “MMA Rounds” show. “There’s gonna be moments where Anderson Silva is going to choose to engage and get in there with Nick and make it a fight. I think that’s the difference between him and the Condit fight.
“Condit never made that decision to stay in the pocket and engage or try anything too big. Anderson Silva is a showman, he’s a bigger fighter and he has a lot to prove. He has to go out there and make a fight of it, and that’s exactly what Nick wants.”
Against St. Pierre, Diaz had a few momentary flashes of brilliance, but his offense was largely negated by the superior wrestling of his opponent. The now-retired former welterweight champion played the percentages all night at UFC 158, landing nine of 16 takedown attempts overall.
Even then, Melendez believes St. Pierre learned his lesson during their all-too-brief exchanges.
“I don’t think anyone has had success standing and attempting to trade with Nick. GSP tried to experiment and get in there and he got caught,” Melendez said. “I wouldn’t call the Carlos Condit fight a success; I just feel like he did a very good job of avoiding the fight and trying to outpoint Nick. Anyone who’s actually decided to stand toe-to-toe or made the decision to box with Nick, has not won that fight.”
While Silva is an expert in the art of showmanship, Melendez can also envision a scenario in which “The Spider” elects to pick his spots against Diaz.
“If they want to touch and flee and score points, that’s one way Condit was successful, but not in many people’s eyes did he win that fight. And that’s something I expect to see from Anderson Silva,” he said.
Other than a couple catch-weight bouts, Diaz has spent the majority of his career in large organizations at 170 pounds. Moving up to middleweight to face Silva figures to be a serious challenge because of the size advantage the Brazilian will have.
Silva is not known for his takedowns, however, and with that in mind, Melendez expects Diaz to feel more comfortable throwing punches in the Octagon come fight night.
“When Nick can defend his takedowns or when the takedown isn’t really an option for the opponent, then he can let his hands go and you can see how much better his striking is,” Melendez said. “Sometimes you can’t let your hands go because you’ve got to be prepared to defend the takedowns. I think [against] someone like Anderson, he’s gonna be able to let his hands go and not really worry about it.”