Nick Diaz & Cesar Gracie Arrive

Nick Diaz & Cesar Gracie Arrive

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(Nick Diaz walks to the cage. Check out the full gallery here.)

Nick Diaz survived a knockdown scare against DREAM Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromskis and ended the Lithuanian’s night with a right hook with 22 ticks left in the first round to become the first Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. In doing so, the Cesar Gracie black belt entered the pound-for-pound ranks and bringing a third major organizational belt to the same camp for the first time in history.

With quality wins at lightweight, welterweight and middleweight, Diaz’s post-UFC career has sent the Stockton, Calif. native’s stock soaring. He left the UFC on a high note—it’s rare to see fighters exit the UFC with back-to-back wins—and has only lost once since in nine bouts, a cut stoppage loss to KJ Noons. Anderson Silva is the only other fighter to earn meaningful wins in more weight classes – Shooto middleweight (167 pounds), Pride welterweight (183 pounds), UFC middleweight (185 pounds) and light heavyweight (205 pounds). Diaz’s recent run has earned him a place in the pound for pound conversation along with “The Spider,” Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn and Lyoto Machida.

Diaz (21-7), started his unlikely ascent by tapping PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi with the gogoplata in 2007, bouncing up to middleweight and stopping reputable middleweights Frank Shamrock and Scott Smith before finishing off with a return to his natural weight of 170-pounds and becoming the first man to unify major belts in Japan and America with his first round TKO over Zaromskis.

Diaz’s 170-pound strap completes a Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu triple crown. Pat Miletich is the only other trainer to boast major-promotion champions in three different divisions – Jens Pulver, Matt Hughes and Tim Sylvia – but the three never held their belts concurrently. Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez and Diaz became champions in consecutive months.

Champions are defined by their title defenses though, so Diaz and Cesar Gracie’s team have stern challenges ahead to maintain their status. Diaz is likely to face former International Fight League Welterweight Champion Jay Hieron, who took a unanimous decision over Joe Riggs earlier in the night, while Shields and Melendez are rumored to have Dan Henderson and Shinya Aoki on the horizon.

Matchmaking Duties

Strikeforce’s cupboard isn’t as bare as it was just 12 months ago, but the promotion still needs to think carefully about how it uses its talent. Here are some suggestions:

• If Marius Zaromskis doesn’t return to DREAM, a tilt with Tyron Woodley would provide good style tests for both.

• Marloes Coenen would be wise to enter the April 145-pound female tournament to try and earn a rematch or await Gina Carano’s expected summer return for a noteworthy contest.

• Robbie Lawler’s reluctance to jump into the title picture should see him tangle with Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Melvin Manhoef and Benji Radach could present equal excitement as Manhoef-Lawler, and a rematch of that fight later this year would be worth watching.

• Putting Bobby Lashley across from former UFC title challenger Jeff Monson would be a step in the right direction if he and the “Snowman” haven’t formed an unbreakable bond at American Top Team, and the same could be said of Antonio Silva.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Diaz looks great! He has improved with each fight and is only 26. Hes been around so long I think we forget hes so young. hes younger than any of the UFC challengers at 170lbs. Younger than Hardy Koshchek, fitch, sanchez etc.

  2. “Diaz’s recent run has earned him a place in the pound for pound conversation along with “The Spider,” Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn and Lyoto Machida.”

    HAHAHAHA no, no, no. not even close. He hasnt come close to beating the calibre of fighters these legends have. His biggest test to date has been sean sherk and a young diego sanchez. Result 2 losses. He may get there someday but considering that GSP is without doubt the best P4P welterweight in the world, nick diaz is not in that conversation until he earns a fight with GSP. ahh how i wish for cross promotional bouts.

    what a dumb article.

  3. WunderKin – it’s YOU not the article that is a dumbA$$!!! If you look at Diaz’s losses – he never quits or gets knocked out – they’re usually decisions and could have gone either way!!! Yes Sanchez was young but so was Nick you pr!ck!!!! – and he lost this fight to a controversial decision!!! Come to think of it – most of Nick’s losses have been controversial decisions or stupid stoppages (Noons) Nick would fcuk up Sanchez one time and would do the same to Hardy, Kos, etc!! The only guys in the UFC that would give Nick a proper test at welterweight are Fitch, GSP and BJ Penn!!

    Your such a d!ckless muthafucka WunderKin – go back to the drawing board and learn about fighting you fcuk!!!

  4. Pound for pound rankings have 10 fighters and after your locks like Fedor, Penn, St. Pierre, etc. there’s room to mention some of the sports best like Jon Fitch, Dan Henderson etc. Diaz lands somewhere in that conversation.

  5. I think Diaz has earned the right to be mentioned as one the best pound for pound. Lets not forget GSP lost the belt just after winning it. Granted he has gone on a good run since then. But Nick Diaz has done the same thing, he has put together a great string of wins. Now where he is on the P4P list all depends on who he fights. But he has earned the right to be mentioned in that list. I wish he was still in the UFC because he would provide a better opponent than most in the Welterweight division could right now.

  6. Jake Shields Shooto 167lbs, ROTR, 175lbs, EliteXC, 170lbs, Strikeforce, 185lbs.

    Shields has been p4p since last fall on most major sites. Diaz deserves to be in consideration.

    MMA Rankings: Shields proves biggest winner in latest shuffle

    Story Highlights
    Jake Shields makes his first appearance among the top pound-for-pound fighters
    He joins Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva as only fighters listed in two divisions

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/josh_gross/09/28/rankings.mma

  7. Why would he call out GSP!!!??? Is it cause he knows he will never fight in the UFC an never fight GSP . He keeps talking about how something weird is going on over there [UFC] an how his brother won that fight.

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