One of MMA's most entertaining fighters will have his skills on full display Saturday night inside the Valley View Casino Center in gorgeous San Diego.
Nick Diaz, a participant in more entertaining wars than Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris combined, will put his Strikeforce welterweight title on the line against former UFC contender Paul "Semtex" Daley. The showdown promises to be a thriller, as the styles of both combatants mesh perfectly. And considering Diaz's propensity to engage in wild brawls, it's not out of the question that Semtex could take the belt back to England with him.
Will Daley's power and striking snatch the title away from Diaz, or will the cagey champion be too dynamic to lose his belt? The pros think they know the answer.
Ricardo Liborio: Nick Diaz is more well-rounded and fights five rounds over and over. He really has to be aware of Paul Daley's striking skills, though; he hits very hard. I pick Nick Diaz by decision. It will be an amazing fight.
Nam Phan: I say Diaz by decision but I wouldn't be surprised if Daley gets a KO upset.
Dan Hardy: Daley by KO in the second round. Diaz will try walking forward and punching like usual, but he will get hit hard and cut in the first round. The second round will be the same, with Diaz trying to get the fight to the floor, but failing. He will get hurt with a knee and knocked out toward the end of the round with a left hook.
Frank Shamrock: Nick wins. Destroys him with THC-laced BJJ and gangster boxing.
Javier Vazquez: If Nick Diaz fights smart, he will use his striking to get the takedown and submit Daley. Diaz sometimes has a habit of trying to beat guys at their own game. It might cost him in this fight if he does that. I still pick Diaz to win by submission. He is too slick on the ground, and I think it will eventually get there and Diaz will catch him, probably with an arm lock on Daley's right arm.
Greg Nelson: Paul has the striker's chance, for sure, but Nick has that as well as the submission threat. Nick also has tons of experience dealing with good strikers. He has always cracked me up; he is as real as it gets. I am going with Nick.
Gilbert Melendez: Diaz by whatever he wants.
Erik Paulson: Nick Diaz is a stud. He needs to take Daley down and finish him on the ground. Don't strike with a striker who has KO power. Be like water, my friend!
Mike Whitehead: Diaz by KO in the second round.
Travis Wiuff: I think Diaz is one of the most underrated fighters out there. He's fought so many tough guys and has beat up most of them. I love his attitude. He has great stand-up, great ground game, great camp. I am taking Diaz by second-round stoppage.
Mike Easton: Nick wins.
Doug Marshall: I think Diaz will wear him down like he always does. That guy's cardio is outta control and it looks like no one can hurt him. Cyborg blasted his legs about 30 times and he kept coming! So I'll take Diaz via third-round triangle.
Sam Hoger: How can Daley beat Diaz? A riddle it will be! On the ground Diaz is better, and standing he has a bit too much reach. I love Daley's "keep it real" attitude, but he is meeting the poster boy for keep it real. And to talk trash in this case, I think Daley is singing the wrong song because Diaz will be way too much by the time this day is gone. I'll be rooting for Daley, though.
Tim Kennedy: The only chance Paul has is in the first round. While he has more than just a puncher's chance, I don't see him being able to hang with Diaz's pace or cardio. Nick is the better wrestler and grappler, and is perhaps even more rounded as a striker. I see Nick playing the up-and-down game and finishing off Daley by submission in the fourth round.
Ron Foster: I'm a huge fan of both guys, but this is a bad matchup for Semtex. This should be a great fight for about two or three rounds. Nick Diaz will use his long jab and machine-gun punches while Semtex will be looking to land his game-changing left hook and low kicks to neutralize his opponent. After watching a much smaller Jorge Masvidal use his superior boxing to avoid damage and frustrate Daley, I think Diaz will be able to do much of the same. The fact that Nick is a southpaw will make it very difficult for Daley to land that big left hook. I believe Semtex will eat a hefty serving of right jabs and straight-left hands right down the pipe early and will be forced into using low kicks while he tries to stay on the outside of Diaz's long-range punching. I don't think this is an easy fight for Nick Diaz, but in my opinion he has many more ways to win this fight. Paul Daley always has that one-punch KO power, but I just don't think he will be able to pull it off against the iron-chinned Diaz. Should be a very exciting fight, but at the end Nick Diaz will remain Champ. Diaz by TKO.
Listen to the ESPN UFC Podcast
Click here to listen via iTunes.
Keith Berry: Diaz is tough. He will weather the storm and get the TKO in the third or fourth. He might get a little rocked, but he will get the W.
Michael Guymon: Daley is one hell of a dangerous fighter with the power he possesses in his hands. Unfortunately for him, he is fighting someone like Nick. Nick's frustrating style and all-around game will end Daley's night with a submission in the fourth round.
Ray Elbe: This is a great fight … for Daley. Styles make fights and Diaz uses the clinch for takedowns, which will expose him to Daley's striking and Muay Thai clinch. I hate picking against a Cesar Gracie guy, but because of the matchup … Daley by KO, 4:20 in the second round.
Benji Radach: Diaz has the ability to win this fight by utilizing all his skills. However, Daley has some good takedown defense that could frustrate Diaz and cause him to receive a knuckle sandwich that doesn't taste well. This being said, if Diaz scrambles or sets up a good takedown, I'd say Diaz wins by a nasty choke. However, if Diaz can't force or set up a good shot, I see some serious punch-drunk action in Diaz's near future!
Jason Miller: I usually don't weigh in on fight predictions, but I think I should comment here. This is a style clash that will result in a loss for Diaz. Diaz's weak link is undoubtedly his takedowns: He had a mountain of trouble taking down a much smaller K.J. Noons, and in a pure kickboxing contest, Daley has a definite advantage. Although Diaz is a more well-rounded fighter, it is doubtful that we will get to see a lot on the ground in this fight. Daley by KO.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: Nick Diaz is just the better MMA fighter here. I think this fight will look a lot like the Diaz versus Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos fight or, worst-case scenario, like the Daley versus Jake Shields fight. Diaz is gonna take some shots and have a few close calls, but eventually he wears Daley down, gets him to the floor and wins by arm-bar or rear-naked choke. Diaz has a lot of ways to win this fight while Daley has only a left hook.
Stephane Vigneault: Diaz by submission in Round 2. I can't stand Daley!
Gabriel Ruediger: Going with Diaz. Should be an entertaining fight and I really think Daley will be competitive, but Diaz's ground and gas tank are the deciding factors.
Sean Loeffler: OK, this is an easy one for me. Nick Diaz is by far my favorite MMA athlete of all time (I say athlete because he is not just a fighter). I really love the way he fights and moves in the cage. Secondly, Paul Daley has a bad attitude and threw a horrible cheap shot after the Josh Koscheck fight. I say horrible because it was completely ineffective. It would have been cool if it had hurt Koscheck. Not because I don't like Josh -- he's tough -- but it would have been the only clean shot Paul landed all night. And by the way -- how do you not knock out a guy walking away when he's not even looking?
Billy MacDonald: The question on everyone's mind is, will this be the fight where we get an elusive sighting of Nick Diaz's ground game? I personally don't think so, but I think that it won't matter anyway as Diaz avoids too many shots and utilizes his reach. I've got Diaz by decision.
Tom Vaughn: This is the biggest Strikeforce fight ever; I'm pumped for this match. Paul Daley is a dangerous man for anyone, including himself. With one-punch KO power, Daley can end a fight at any point (before, during or after). In this fight, Nick Diaz cannot risk taking a punch to give one as he usually does. Nick needs to fight smart early and gain ground as the fight progresses. I'm a Nick Diaz fan and I like Team Cesar Gracie. I don't know why, how or when, but I think Diaz will find a way to win this fight. Diaz by miracle.
Buddy Clinton: Technically, I see Diaz being able to handle Daley due to Diaz's experience and frame. If Nick wants to bring this fight to the ground, he will find a way to get it there. Yes, Jake Shields had some difficulty in the beginning submitting Daley, but Shields pulled off the sub and Nick will/could do the same. Daley has been able to give jiu-jitsu fighters difficulty in the past, but Nick is not your typical jiu-jitsu fighter. I see this fight coming down to one main component: who wants it more. Nick is on an impressive streak and has had a chip on his shoulder for years. Everyone watching him fight can see this. The streak will continue with Diaz pulling off a sub or TKO toward the end of the second.
Eric Pele: I got Diaz all day on this one. He has too many weapons for Daley. Diaz by third-round stoppage.
Jorge Lopez: In order for Daley to beat Diaz, I think Daley has to kick the crap out of Diaz's non-checking leg and avoid being taken down. I want Diaz to win and think he will via submission in the third.
Derrick Noble: This fight will be like that time Nick Thompson and I were training. It was a hard sparring day. Nick was getting overaggressive so I hit him once and he paused for a brief second, then flew backwards as if he were Superman and was dazed on the floor. Nick Diaz will put Daley down and submit him in the second round.
Nick Thompson: This fight is somewhat similar to the time I was in my cornfield and heard a whisper: "If you build it, he will come." Pursuant to the whisper, much to the disbelief of my neighbors, I plowed under my cornfield and built a baseball field. Thereafter, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and the seven other players banned in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, despite all of them having died many years prior, emerged from my corn and began to play baseball on the field. Some people could see them, some couldn't -- including my brother-in-law, who thought I was nuts. Despite the field driving me into bankruptcy, there was no way I was going to get rid of the baseball field. In fact, I followed the whisper, yet again, when it led me to take famed 1960s activist author Derrick Noble, who had since become a recluse, to a baseball game. At the game, we both had a vision that led us to visit Chisholm, Minn., where a minor league ballplayer-turned-doctor had died many years prior. On the way home from Chisholm, Derrick and I picked up a hitchhiker; a young ballplayer -- who, somehow, happened to be the one and same ballplayer-turned-doctor who had died many years prior. Once back at my farm, the ballplayer-turned-doctor joined the other ballplayers. All of it was truly unbelievable and, in fact, many did not believe it. For example, my brother-in-law still could not see the ballplayers and was very upset that the field was driving us into bankruptcy. He was also upset that my daughter could see the ballplayers and thought that we were making her delusional. During a confrontation about the bankruptcy, my brother-in-law accidentally dropped my daughter and she began to choke. Off of the field walked the ballplayer-turned-doctor and he was transformed from the young kid into the old doctor. He then saved my daughter's life by removing the hot dog stuck in her throat. My brother-in-law could then finally see the players and understood why we were not selling. Derrick Noble was invited into the corn from where the dead players were coming to see what was on the other side. And then I was rewarded for following the voice. My father, a huge baseball fan, who had passed away many years prior, was catching for the team. I got to meet him and play catch -- something I refused to do as a kid and always regretted.
Pros who picked Diaz: 26
Pros who picked Daley: 3
Pros who couldn't decide: 2
Mike Sloan is a contributor to Sherdog.com. You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19..