Nick Diaz 'Welcomed' Daley's Power, and the Brawl That Came With It

SAN DIEGO – Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and challenger Paul Daley began their title fight at the Valley View Casino Center on Saturday night like two men who had no idea that the bout was scheduled for five rounds.

The pace Diaz and Daley set early on made it clear that neither had any intention of going the distance, as both men took turns dropping each other to the mat with blistering punches throughout the first round. While Diaz was able to recover from his early scare, Daley was not. He collapsed to the canvas in the final minute and was quickly finished off by several more right hands from Diaz, bringing a halt to the bout at 4:57 of round one.

"I just come to fight," Diaz said at the post-fight press conference. "Whatever happens out there happens."

Diaz maintained that he was never really hurt by any of Daley's punches – not even when he was dropped face first onto the mat midway through the opening frame – but was merely "off-balance" and content to wait it out until he got his legs back.

"I'm probably better off down there anyways than standing up when I'm knocked off balance like that, until I get my footing. If I go down, I go down. What are you going to do down there? He couldn't hit me once I was down there."

Diaz began the fight in typical fashion, holding his hands out to his side and taunting Daley from the opening seconds. He described that as "strategy," and said it wasn't necessarily related to the heated staredown the two of them shared at Friday afternoon's weigh-in, which he still didn't completely understand, he said.

"We were fine until he got all hype-y at the weigh-in. I was good, you know? I don't like to come off that way, but whatever. I'm not exactly sure what happened out there."

As for his decision to stand and trade punches with the British slugger rather than take the fight to the mat, Diaz insisted that, at least to his way of thinking, that was the smart game plan. When fighting an opponent who puts a lot of stock in his own punching power, Diaz said, "you have to welcome it and not run from it."

The victory was Diaz's tenth in a row, and his third consecutive title defense. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker suggested that Diaz would get a rest before his next fight, but hinted that up-and-coming welterweight Tyron Woodley – who showed up to the event with a t-shirt that read 'I Got Next' – could be the next challenger for Diaz's title.

As for Diaz, by the time of the post-fight press conference he had already retreated back into his media shy shell, offering mostly mumbled responses to questions. If you didn't know better, you might think he'd won a fairly ho-hum decision rather than a first-round stoppage.

And his overall take on a fight that might very well be remembered as one of MMA's best one-round brawls?

"It could have been a little cleaner," Diaz said.

Maybe so, but it hardly could have been any more exciting.

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