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Strikeforce Welterweight Title Fight Breakdown: Nick Diaz vs. Marius Zaromskis

If you asked the average man on the street who was headlining the upcoming Strikeforce: Miami card, you'd probably hear Herschel Walker's name more often than any other. But in reality, the main event is a welterweight title fight between Nick Diaz and Marius Zaromskis.

Both combatants are on five-fight win streaks, and while Diaz has been well known in the MMA world for years, 2009 was the year in which Zaromski established himself as a breakout star.

So how will the fight play out? Let's take a look.


While no one is doubting either man's credentials -- especially their recent histories -- an interesting thing to note about this title encounter is that Diaz has not fought at 170 pounds since 2006, while Zaromskis has never before fought for Strikeforce.

While neither of those facts disqualfied them from inclusion in a title bout. only one of those two facts has any significance come fight time: Diaz's weight. Since leaving the UFC in 2006, he's bounced around from catchweights ranging from 160 pounds to 180 pounds. This title fight with Zaromskis will be, at least according to him, a long awaited return to welterweight.

"I'm very happy to fight at that weight," he said on a recent teleconference. "I look the best at that weight. I like it, I feel the best at that weight. I've been waiting for a long time to fight in here at this weight class. Those last two fights weren't my idea. I've fought at welterweight most of my life, so this isn't a new thing to me. I'm happy to fight at welterweight."

If Diaz (20-7) is indeed most comfortable at 170, he's got a few built-in advantages against Zaromskis; namely, height and reach.

At 6-foot-1, Diaz has four inches on his opponent. Known for a pawing jab and tremendous punching volume, Diaz uses a relentless pace to wear down opponents and keep openings against him to a minimum. He seems to have perfected the style, losing only once in his last 11 bouts, and that only to K.J. Noons due to a cut stoppage. (He also had a no contest against Takanori Gomi in which he had a win overturned due to a positive post-fight drug test.)

In Zaromskis, though, he faces an opponent who has many weapons in his game that can give him trouble.

Like Diaz, Zaromskis is a southpaw who favors striking in a fight. Unlike Diaz, who favors a more traditional boxing style, Zaromskis is more of a kickboxer. He likes to throw frequent knees and kicks to the body, leading to occasional head kicks.

Those head kicks have become his calling card over the last year, as he's had three straight wins come as a result of the weapon, including highlight reel victories over Jason High and Mach Sakurai.

That style could give him a slight advantage in the standup, but then again, it seems that every time Diaz is considered the lesser striker in a bout, he ends up proving the experts wrong. As a result, the standup portion of the bout -- which could end up being the entire match itself -- could be an instant classic. Both men keep a strong pace, and Diaz's volume vs. Zaromski's power should be riveting.

The only facet in which one man has a decided edge on the other is a ground game. Diaz is a decorated black belt, and even Zaromskis admits ending up on the ground would be a mistake. But despite a ground advantage against most of his opponents, Diaz has never really shown a true desire or made any extended efforts to drag any foe to the ground, and I don't expect him to do so here, either.

I fully expect Zaromskis-Diaz will steal the show from Herschel Walker and be one of the most memorable bouts of the year with bell-to-bell action. I believe that Diaz will eschew his reach advantage and look to fight inside to take away some of Zaromski's kicks, as well as open the door to a possible clinch and takedown. Even if the match plays to expectations and stays upright for the duration, Zaromskis is capable of the upset, but I think Diaz's volume and improved power will wear Zaromskis down over the course of the five-round bout and he'll win a hard-fought decision.