Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz went to Japan and beat the past-his-prime legend Hayato Sakurai at Dream.14, getting Sakurai to tap out from an armbar in the first round.
But while Diaz winning in the first round is more or less what everyone expected, it was actually a more competitive fight than anticipated, with Sakurai looking good on his feet but getting outclassed on the ground.
More Coverage: Dream.14 Pictures | Dream.14 Results
Sakurai surprised Diaz by landing a couple of strikes in the early going, but Diaz quickly caught a kick and put Sakurai on his back. On top of Sakurai on the ground, Diaz looked comfortable and in control, but once Sakurai got back to his feet he landed a big overhand right that stunned Diaz. It was surprising to see Sakurai get the better of the exchanges with Diaz on his feet.
However, Sakurai made the mistake of taking Diaz down and falling right into his guard, and Diaz showed that he's dangerous off his back. Diaz calmly put Sakurai against the cage and Sakurai -- who doesn't have much experience in the cage -- looked uncomfortable and quickly tapped when Diaz sunk in the armbar.
Diaz is facing a suspension in the United States for his involvement in a post-fight brawl at the April 17 Strikeforce show in Tennessee. Dream seemed used footage of the brawl in its pre-fight video feature to bolster Diaz's bad-boy image. But Diaz was very respectful after the fight, bowing to Sakurai and grabbing the microphone to thank the Japanese fans.
There's no word on what's next for Diaz, who may be on the shelf for a while because of his suspension. But he'll likely defend the Strikeforce welterweight title some time in the fall, and he indicated that he'd like to fight for a Dream belt as well. There's no reason he shouldn't stay active in both organizations; he's one of the top fighters in the world at the top of his game.