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Strikeforce Title Fight Breakdown: Nick Diaz vs. 'Cyborg' Santos

Over the last two-and-a-half years, Nick Diaz has found a quality that eludes all but the best fighters: consistency. With all of the various methods of attacks and permutations that lie within them, MMA can be a terrifyingly dizzying sport in which to participate. Yet Diaz seems to have made the leap to where he has an innate feel between himself and his opponent, leading to an eight-fight win streak.

The Strikeforce welterweight champion attempts to defend his belt for the second time, this time against Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, a fighter whose record does not necessarily match his fearsome style. "Cyborg" is a throwback in the sense that he cares little about planning or technique, often letting his fights devolve into battles of attrition, and for that, he's become a favorite among hardcore fans who appreciate that type of old-school mentality. Among more mainstream fans, Santos is hardly known. Even in a sport like MMA where records are not the only report card on a fighter's career, Santos' 18-13 mark has him underappreciated by many who see that type of number and automatically think "journeyman."

Because of that, Diaz is a heavy favorite to beat Santos at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg.

Diaz routinely wears opponents down and eventually overwhelms them with incredible volume. The Stockton, California fighter, who is 23-7, has built up tremendous endurance through a workout regimen that often includes triathlon training. This unique preparation nearly assures that every time Diaz steps in the cage, he will have better stamina than his opponent over the long haul.

That is well illustrated by the numbers. According to Compustrike, Diaz throws an average of 253 strikes per fight over his last 11 bouts, a staggering total. Just as amazingly, he lands an average of 128, or 51 percent. Though he's been criticized by some for not being a power puncher, that type of constant pressure and volume eventually means something powerful is going to get through.

Not surprisingly then, five of the eight wins during his current streak have come via TKO.

Santos is more of a pure power puncher, willing to sacrifice technique at times in hopes of landing a knockout shot. Still, he has connected on 51 percent of his thrown strikes over his last five fights. Tellingly, Santos has averaged 27 landed arm strikes over that time; 26 of them have been classified as power strikes, meaning he is not one to set things up with jabs.

The bigger problem with Santos' standup has to do with his defense. Most fighters competing at a championship level are not easy to hit. Diaz, for example, is able to fluster opponents, who connect on just 37 percent of their thrown strikes. Santos isn't quite as difficult a target; his opponents find their mark 54 percent of the time. So if the fight stays standing, Diaz -- already considered an accurate puncher -- could have a field day.

The ground game is much harder to predict as both fighters are Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts. Diaz has never been tapped out during his career while Santos submitted just once, to a Kazuhiro Nakamura keylock in July 2006.

Diaz is much more likely to try to take the fight to the ground, averaging nearly three takedown attempts over his last 11 fights. He's been successful in just nine of 32 tries (28 percent). Wrestling remains the one area where he can be vulnerable, but Santos just isn't the man to do it. Wrestling is a tiny piece of his game, and he very rarely looks to transition into a shoot, trying just three takedowns in his last five fights.

The one wild card in the mix is Santos' recent drop to welterweight. He has just one fight under his belt in the division, and it's certainly possible that he's been fighting out of his weight class all this time and finds himself feeling much better among smaller fighters. He fought as high as 205 pounds as recently as 2007, and has also spent time at middleweight.

I don't see that being a big factor though, as Diaz has fought bigger men before, including the heavy-handed Scott Smith, a fighter who if anything, boasts superior power to that of Santos.

Santos rarely backs up, but Diaz's volume and accuracy is likely to at least put him on the defensive. Santos likes to counterstrike, but while KJ Noons had success against Diaz doing that, he's much more technical than Santos tends to be. Diaz rarely gives his opponents a chance to get comfortable, so that may not be the best strategy here. Diaz will wear Santos down over the first two rounds before we see a referee stoppage. Diaz via third-round TKO.

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