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Strikeforce Diaz vs. Daley Predictions

In what promises to be a highly entertaining fight card, Strikeforce is back in action Saturday night with its welterweight and lightweight titles on the line, and two more live fights that promise to be exciting. We've got the full preview right here.

What: Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley

Where: San Diego

When: Saturday, the Showtime televised card starts at 10 PM ET.

Predictions on the four televised fights below.

Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley
This fight is for the Strikeforce welterweight title, but I'm looking forward to it less because it's for a belt and more because it's just a lot of fun.

Daley is perhaps the hardest puncher in the welterweight division. His boxing technique is actually not great (anyone who saw him get out-boxed by Nick Thompson a couple years ago knows that), but his punching power is dynamite. Diaz has a great chin, but if Daley connects to Diaz's chin with one of those vicious left hooks, it's going to be lights out.

And it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Daley connect with Diaz's chin, because Diaz often acts like a tough guy at the expense of fighting the strategically smart fight. Diaz might just stick his chin out and tell Daley to bring it, and that would be a serious mistake.

However, I think Diaz will be smart enough to do what he needs to do to beat Daley: Take the fight to the ground and submit him. Diaz has never had great takedowns, but he should be able to get Daley on the floor. And when he does, it's only a matter of time before Daley taps. I like Diaz to win by submission.
Pick: Diaz

Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
Melendez is finally stepping back into the cage for the first time since he beat Shinya Aoki a year ago. Melendez dominated the one-dimensional Aoki for 25 minutes of a fight in which he was never threatened, but in Kawajiri he has a very different challenge.

Kawajiri is nowhere near the submission artist Aoki is, but unlike Aoki, Kawajiri can threaten Melendez in a stand-up fight. Kawajiri has good enough striking that he could finish Melendez with punches, or beat him by decision if he can stay on his feet.

However, I think the most likely result is Melendez winning a decision. Melendez beat Kawajiri by unanimous decision in a 2006 Pride fight, and I'll pick him to do the same thing (in a 25-minute fight) this time around.
Pick: Melendez

Gegard Mousasi vs. Keith Jardine
Six months ago, Jardine's career was at its all-time low point. He lost four fights in a row to get bounced out of the UFC, then lost what most people expected would be a relatively easy fight in his return to the cage, dropping a decision to Trevor Prangley on a Shark Fights card in September. When you lose five in a row, everyone figures you're shot as a fighter.

But Jardine didn't give up after losing to Prangley. He quietly won two fights in minor-league promotions, and now he's been handed a huge opportunity in a fight with Mousasi, who needed an opponent on short notice when Mike Kyle got hurt. It would be a dramatic turnaround for Jardine's career if he could beat Mousasi and prove that he can still compete against high-level light heavyweight competition.

I don't see it happening, though. Mousasi is a good enough striker that he has competed successfully in K-1, and he isn't likely to get frustrated by Jardine's awkward stand-up style. And although King Mo Lawal showed that Mousasi struggles to stop takedowns against good wrestlers, Jardine has never been one to take his opponents down and grind them out, the way Lawal did. Mousasi will probably knock Jardine out, and if he doesn't he'll probably win a unanimous decision.
Pick: Mousasi

Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm
This is an odd matchup, as Beerbohm is getting a huge step up in quality of competition immediately following his first career loss. Aoki embarrassed himself in defeat in a weird hybrid MMA-kickboxing fight the last time he stepped into the ring, but his submission skills are on another level from anything Beerbohm has ever seen, and it would be shocking if Beerbohm doesn't tap.
Pick: Aoki

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