Fresh off their respective thrilling wins, the versatile Nick Diaz (19-7) and knockout artist Scott â€œHands of Steelâ€ Smith (17-5) are eager to get back in the cage. The pair will square off on Saturday, June 6, in a special 180-pound showdown during the live SHOWTIMEÂ® telecast of Strikeforce: â€œLawler vs. Shieldsâ€ from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
â€œI think this is a great fight for me, but I really hate that (Smith) brings his kids to every one of his fights because now Iâ€™m going to be made out to be the bad guy or some sort of villain after I beat him up,â€ said the 25-year-old Diaz, who shocked the MMA world with his complete dominance of four-time world champion Frank Shamrock in the Strikeforce main event on SHOWTIME from HP Pavilion in San Jose on Saturday, April 11. â€œAt the end of the day, Iâ€™m going to do what I have to do though and take him out.â€
Against Shamrock, Diaz demonstrated his versatility. The Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt spent the majority of the match trading strikesâ€”and getting the better of the exchanges. Known for his prowess on the mat, Diaz is also a professional boxer.
Known for his outstanding endurance, Diaz just completed a 5K race and will compete in an upcoming triathlon near his hometown in Stockton, Calif., in order to prepare for what could be a marathon slugfest in the cage with Smith.
Earlier on the â€œShamrock vs. Diazâ€ fight card, the 29-year-old Smith prevailed in a brutal and action-packed fight that surely will be candidate for 2009 Fight of the Year. The thrilling, seesaw battle with middleweight Benji â€œThe Razorâ€ Radach ended when Smith landed one monstrous punch in the middle of the third round.
â€œIâ€™m pretty much 100% right now, other than some stitches I have that are tender,â€ said Smith, who returned to training on Monday, April 13, two days after his victory.
â€œI usually take a few weeks off, get out of shape and go up to about 210 pounds and wind up spending a few weeks just getting back in shape,â€ he said, â€œbut I decided I wasnâ€™t going to do that this time. Iâ€™m 195 pounds right now and I feel great.â€
With 15 of his 17 wins having come by way of knockout, Smith, a Muay Thai specialist, has lived up to his nickname. To prepare adequately for Diazâ€™s grappling capabilities, Smith will work with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ricardo Barros.
â€œDiaz is a great fighter,â€ acknowledged Smith. â€œHeâ€™s going to come in there and out grapple me and out strike me so what I have to do is go in there and beat him up. I actually think this is more of a dangerous fight for him than it is for me.â€
The live SHOWTIME telecast of the event begins at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). In the highly anticipated main event, â€œRuthlessâ€ Robbie Lawler (16-4) will face off with fellow top-ranked superstar Jake Shields (22-4-1) in a 182-pound catch weight fight.
Additionally, â€œThe New York Badassâ€ Phil Baroni (13-10) will collide with Joe â€œDieselâ€ Riggs (29-10) in a 170-pound contest.
Doors at the Scottrade Center will open for Strikeforce: â€œLawler vs. Shieldsâ€ at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 6. The first non-televised preliminary bout will begin at 7 p.m.