Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock will make his return to competitive fighting after a one year layoff when he takes on Nick Diaz during Strikeforce’s next event on April 11 at the HP Pavilion and San Jose, Calif.
The matchup had been rumored for the past several days but FiveOuncesOfPain.com was able to confirm early Tuesday morning that the fight has been finalized. An official announcement could be made Tuesday during a joint conference call to be hosted by Strikeforce and television partner Showtime.
Shamrock, 23-9-2, fights at 185 pounds while Diaz, 18-7, primarily has competed at 160 and 170 pounds. As such, it was not immediately clear what weight the fight between the two California-based fighters will be contested at. However, Diaz has gone on the record before in interviews and stated that he would have no issue going up in weight if the right opportunity presented itself.
For Shamrock, the fight vs. Diaz will mark his first bout since sustaining a broken arm that forced an end to his Strikeforce middleweight title fight against Cung Le last March following the end of the third round. Despite having received medical clearance to return last fall, Shamrock has not fought since losing the title to Le.
Shamrock is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters to ever compete in MMA and was the first-ever UFC middleweight champion (later renamed the UFC light heavyweight title). The 15-year veteran holds notable wins in his career over Phil Baroni, Tito Ortiz, Enson Inoue, Jeremy Horn, Kevin Jackson, and Igor Zinoviev.
The 36-year old Shamrock will be giving up 11 years in age when he climbs into the cage to face Diaz. The 25-year old Diaz last competed in July during EliteXC’s “Unfinished Business” event, which was televised as a part of CBS’ Saturday Night Fights franchise.
Facing King of the Cage veteran Thomas Denny in Diaz’s hometown of Stockton, Calif., he was able to TKO Denny at 0:30 of round 2. The win served as Diaz’s third consecutive victory following a disappointing first round TKO loss due to cuts against K.J. Noons during EliteXC’s “Renegade” event that determined the promotion’s first-ever lightweight champion.
Noons was stripped of the title last year after refusing to fight Diaz and Diaz was subsequently signed to challenge for the vacant title against Eddie Alvarez in a bout that had been planned for a Nov. 8 event in Reno, Nevada. However, the event was canceled by EliteXC officials after the company suspended fight operations due to financial problems.
Strikeforce’s April 11 event will air on Showtime as a part of a new 16 event agreement between the two companies. Thus far, the only other reported bout for the show is a middleweight matchup between Scott Smith and Benji Radach. However, sources also inform Five Ounces of Pain that Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez are slated for the card against opponents that have yet to be determined.