A lot of people are excited about Strikeforce’s freshly confirmed April 11 main event between Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz matchup. However, not everyone is a fan. After all, you’re talking about a fight between two competitors, who, in recent times have been separated by an entire weight class. Yet in spite of the unconventional matchmaking involved with Shamrock vs. Diaz, it’s a match that surprisingly makes perfect sense.
Here’s the thing you have to understand about Frank Shamrock: he’s had two different careers. His first career was from 1994-1999 and even though he fought for Pancrase, that era of his career was about sport. However, when he came back full-time in 2006 for the second chapter of his career, it was about entertainment.
So from ’94-’99, you have Frank Shamrock the athlete and from 06-current you have Frank Shamrock the entertainer. Shamrock the entertainer isn’t about chasing titles or worrying about whether he’s ranked as a top ten middleweight. He’s already been there and done that. Now it’s about putting asses in the seats, giving people memorable fights, and feeding his family.
Admittedly, when Shamrock came back I really didn’t understand the logic. But it makes perfect sense considering that Shamrock was the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world at a time where there was little money to be made in fighting. As far as I am concerned, Shamrock has paid his dues and has every right to chase big pay days.
When you look at things from that perspective, that’s when Shamrock vs. Diaz begins to make perfect sense. Diaz is going to talk smack and get people charged up and Shamrock is going to indulge him. Shamrock is going to sell 5,500-8,5000 tickets in the San Jose market and 2,000-3,000 people will buy tickets and come up from Stockton to support Diaz. It’s going to be a energy-charged main event that will sell well at the box office and come off great on TV. Shamrock vs. Diaz will help start the Showtime-Strikeforce business relationship with a bang.
The bottom line is that Shamrock isn’t going to fight a top contender like Robbie Lawler or Gegard Mousasi at this stage of his career (unless it’s on PPV and he can get a huge payday out of it) and Cung Le isn’t available. Even if you wanted to think outside of the box and promote a rematch with Renzo Gracie, that’s not an option because Renzo apparently isn’t looking to fight right now. So what other options do you have? Jorge Santiago? Joey Villasenor? On paper, those are interesting matchups but will they sell and get people talking?
All things considered, I think Diaz vs. Shamrock is what the promotion needs right now and it’s what Shamrock needs. Coming off last March’s loss to Le, Shamrock needs a win and the fight vs. Diaz represents a matchup he will win easily if it doesn’t hit the ground.
If Diaz can get the fight to the floor, he could shred Shamrock. Shamrock has submissions but he doesn’t have strong traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Frank’s standup is new school but his ground game is old school. Diaz would be too slick for him on the ground and I believe he would submit him.
However, the fight will start on the feet and Diaz is going to want to engage in the standup. He might want to take it to the floor after he starts eating some shots but his pure jiu-jitsu takedowns aren’t going to be enough of a factor to dictate where the fight is fought. Diaz doesn’t have a good single leg, double leg, or upperbody takedowns. And if the fight stays standing, Diaz will be in trouble.
For reasons that are unbeknownst to me, Diaz doesn’t have the punching power he displayed when he knocked out Lawler ar UFC 47 or when he took Takanori Gomi out to the wood shed at PRIDE 33. If he comes in with those pitter-patter punches he’s displayed in more recent times, Shamrock is going to use head movement to avoid them and then use his feet to get inside and then counter with power shots that will rock Diaz.
I see Shamrock vs. Diaz being a classic slugfest and if that’s the case, it’s advantage Shamrock.