July may traditionally be known as the Summer month most-associated with fireworks but this June could give the Fourth a run for its money when it comes to explosive action thanks to next week’s Strikeforce event.
The recently re-energized promotion’s card is headlined by a clash between Robbie Lawler and Jake Shields while also highlighted by former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski doing his best to deliver knockout specialist Brett Rogers’ first loss, scrappers Nick Diaz and Scott Smith testing each others’ chins, Phil Baroni attempting to continue his success at welterweight in a battle that’s turned personal against Joe Riggs, and Kevin Randleman making his Strikeforce debut against Mike Whitehead.
One of the participants of a bout guaranteed to keep fans on the edge of their seats come June 6, Smith recently expressed his thoughts on the upcoming skirmish during a conference call with media.
“I’ve been real fortunate the past year to be given great opponents to put on exciting fights. This is just one of those fights. Nick is a top pound-for-pound fighter in the world in my eyes. He is the kind of fighters I want. I don’t want to fight a C-class fighter. I’m going to use everything I got beat him,” said an excited Smith. The man who has earned his nickname “Hands of Steel” for his ether-laced fists and all-out approach to striking made no allusions as to his approach against the always-tough Diaz or how he felt the fight might go. “I plan on keeping this fight standing. I think he is going to try to take me apart. He’s a more technical fighter than I am. He’s going to want to take this fight to the ground. His best chance of winning is getting it to the ground. I’m going to use my sprawl and brawl technique. I think people don’t give (Diaz) enough credit. He has a lot more power than what it seems. He just does a good job of picking people apart and setting up the power punches. I’m definitely not underestimating his power at all. I’ve definitely had to change up a few things in my technique to train for Nick. If he’s smart he’s going to try to get it to the ground. That’s where he has the advantage. But I think he’s going to go out there and bang with me. I’m ready for everything. I just have to worry about what I do best and control the fight and not wait for him. If I wait for him, he’s going to pick me apart.”
Talk turned to Smith’s last opponent, Benji Radach, who is planning to file an appeal with the California State Athletic Commission based on what he felt was an incorrect ruling by officials. Expressing disappointment in the move, Smith went on to say, “I think it’s pretty unfortunate and kind of taking away from what was such a great fight. Win or lose, it was a great fight for both of us. He looked great until he got caught in the end. I think he’s kind of taking away from that. I don’t think anything is going to happen with this appeal. He is just trying to reassure a rematch down the road. That fight was such a great fight; we need a rematch no matter what. That’s kind of unfortunate though.
“With the appeal saying he wasn’t knocked out, and I hit him with an illegal strike to the back of the head. Yes I did, but not intentionally. If a guy is lying on the ground face down and able to get hit in the back of the head then the fight should be stopped. If he’s lying face down not even able to see a blow coming then the fight needs to be stopped. I dropped him and I knew he was hurt obviously. I went in for the kill and I didn’t know he was knocked out with his face down and I unfortunately accidentally hit him in the back of the head,” Smith continued.
Back on the subject of Diaz, Smith didn’t shy away from offering fans a prediction on the bout’s outcome. “I’m definitely anticipating a knockout. I’ll be going for it in the first round. Whether it is in the first, second, or third…it doesn’t matter to me…(just) as long as the fight doesn’t go the distance.” He went on to make it clear his supporters shouldn’t expect anything different in his next fight or anytime soon, reassuring them “(Changing styles) is something I think about a little. But the way I see it, I fight the way I fight because I have fun doing it. I don’t think I would have fun going in there and having a three-round snore fest. I had a terrible fight against Patrick Cote that went the distance. After that fight, I promised myself I’d never fight like that again and leave it all out there. If it gets to the point that my body can’t handle it anymore then it’s just time to get out of the game. I’m not going to sit there and try to change my style of fighting to try to prolong my career.”
In closing, the hard-hitting Californian gave his opinion on the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship’s current limbo due to title-holder Cung Le’s non-ring interests and made a promise to fans of Mixed Martial Arts. “(Le) is a champion. I know he’s busy and he has things going on. But we’ve got to do something. Maybe get (a fight for) an interim belt. We can’t just sit around and wait forever, especially after this card. There’s going to be some guys deserving of that title. He’s definitely the champion, he’s unbeaten, and hopefully I’ll be the champ someday to test myself against him.
(Strikeforce has) been giving me absolutely great fights. Like I said, June 6th will be the biggest MMA card of the year so tune in to SHOWTIME and watch it. I promise to put on an exciting fight.”