As we reported earlier today, Nick Diaz will face off against Thomas Denny on July 26. The match up will be part of EliteXC’s 2nd primetime network broadcast on CBS and will serve, in part, to introduce the exciting Diaz to a national audience while pandering more to hardcore MMA fans.
A few media outlets had reported that Diaz would be settling his highly publicized feud with KJ Noons on the card instead of facing Denny, but EliteXC feels that a Diaz-Noons match up on the July 26 card would be too soon for Noon’s who just endured a grueling training camp in preparation for his title fight with Yves Edwards and could use a little time off. The grudge match between Diaz and Noons could also benefit from some added buildup according to EliteXC VP and Matchmaker Jared Shaw.
“A fight of that magnitude deserves a long built up,” Shaw told Fightline.com. “Thats a main event in and of itself. The world wants to see that fight after what went down between the two of them. Also, Noon’s just came off of a really tough camp, the best camp of his life really, and it may be a little to soon to put him in against someone of Diaz’s caliber fresh after preparing for a (five round) title fight.”
Shaw also pointed out that EliteXC could be putting three titles up for grabs on the 26th and adding another five round fight in Noons vs. Diaz wouldn’t work within alloted time constraints.
“If we close the deal on the guy we’re looking at signing on to fight Antonio “Junior” Silva then we’ll definitely be crowning EliteXC’s first heavyweight champion,” said Shaw. “So we may be looking at three title fights already and to add another one wouldn’t fit in time-wise. There were a lot of reason’s why it made sense to hold off on that fight for now.”
However, if Diaz, who is heavily favored, can get past submission specialist Thomas Denny, expect the highly anticipated grudge match between he and Noons to materialize quickly, probably as soon as October. Shaw, though, doesn’t expect Denny to be a walk in the park for Diaz, figuring that the contest will test more than just his MMA abilities.
“The weight is on Diaz,” said Shaw. “Denny has an opportunity for a major upset here. The thing about MMA is that there is no home court advantage. People want tickets, people want your time…I’m not saying Diaz can’t handle it because I think he can, he’s a professional, but this fight will really test him because of everything involved.”
Shaw also feels that the match up will further showcase Diaz’s ground skills.
“I think it’s a great match up that really favors the ground. Denny likes to fight on the ground but everyone forgets that Nick Diaz is a Gracie (Brazilian Jui-Jitsu) Black Belt. Everyone thinks this guy is the MMA equivalent of (boxing’s) Arturo Gatti; that he can take a ton of punishment and come back smiling. Well he can do that, but this guy’s also got an amazing ground game and we thought it was a good fight to show off more of Nick’s skill set. That said Denny has an opportunity to ruin our plans. Any fighter that gets in our cage has an opportunity. There is no “gimme” at this level. The best fighters win consistently but there are no gimme’s.”
On the subject of gimme’s Shaw also took time to address the early stoppages that plagued the inaugural CBS card.
“You know, it’s unfortunate but you can look at the bright side. If your an MMA fan, an early stoppage excited CBS enough to come back on July 26 to give you your finish (to Smith-Lawler) along with four to seven other really attractive fights that your gonna get for free. You get Smith vs. Lawler, Jake Shields vs. Nick Thompson, and now we’re giving you Diaz-Denny. Your also gonna see “Junior” Silva and we’ve got some other tricks up our sleeve for the Showtime portion of the show…you just might see Titles, Ladies and Brazilians, oh my!