There may be no team in MMA quite as tight knit as the Cesar Gracie crew. With a core made up of Nick and Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields, these are the kind of guys that are willing to get suspended for defending a teammate by throwing blows with an overzealous would-be challenger on live national television.
So it’s saying something that even Jake Shields isn’t sure what Nick Diaz is going to do tonight in his fight against Paul Daley. A striker by trade with knockout power to spare, Daley has one gameplan tonight: beat Diaz on the feet and avoid hitting the mat at all costs. Diaz, on the other hand, has a bevy of fight-finishing/winning tools at his employ — he just might not use them. The Stockton kid has shown a predilection for beating his opponents at their own game, which is a risky proposition when you consider that his opponent this time around has the ability to alter or end the fight with a single, well-placed shot. Shields spoke with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani and Ben Fowlkes yesterday to preview the fight and he admitted that he doesn’t know how his good friend and teammate will come at Daley.
“I’m really good friends with Nick and he’s still unpredictable. He’s one of the most unpredictable people I know,” said Shields. “Even being one of his closest friends it’s like, you never really know what he’s going to do. Sometimes you can try to get in his head and try to be, ‘Nick, this is how you should fight,’ but honestly, Nick likes to fight the way he wants to fight. …I’ve fought Paul Daley myself, I’ve been on the ground with him, I know Nick Diaz can smoke him on the ground, but will Nick try to take him there? I don’t know.”
Though he may not have Diaz’s ear in terms of fighting approach, Shields can offer his teammate valuable insight for having fought Daley himself back in 2008. Shields submitted Daley with an armbar in the second round of their fight, but revealed that he had to endure some below-the-belt tactics from the British slugger.
“He’s a dirty fighter,” Shields said of Daley. “That’s already kind of known but when I was shooting on him, he tried to put his fingers in my eyes and mouth and stuff. Other than that, he’s a great striker without really good jiu-jitsu and I don’t think he’s really changed too much since I fought him, I think he’s pretty much stayed the same.”
Diaz and Daley meet in the cage tonight at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California to contest over Diaz’s Strikeforce welterweight title.