Things evolve so quickly in mixed martial arts that a 36-year-old can be made to look ancient by the increasing number of well-rounded fighters in 2009. Nick Diaz, 25, can do it all, including moving up 20 pounds from his normal fighting weight of 160 pounds to fight middleweight Frank Shamrock. His strategy of constant action and swarming the older fighter was brilliant.
An exhausted Shamrock stopped throwing much in return with 2:30 left in the second round and put his back on the cage. Diaz caught Shamrock with a big right uppercut that dropped the former UFC middleweight champ. On his back, Shamrock absorbed many of the 21 strikes Diaz attempted. Referee John McCarthy had to step in to save Shamrock at 3:57 of the second. Diaz picked up his 19th career win in Shamrock's hometown of San Jose in front of 15,211 at the HP Pavilion.
After a ton of pre-fight trash talk, Diaz was classy at the end. He immediately helped up the beaten MMA pioneer:
"I said, 'Get up, you're a legend,'" Diaz said.
Diaz, an extremely tall lightweight/welterweight at 6-foot-1, had a huge reach advantage. From the get-go, fighting from a southpaw stance, Diaz kept his right hand extended as a range finder. It seemed to confuse Shamrock. He was forced to throw from odd angles and was often caught lunging. Diaz then turned up the heat unleashing the jab and combos on Shamrock's face. The incredible pace gassed the older fighter. Diaz couldn't understand Shamrock wasn't firing back:
"I knew I had reach (advantage) on him, and I was trying to get him to put that right hand out there to death, and then jump in and counter," Diaz said. "I was telling him, 'Are you holding something for me? If you're gonna throw it, throw it.'"
Shamrock was coming off a 12 month layoff after suffering a broken arm at the hands of Cung Le. His conditioning was simply not up to snuff. But it doesn't mean he's got old or that he's done fighting:
"I'm going to keep coming back here to train; this is my hometown," Shamrock told the crowd in San Jose. "I brought the sport to California. I'm 36 and I'm gonna take down one of these youngsters."
Next time, he needs to stick to a "youngster" in his 30's. This 20-something was too active. Diaz attempted 297 strikes in just under nine minutes of action. Shamrock only attempted 80 shots the entire fight. Diaz landed an incredible 97-of-200 (47.5-percent) strikes on the feet.
Quotes via The San Jose Mercury News