PRESS RELEASE — Fresh off their respective thrilling wins, the versatile Nick Diaz (19-7) and knockout artist Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (17-5) are eager to get back in the cage. The pair will square off on Saturday, June 6, in a special 180-pound showdown during the live SHOWTIME telecast of Strikeforce: “Lawler vs. Shields” from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
“I think this is a great fight for me, but I really hate that (Smith) brings his kids to every one of his fights because now I’m going to be made out to be the bad guy or some sort of villain after I beat him up,” said the 25-year-old Diaz, who shocked the MMA world with his complete dominance of four-time world champion Frank Shamrock in the Strikeforce main event on SHOWTIME from HP Pavilion in San Jose on Saturday, April 11. “At the end of the day, I’m going to do what I have to do though and take him out.”
Against Shamrock, Diaz demonstrated his versatility. The Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt spent the majority of the match trading strikes—and getting the better of the exchanges. Known for his prowess on the mat, Diaz is also a professional boxer.
Known for his outstanding endurance, Diaz just completed a 5K race and will compete in an upcoming triathlon near his hometown in Stockton, Calif., in order to prepare for what could be a marathon slugfest in the cage with Smith.
Earlier on the “Shamrock vs. Diaz” fight card, the 29-year-old Smith prevailed in a brutal and action-packed fight that surely will be candidate for 2009 Fight of the Year. The thrilling, seesaw battle with middleweight Benji “The Razor” Radach ended when Smith landed one monstrous punch in the middle of the third round.
“I’m pretty much 100 percent right now, other than some stitches I have that are tender,” said Smith, who returned to training on Monday, April 13, two days after his victory.
“I usually take a few weeks off, get out of shape and go up to about 210 pounds and wind up spending a few weeks just getting back in shape,” he said, “but I decided I wasn’t going to do that this time. I’m 195 pounds right now and I feel great.”
With 15 of his 17 wins having come by way of knockout, Smith, a Muay Thai specialist, has lived up to his nickname. To prepare adequately for Diaz’s grappling capabilities, Smith will work with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ricardo Barros.
“Diaz is a great fighter,” acknowledged Smith. “He’s going to come in there and out grapple me and out strike me so what I have to do is go in there and beat him up. I actually think this is more of a dangerous fight for him than it is for me.”
Tickets for Strikeforce: “Lawler vs. Shields” are on sale at the Scottrade Center box office as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
The live SHOWTIME telecast of the event begins at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). In the highly anticipated main event, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (16-4) will face off with fellow top-ranked superstar Jake Shields (22-4-1) in a 182-pound catch weight fight.
Additionally, “The New York Badass” Phil Baroni (13-10) will collide with Joe “Diesel” Riggs (29-10) in a 170-pound contest.
Doors at the Scottrade Center will open for Strikeforce: “Lawler vs. Shields” at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 6. The first non-televised preliminary bout will begin at 7 p.m.
(Pictured: Nick Diaz)