Frank Shamrock vs Nick Diaz at next Strikforce
Strikeforce today confirmed its debut on Showtime will feature a main event between former Strikeforce world middleweight champion Frank Shamrock and former EliteXC top lightweight contender Nick Diaz at a catch-weight of 179 pounds.
The April 11 event, which will be the first following Strikeforce's acquisition of select assets (including key fightets' contracts) from ProElite/EliteXC last week, takes place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker also confirmed Benji Radach vs Scott Smith as signed for the event, and the organization is on the search for opponents to fight Strikeforce world lightweight champ Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez.
Details of the event and Strikeforce's deal with ProElite were discussed today during a media conference call with Coker, Shamrock and Ken Hershman, Showtime's VP and GM of sports and event programming.
Strikeforce and Showtime last week confirmed a new broadcasting deal that could feature up to 16 live event broadcasts per year. The deal will include a series that showcases the organization's top prospects, similar to EliteXC's "ShoXC" series that aired on Showtime from 2007 to 2008. Strikeforce has recently promoted its version of the series under the name "Young Guns."
As for the major events, the first features an intriguing headline bout between the 36-year-old Shamrock and 25-year-old Diaz.
Shamrock, who lost his title to Cung Le in March 2008, suffered a broken arm in the TKO defeat and has been sidelined ever since. Although a rematch with Le had been discussed for the April 11 event, Coker said the current champ has been busy with his budding movie career and recovery from a recent injury. (However, Le is expected to defend his title against Shamrock before year's end, Coker said.)
Shamrock instead meets Diaz, one of many fighters stuck in a state of limbo when EliteXC ceased promoting events in late 2008. Diaz, one of approximately 40 fighters initially acquired by Strikeforce last week, hasn't fought since his July 2008 co-main-event TKO victory over Thomas Denny at Elite Xtreme Combat: Unfinished Business which was the second (and now last) EliteXC show to air on CBS.
Although most intrigued by the marketability of a fight with a fellow "bad boy," Shamrock also admits there is some bad blood between the two fighters.
"I do know him personally, and it rare that I know fighters on a social level," Shamrock said. "Nick Diaz is very similar to me and came from a broken home. ... We have some ties that tie us together.
"I know for a fact he said some words when I knocked out his coach Cesar Gracie in March 2006. And he said some words afterward that got him into this fight. We're going to fight. I don't care about Nick. He's a nice guy, and I'm going to knock him out, and then I'll go on to the next one."
In addition to the Radach vs Smith middleweight match-up, Coker said the organization plans to feature Thomson on the main card. Coker said he's offered the fight to EliteXC's first and only lightweight champ, Karl James Noons, in what would become an unofficial title-unfication bout. However, Coker said the bout has only been offered to Noons and is not official.
Also expected on the card is Melendez. Coker said he's considering Mitsuhiro Ishida who delivered Melendez his first career loss in 2007, and recent UFC cast-off Jorge Gurgel as possible opponents.
Strikeforce has also issued an invitation to popular female fighter Gina Carano for a bout with Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, who Coker said recently signed an exclusive deal with Strikeforce. EliteXC was building toward a showdown between the two fighters before the organization collapsed last year. Regardless of Carano's participation, Coker said they hope to have Santos on the card.
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