After getting around to watching Nick Diaz beat Hayato Sakurai at Dream 14, it has cemented my growing opinion that he is the best MMA fighter in the world who is not with the UFC.
First off, here is the fight for those that have not seen it. It's not a particularly spectacular performance but it does highlight Diaz's well-rounded ability as a fighter and his growing stature in the P4P debate. Skip to 3:10 to get to the fight.
Diaz took a few early shots from Sakurai and showed that he has a great chin. He then landed a few punches of his own before securing the takedown. The fight eventually ended with Diaz securing the arm bar from his back again highlighting another strength in his Gracie BJJ black belt.
So onto the bigger picture and my stated earlier opinion that Nick Diaz is the best fighter not currently in the UFC. Yes that's right, better then the god-like Fedor, better then the Eastern hope Aoki and even a better fighter then his team mate Jake Shields.
With his win at DREAM 14, Diaz the current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion is now on a seven fight win streak. That streak includes wins over Scott Smith, Marius Zaromskis, Frank Shamrock and now Sakurai.
I'll agree that his competition may not be at the very top of the division and some or not recognizable names to the casual fans but they are credible victories none the less and it is the nature of the wins that is more impressive to me.
Diaz is a complete fighter in my eyes. His ground game is superb with his top level BJJ skills. He has solid takedowns and his boxing is outstandingly technical for an MMA fighter. No one throws better punches in bunches and delivers a more effective jab then Diaz.
Having watched yet another Diaz win and seeing his improvement as a fighter in the last few years it has only strengthened my belief that it is he that the UFC should be clamoring to sign to shake up their Welterweight Division not Jake Shields.
Diaz now has to enter the P4P conversation and he is definitely amongst the top Welterweights in the world. Is it out of the question to call him top three in the division?
I don't think so.
One thing is for sure, with his ever improving MMA skills, his outspoken nature and events such as the infamous Strikeforce brawl, Diaz will be at the forefront of MMA conversation.
Diaz fights more regularly then Fedor and has more entertaining fights then Shields, in my mind he is the best fighter not currently in the UFC. His win at DREAM 14 only continues my growing opinion on that.
Do you think differently?
Let me know.