Nick Diaz vs. Jeff Lacy: Is This Fight Good or Bad for MMA?
Current Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz has agreed to face former IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff Lacy in a boxing match sometime later this fall.
Both fighters have been going back-and-forth, giving opinions on what they think of each sport and what they are capable of doing in the other one.
Since 2006, Lacy has gone 4-4 in boxing while Diaz has gone 14-3, including a 10-fight win streak he is currently on.
The proposed bout has caused a lot of interest among fight fans, and it's about as intriguing as when James Toney stepped into the cage to take on Hall-of-Famer Randy "The Natural" Couture at UFC 118. It's also a much more dangerous fight for Diaz than it was for Toney.
Good: There's Always a Chance That Diaz Can Win If Lacy Overlooks Him
Lacy has power, but it hasn't been witnessed inside the ring in quite a while. Before Lacy lost to pound-for-pound boxer Joe Calzaghe in 2006, he had a 21-0 record with 17 knockouts. Since then he has gone 4-4 with every fight but one going to a decision. His only TKO loss was in his 2009 bout versus Roy Jones Jr.
The only loss that should be taken into consideration is his most recent one against journeyman Dhafir Smith in December. Smith has a 24-20-7 record in boxing and dominated Lacy over 12 rounds. Lacy probably underestimated him going into the fight. Will he be doing the same here?
It's tough to see how this can go well for Diaz unless he totally surprises everyone and defeats Lacy. It's going to more of a surprise to Lacy than anyone, who has been telling the media how Diaz has no chance against him in a sport he has done all his life.
Lacy is right, but there is always a chance, and that's worth something.
Bad: Diaz Will Be as Embarrassed as James Toney and Tim Sylvia If He Loses
Diaz will have less of a chance at defeating Lacy than James Toney had against Randy Couture.
It's much harder for a good MMA fighter to defeat a good boxer inside the ring than it is for a good boxer to beat a good MMA fighter in the cage.
Diaz will have no choice but to stand with Lacy the entire match, and while he has shown some of the best boxing ability in MMA, he isn't fighting professional boxers at any level.
He is also no stranger to getting hit. He was dropped twice in his title defense against Daley before stopping "Semtex" in the first round with only seconds left in the round.
When former UFC heavyweight champion took on a 48-year-old Ray Mercer, he only lasted nine seconds before the former boxing champion knocked him out for the first time in his career.
If Diaz gets knocked out, expect it to look just as bad and be just as quick and brutal.
Bad: Fight with Georges St-Pierre Loses Momentum If Diaz Gets Destroyed
Diaz's chances fair much better against the current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre than they do against Lacy.
St-Pierre is currently on a nine-fight win streak, including six title defenses. He has wins over Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Matt Hughes, Jake Shields, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck and Dan Hardy.
Diaz's win streak is longer, but it hasn't been against the greatest or most dangerous opposition. Since his last loss in 2007, he has defeated fighters like K.J. Noons, Paul Daley, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Hayato Sakurai.
When Toney returned to boxing after his defeat to Couture, it wasn't the same seeing someone who had never been finished in their entire and extensive boxing career get destroyed in one round. As a boxing fan, it really does change the reflections you have on the boxer when they return to their original sport.
If Diaz gets destroyed by Lacy, it's going to have the same effect at a greater rate considering his currently status in MMA. Toney wasn't as releveant in boxing when he lost compared to Diaz, who is a top-10 welterweight and one of the most dangerous opponents for GSP at the moment.
Good/Bad: Andre Ward Has Experience Training with Diaz and Expresses His Doubts
Super-middleweight champion and Super Six Tournament finalist Andre Ward spoke to ESPN about his experience training with Diaz.
"I appreciate and admire [Diaz's] courage," Ward told ESPN.com during the Pacquiao vs. Mosley event. "It remains to be seen how well he'll do, though.
"Nick has good hands, some of the best hands in MMA. But professional boxing is totally different. Totally different."
This sounds just like what we heard from MMA fighters when Toney took on Couture last summer, and it's the truth about both sports. They are totally different.
Maybe Ward's comments can be taken seriously by other combat sports fighters who plan on taking on other sport's best athletes.
It's also a good sign for MMA fighters that there are many opportunities to train with the elite boxers in the sport. Ward is currently ranked in the top 10 pound-for-pound by Ring Magazine.
Good: Win or Lose, Diaz Will Be Representing Mixed Martial Artists
Many boxers don't hesitate to express their opinion on the striking ability of MMA fighters.
Lacy recently told Steve Cofield on ESPN1100 his thoughts on striking in MMA.
"It's a 'Toughman' contest when they're striking," said the former super-middleweight champion. "Two fighters standing up going blow for blow. That's not boxing. Boxing is not Toughman. You're using skill, dancing around what you can see, but can't hit."
"This is something I love to do, and I've dealt with way better technical fighters than this guy Diaz, is gonna present to me," Lacy said. "I've dealt with a lot of different styles. He's stepping into my ring, but it's gonna be tougher for me? I don't think so."
I have a feeling Lacy may express a different opinion on MMA striking after he fights Diaz, even if he totally crushes him.
Like Toney, there is pressure on Diaz for stepping into another sport, but there is also pressure on Lacy just as there was on Couture to defend their sport. Still, Couture gave Toney credit for being the first high-profile boxer to step into the cage and test his skills against an MMA fighter.
The same should be done for Diaz.