MMA: Paul Daley

Ten moments in Strikeforce history

January, 9, 2013
Gross By Josh Gross
Gina CaranoTerry Goodlad/Sherdog.comStrikeforce helped catapult the careers of female fighters like Gina Carano.

Saturday night in Oklahoma City marks the final chapter for Strikeforce mixed martial arts, ending a turbulent and groundbreaking period in the sport.

Moving from regional promotion to one of global significance, Strikeforce offered a compelling model for how organizations could rise to a place of national prominence during the Zuffa era. And, of course, the subsequent demise of Strikeforce produced a cautionary tale that indicated trying to put on big-boy pants in this business is a fool's errand.

Over his six years in the MMA business (following 20 as a kickboxing promoter), Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker took risks, made his vision come to life, then saw it come down like a house of cards. During that time, however, his promotion delivered many moments -- good and bad, in the cage and out.

10. Nick Diaz versus Paul Daley, Round 1

Regardless of the promotional brand, mixed martial arts delivers furious conflict. And under the Strikeforce banner, no two fighters delivered on that promise better than Nick Diaz and Paul Daley.

Headlining the first major Strikeforce card of the Zuffa era, Diaz and Daley, competing for the promotion's 170-pound title, unleashed a furious opening round that ended with three seconds left when Diaz put the Englishman down. Strikeforce often delivered action in part because the rules encouraged it (no elbow strikes on the ground) and the types of fighters Strikeforce looked to promote (it wasn't wrestler-heavy).

9. Heavyweight Grand Prix

Well-intentioned as it was, the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix -- a multi-stage tournament that in theory could have crowned the baddest man on the planet -- was a flop. From injuries to postponements to a reserve fighter winning the whole thing, the ambitious effort never delivered what it billed. Daniel Cormier, by all rights a terrific alternate, handled Josh Barnett in the finals. And Zuffa, which ceded control of Strikeforce shortly after the tournament's open round in February 2011, decided to move heavyweights out of the promotion entirely.

From what could have been to what was, the heavyweight GP proved to be many things, especially a great source of frustration for Strikeforce and Showtime.

8. Emelianenko loses to Werdum

There weren't many people that gave Fabricio Werdum a shot to upend Fedor Emelianenko. But lest you forget, MMA is sport. Anything can happen. And Werdum made it so, stunning the Russian in 69 seconds to win by triangle choke. Forgetting everything he'd accomplished over the previous nine years, the result gave all the ammunition Emelianenko deniers needed to chip away at the Pride champion's legacy. Emelianenko would go on to lose three straight before righting the ship and retiring in 2012 with a 35-4 record. Werdum, meanwhile, was propelled into the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, where he remains.

7. Brawling in Nashville

Of all the times to start an in-cage melee, doing so on network television will go down as one of the worst moments in the promotion's history. Following a card that featured three lopsided championship contests on CBS, Jake Shields and his team were confronted in the cage by Jason Miller. It was a combustible scene yielding punching and stomping and all sorts of nonsense that prompted play-by-play man Gus Johnson to utter the infamous line: "Sometimes these things happen in MMA." As it turned out, the event in Nashville marked the final time Strikeforce appeared on CBS.

6. Carano versus Cyborg and the rise of women’s MMA

To credit Strikeforce with the growth of women in MMA would require forgetting many passionate players that preceded its efforts. But there's no question that the promotion eagerly adopted women into the fold, and allowed them tremendous visibility. Such was the case when Gina Carano, whose stardom rose out of the ashes of EliteXC, met her match in Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos. A couple weeks after the announcement that Fedor Emelianenko would join the promotion's heavyweight division, Carano, who by then was an extremely marketable commodity, suffered a beating at the hands of the Brazilian mauler -- the first major event to feature headlining female combatants. 2013 could deliver Ronda Rousey against Cyborg in the UFC, a fight unquestionably forged under the Strikeforce banner.

5. Signing Fedor Emelianenko

On the upswing following its acquisition of EliteXC talent and a quality television platform, Coker took a risk on the Russian heavyweight star regarded at the time as the world's best heavyweight. This wasn't just any deal. With Fedor Emelianenko came his promoter, M-1 Global, and a bull's-eye on Strikeforce's back that signified a regional show had evolved into a global venture. That meant it would be perceived as a "competitor" to the UFC, which was rebuffed in its attempts to sign the Russian. Emelianenko provided a big boost, as his debut on CBS scored just under 5.5 million viewers. In the end, despite the interest he generated, the deal for Fedor forced a relatively frugal promotion to accrue debt and that ultimately led investors to bail.

4. Strikeforce purchases ProElite assets, partners with Showtime

Strikeforce was already making waves in 2008 when it signed a broadcast deal with NBC to air taped programming, but the promotion didn't mature until the following year. Gobbling up assets from ProElite, including fighter contracts that included Nick Diaz, Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler, Strikeforce was now capable of producing enough content to fill a regular series of live fights. Thus the relationship with Showtime, which previously aired ProElite, was born. In addition to the deal with Showtime, Strikeforce also signed on to deliver live fights to CBS.

3. The talent

From the start of its venture into MMA, Strikeforce's small band of scouts and matchmakers pulled a wealth of talent from West Coast gyms, making the most of local relationships, particularly with American Kickboxing Academy and Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu. Soon enough Strikeforce had signed internationally recognized fighters and lived as one of the few viable alternatives to the UFC. There's no question that history will be kind to Coker and his team when it comes to their ability to identify, showcase and develop fighters, all the while agreeing to more flexible partnerships that gave talent the option to compete in other venues.

2. First regulated event in California draws record turnout

California cleared the path toward MMA regulation, yet it took six years for the Golden State to actually oversee an event. On March 10, 2006, Strikeforce promoted the state's first MMA card, packing the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., with 18,265 eager fight fans -- then a record in North America. Frank Shamrock returned to the cage for the first time in three years and in the headliner knocked out Cesar Gracie. His effort, along with fighters who became Strikeforce and UFC mainstays, made a memorable night for Strikeforce, and more broadly the sport in the U.S.

1. Zuffa purchases Strikeforce

Just as it appeared Strikeforce was set to be a true competitor to the UFC, Zuffa swooped in and rattled the landscape. The move, announced in March 2011, was monumental for several reasons. Though Zuffa said it planned for Strikeforce to operate independently, that never happened. Much of the promotion's staff was ousted in favor of Zuffa employees. Strikeforce fighters began matriculating to the Octagon.

Hope of Zuffa's promotional prowess augmenting what Strikeforce already had in place was dashed. Insiders took to calling Strikeforce a "zombie promotion," and as with the other organizations Zuffa purchased during its rise to the top of MMA, Strikeforce was eventually assigned to the dustbin of history.
Fans of British welterweight Paul Daley should not expect to see him at the Nottingham UFC event, regardless of the news that he recently severed ties with Strikeforce. More »

Notes and Nuggets from Columbus

March, 2, 2012
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
COLUMBUS -- Ronda Rousey has rapidly become the voice and weathervane of women’s MMA. She’s a mean judoka who has Olympic bronze on her résumé. She’s a pistol, she’s a mystery, and she’s headlining a fight card in which the direction of women’s MMA is quite literally in her hands.

Not bad for somebody with two minutes, 18 seconds of professional fighting experience.

Rousey will challenge Miesha Tate for the bantamweight title on Saturday (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET). There’s a storminess between the two, which gives the whole thing the kind of hypeable dimensions that Gina Carano and Cristiane Santos had back in 2009. But there’s also a “let it all hang out” feel to this fight because, after Tate/Rousey sort things out, what's left?

With her suspension for using anabolic steroids, featherweight champ Cyborg Santos isn’t looming, and Carano is done with the racket. Which leaves Alexis Davis and Sarah Kaufman -- who are facing off on Saturday night as well -- and then an otherwise pretty empty field.

And that’s where things stand with the women’s roster on Strikeforce. In short, pretty much business as usual. Only this feature attraction has some nice friction going, and the murky future happily gives way to the here and now.

Tate is tired of hearing about the arm collection that Rousey has going, and Rousey is warning that what few reels we’ve seen of her are either pretty accurate or entirely misleading.

“The less that everybody knows, the better for me,” she said at the prefight news conference. “I feel very fortunate that they have very little footage of me and very little knowledge of everything that’s in my arsenal.”

Tate, a seasoned grappler with a tenacious ability to dictate a fight, will be up against a larger opponent than she’s used to. And so far, an immovable one. Rousey has finished all four of her pro fights via first round armbars, and she did it all in 2011. Since we know of her strength on the ground, this means we’re left to speculate about potential holes in her stand-up game. Tate will have to find out if that’s where Rousey has a weakness.

But that’s only part of the curiosity with this fight. With Rousey’s longest cage adventure lasting just 49 seconds against Charmaine Tweet, deep water may come in the form of something as simple as a second round. It may come in the form of frustration of finding herself in a fight. The bottom line is, she hasn’t been challenged yet. How does she respond to somebody who thwarts her game plan? How does she adapt as a fight goes on?

“I think the thing about Ronda is she’s a very kind of self-righteous person,” Tate said. “She cares more about herself than she does about the sport of women’s MMA and I think what’s she’s done is all about her and marketing herself. She’s talked her way into a title fight in my opinion, and she’s not the No. 1 contender at 135 because she’s never ever fought here. At 4-0, what she’s done is what she’s done. It’s been moderately impressive, but she’s never fought anyone of my caliber, and I think it’s going to be a true test for her.”

The main event, ladies and gentlemen.

Thomson expects best from foe Noons
Josh ThomsonEsther Lin/Forza LLC/Getty ImagesJosh Thomson, above, might be in line for a title shot -- if he can get by K.J. Noons.

In what easily is the best-looking match-up of the night on paper, lightweight Josh Thomson will take on K.J. Noons with plenty on the line. As everybody knows, champion Gilbert Melendez is without a fight right now, and there’s a pretty epic back-story to Thomson and “El Nino.” Thomson has been on a little bit of a bumpy ride of late, having split his last four fights. But should he get by Noons, there’s a good chance that Strikeforce will look to book Thomson/Melendez III, since it’s a rubber match.

All that talk, though, is premature for Thomson, who is expecting to get the best version that anybody’s seen of the obstacle in front of him.

“I think what everyone should understand is that I’m going to get the best K.J. you guys have seen,” he said.

“I think you saw a little bit of it in his fight with Billy [Evangelista]. He’s obviously been working on his wrestling, and working on his wrestling defense. He’s also been working on his kickboxing, not being a flat-footed boxer. So to be honest, it means a lot me to know that, nobody else in Strikeforce has fought the K.J. I’m going to fight. And so for me to get a win over him, it’s going to be great. With a good showing, I definitely think it should be a title shot next. But that’s just obviously my opinion.”

Kazuo Misaki appears in U.S. for only third time
Kazuo MisakiEsther Lin/Getty ImagesKazuo Misaki will be fighting in the not-so-friendly confines of the U.S. for only the third time.

Though he’s stood across from some of the fiercest guys in MMA, Japanese fighter Kazuo Misaki has only fought twice before in America -- at Pride 33 against Frank Trigg (a decision loss), and in his last Strikeforce appearance against Joe Riggs in 2009 (a win via TKO). Now he’ll go against welterweight contender Paul Daley in a fight with plenty of intrigue.

“He represents threats from everywhere,” said Daley. “If you look at his record, like [Strikeforce president] Scott [Coker] said, he’s a tough guy. He’s beat a lot of big names, and I consider him an all-arounder. His stand-up is kind of crazy and a little bit unpredictable. I’m taking this fight very seriously, and he’s a dangerous guy.”

Jardine to get a title shot. Wait, what?

December, 2, 2011
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
Keith JardineMark Rebilas for ESPN.comKeith Jardine doesn't strike anyone as title material at this point in his career.
Somewhere between the process of reinvention, the many eulogies being read over his relevancy, and being cut from the UFC, Keith Jardine must have rubbed a talisman. Not only does he get a short notice fight against heavily favored Gegard Mousasi in Strikeforce (lucky timing) and end up in a fortunate draw (lucky point deduction), but now he’s getting a title shot against Luke Rockhold for the middleweight strap (lucky circumstances) in his middleweight debut.

So much for the pretending to know what’s going on in the Strikeforce war room.

As first reported, the “Dean of Mean” will fight Rockhold for the 185-pound strap on Jan. 7 instead of his Greg Jackson teammate, Tim Kennedy, who had to refuse the bout due to an undisclosed injury. Injuries happen, but this is a confusing choice. Somewhere, former champion Ronaldo Souza is looking up the Portuguese to English translation of “meritocracy.” He and Rockhold engaged in a back-and-forth war back in September that had rematch written all over it. Only hitch in the idea was Kennedy, who had dutifully bided his time for a title shot while walking through Melvin Manhoef and Robbie Lawler to get it.

Yet with Kennedy hurt, Strikeforce dialed Jardine. Maybe they didn’t have long distance on their phone. Not to take anything away from Jardine’s star power and his recent swing of wins (and draws) -- he’s 2-1-1 since being cut from the UFC -- but somebody’s getting jobbed. Maybe Paul Daley would have been up for the task? Not having to cut to 170 pounds might have sounded like sweet music to him, especially with the holidays and all that figgy pudding.

Let’s hope it’s more complicated than we know. Maybe Souza was offered but couldn’t accept the fight for his own set of reasons (such as five week’s notice), though he recently tweeted something that tests such a theory (“Still waiting on Strikeforce to decide when I fight again, they always keep me on the side waiting for too long”).

So how did Jardine, who lost five in a row between the spring of 2009 through the fall of 2010, hurdle “Jacare” for the shot?

Could be anything.
[+] EnlargeRonaldo Souza
Ross Dettman for ESPN.comWas Ronaldo Souza, right, not available for a rematch with Luke Rockhold?

Could be that there’s no depth in the middleweight ranks and Jardine at least is a name, reinvented as a middleweight. Could be that the idea is to bring Rockhold along slowly. Could be that Kennedy suggested to Scott Coker that Jardine stand in for him. Could be that Strikeforce had an unyielding date locked down at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino that only Jardine was open for on that notice. If that’s the case, it would seem like poor planning, even if the future of Strikeforce is unfurling in a corner of Zuffa’s offices at warp speeds.

It could be that Souza didn’t want to play back five rounds of hell with Rockhold, or vice-versa, or that somebody threw a dart at the wall and hit Jardine’s grazing beard. Who knows.

But it looks funny. It’s a fight that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to the usual title defense/challenger model in MMA. In boxing, maybe. But not in MMA. Either way, Jardine is lucky enough to be at the point -- and the point -- of contention. And, realistically, a win in January makes a strange-looking situation in early December look ... less strange.

Is there room for Daley in the UFC at 170?

November, 7, 2011
Dundas By Chad Dundas

For the first time in a long time, things don't sound totally hopeless for Paul Daley.

In a break from his previous declarations that Daley would “never fight in the UFC again” for sucker-punching Josh Koscheck after the bell at UFC 113, Dana White on Saturday night hinted that the British welterweight might one day win his way back into the fight company’s good graces.

"We'll see what happens with [Strikeforce] first ...," the UFC president said at the UFC 138 postfight media conference in Daley’s hometown of Birmingham, England. “The guy's got to win some fights. Any guy who loses in the UFC or other promotions, you lose, and you go get some wins somewhere else and come back."

White may not exactly sound ready to welcome Daley back with open arms just yet, but -- to paraphrase a line from “Dumb and Dumber” -- at least now he’s saying there’s still a chance. For Daley, that’s what passes for progress these days.

If Daley’s prospects now depend more on his win-loss record than his character issues, that’s good news for him. Still, even as White softens his hard-line stance, it feels fair to wonder if Daley could even compete in a UFC 170-pound division that seems to get more competitive each day.
[+] EnlargePaul Daley
Martin McNeil for ESPN.comIf he does return, Paul Daley won't find the UFC's welterweight division in the same condition in which he left it.

Since his dishonorable discharge from the Octagon last year, Daley has gone 6-2 with wins over some decent mid-level talent. He’s just 1-2 in Strikeforce, however, and his losses there to Nick Diaz and Tyron Woodley still feel like the best indicators of how he matches up against top-flight opposition. He’s also failed to make weight three times, which never looks good when you’re trying to rebuild your professional reputation.

Daley was 2-1 in the UFC during 2009-10, but the welterweight class has gone through a considerable overhaul during the past several months. The arrival of Diaz and Jake Shields from Strikeforce, the rise of a new contenders like Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger and the proliferation of wrestle-first standouts like Rick Story, Charlie Brenneman and Johny Hendricks, all make it questionable that Daley could once again be player in the division.

Even if Daley were one day invited back to into the Octagon, his stay there would no doubt be a steady diet of high level grapplers and -- as Koscheck and Woodley both pointed out -- those are his least favorite kind of opponent.

Clearly, any potential future in the UFC is better than none. Yet, as big a trick as it would be for Daley to fight his way back there, the bigger one might be proving he has what it takes to stick around long-term.

Daley wants back in on UFC roster

October, 20, 2011
By Ben Blackmore
Paul Daley is convinced there is a "big opportunity" for him to return to the UFC, insisting there are mega-fights just waiting for him in the shape of Nick Diaz, Anthony Johnson, Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger. More »
Paul Daley has told Tyron Woodley that he is not in Josh Koscheck's league, and he will prove it by sinking the undefeated welterweight at this weekend's Strikeforce event. More »
Josh Koscheck & Paul DaleyEd Mulholland for ESPN.comDown and out: Paul Daley probably won't see action in the Octagon ever again.
UFC president Dana White has reiterated his stance regarding the future of Paul Daley, insisting he stands by his decision to never allow the Brit back into the UFC. More »

Who has most to gain, lose Saturday?

July, 28, 2011
Dundas By Chad Dundas
Strikeforce executive vice president Scott Coker said this week he believes Saturday’s card has the potential to be the best show his organization has ever done. Meanwhile, the rest of us stand around whispering about how long the embattled fight promotion can even survive.

In that regard, maybe it’s fitting that the future of several of this weekend’s competitors appears inexorably tied to the prospects of Strikeforce itself. With the fate of fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson and Paul Daley -- not to mention the entire women’s division -- looking more and more unstable as Strikeforce trends closer to an assumed eventual absorption into UFC, it goes without saying that a lot could be on the line Saturday.

Here’s a glance at who has the most to gain and the most to lose at Strikeforce: Fedor versus Henderson:

Most to gain:

1. Miesha Tate: As noted earlier this week, Tate appears to have all the makings of a breakout star in a Strikeforce women’s division hurt by the absence of its two biggest stars -- Gina Carano and Cristiane Santos. To fulfill that promise, she’ll have to beat Marloes Coenen for the 135-pound title. Tate and Coenen have said they hope their performance goes a long way to showing Zuffa brass that female MMA can be a valuable future part of the company. That, along with an opponent whose submission ability could pose a threat to Tate’s takedown-oriented style, seems like a lot to heap on a 24-year-old who hasn’t fought in almost a year. It’ll be pretty impressive if she can pull it off.

2. Tyron Woodley: Imagine how Woodley’s career might have been different had he not reportedly been one of the final cuts prior to filming season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Instead, James Wilks won that season’s welterweight crown and has since put up an underwhelming 2-2 record in the Octagon. Meanwhile, Woodley has had to build his reputation without a ton of help, netting six straight victories in Strikeforce dating to June 2009. With the welterweight championship vacant after Nick Diaz became the first to cross (back) over to the UFC, a win over Daley could do double-duty -- providing his career its first real signature moment while also putting him on the doorstep of a title shot.

3. Dan Henderson: Henderson could just as easily fall into the “most to lose” category if things get ugly for him against Emelianenko. Especially considering those troubling reports that Zuffa might cut him loose from his bloated contract if he doesn't come out on top. Still, the rewards might outweigh the risks for Hendo against a former heavyweight great considered by most to be in rapid decline. Even with our doubts about Fedor’s future in the sport, moving up a weight class and capturing a win over him would still look great on Henderson’s already extensive resume. Considering the victory would give him three in a row after back-to-back knockouts over Renato Sobral and Rafael Cavalcante, it would also put a good bit of distance between him and his loss to Jake Shields in April 2010, when it looked like Henderson didn’t really want to fight any longer than five minutes.

Most to lose:

1. Fedor Emelianenko: It won’t be unexpected if Fedor loses to Henderson, then retires, but it’ll still be sad. After going nearly 10 years and 28 fights without a loss, Emelianenko built an almost mythic reputation in a sport where he is still arguably the greatest all time. Without overstatement, if this weekend is the last time we see him in the cage, it’ll mark the end of an era in the hearts and minds of longtime fans. Just goes to show, the adage is true: Time, too much ice cream and a complete refusal to ever alter your approach even as the rest of your industry passes you by will make a fool out of all of us.

2. Paul Daley: Daley is 8-2 in his past 10 fights, but you still get the feeling Zuffa is just waiting around to fire the guy, don't you? Since severely limiting his career options by punching Josh Koscheck after the bell at UFC 113, each of the 28-year-old Daley’s moves takes on added significance. The fight against Woodley could mean the difference between a shot at the Strikeforce 170-pound title and having the only thing in his future to look forward to be an as-yet unscheduled BAMMA main event against Nate Marquardt. If those are Daley’s options, he better hope he’s got the wherewithal to choose the former.

3. Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith (tie): It seems like a lifetime since a rematch between these two drew an estimated 2.6 million viewers to EliteXC’s second show on CBS almost exactly three years ago. Lawler won the doomed company’s middleweight strap that night but has since gone 2-3 and faces what amounts to a must-win against the very tough Tim Kennedy on Saturday. Likewise, Smith has lost three of his past four and conceded this week he likely won’t have a job with Strikeforce if he can’t get past 24-year-old prospect Tarec Saffiedine. It'd be a shame to see these guys hit the unemployment line, but that could be the reality if either suffers another loss.

Marquardt lands on his feet ... sort of

July, 22, 2011
Dundas By Chad Dundas
Nate MarquardtJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesCan Nate Marquardt reach the same heights he scaled in 2007?
It admittedly felt good to see things take a positive turn for Nate Marquardt when the embattled fighter inked an exclusive, multifight deal with the UK-based BAMMA organization, as first reported by’s Josh Gross on Friday.

As positive as things can get, that is, for a guy who is still persona non grata in the UFC. A guy who, despite remaining the No. 5 middleweight in the world according to the rankings, appeared to have few good options left after Bellator and even the re-launched ProElite organization recently decided they weren’t interested.

Marquardt and his controversial testosterone replacement therapy have been a hot topic of conversation among message board certified, comment section-approved medical experts ever since he was unexpectedly yanked from the main event of UFC Live 4 and subsequently fired from the company via 12-second internet video in June. Fact is, those of us who aren’t doctors still have no real idea if Marquardt is a cheater or just a victim of his own naiveté, but seeing him at least temporarily close what must have been the most difficult four weeks of his professional career on Friday was a welcome sight.

As obscure as it is in the states, BAMMA appears on the rise after successfully staging six events in England since its debut in 2009. The promotion will undoubtedly move quickly to try to put Marquardt into a fight with Paul Daley for its vacant welterweight title and the middleweight championship currently held by Tom Watson also looks like easy pickings for a fighter the caliber of “Nate the Great.” With the UFC still only committed to one or two shows per year across the pond, the potential exists for BAMMA to be at least a modest regional success (and a profitable one) with Marquardt as a star attraction.
[+] EnlargeNate Marquardt
Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesAfter several rough weeks, things are starting to look up for Nate Marquardt again.

Yet, even as he finds a provisional home in the UK, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Marquardt’s long-term prospects remain pretty bleak so long as he’s unwelcome in the UFC and/or Strikeforce. More and more in MMA, it feels like there are the Zuffa properties -- with their pay-per-view events and cable television deals and accident insurance -- and then everybody else.

It also won’t help Marquardt’s public image that his next fight will take place in England, where drug testing and regulatory efforts are largely left to promoters. Despite what BAMMA Vice President Liam Fisher told Gross about the promotion introducing “mandatory PED tests for title fights and random PED tests both pre- and post-event,” some fans will no doubt see this move as Marquardt trying to avoid further run-ins with American athletic commissions, like the ones in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that contributed to his UFC ouster.

At 32 years old, he’ll still be able to have some marketable fights and make a little money, but so long as Marquardt remains locked out of the UFC, he’ll never again attain the heights he reached while making a run at the middleweight title in 2007 or as relevant as it appeared he was on the verge becoming again with a potential foray into the UFC welterweight division. Those are just the facts, stinging as they are.

Debate will no doubt continue to rage online about what Marquardt may or may not have done to bring about the end of his UFC career. What’s that old saying about opinions? They’re like web sites, everybody has one? Something like that.

In the long run, the only opinions that will matter about Marquardt belong to the guys who hold the keys to the Octagon and, so far, they appear unwavering in their declaration that the former middleweight No. 1 contender will never fight for them again.
Nate Marquardt Martin McNeil for Break out the big guns: Nate Marquardt is firing back at his detractors.
Nate Marquardt has launched an angry backlash at the men criticizing him for his recent suspension from the sport, calling the likes of B.J. Penn and Paul Daley "cowards" and "bullies." More »

• Rumor Central: Marquardt takes down names » Sonnen seeks challenges »

Daley paired with Woodley on July 30

June, 26, 2011
By Ben Blackmore
DaleyMartin McNeil for ESPN.comPaul Daley's return bout might have gone from difficult to extremely tough in Tyron Woodley.
Paul Daley's replacement opponent has been found following the withdrawal of Evangelista Santos, and it is arguably an even more difficult challenge in the shape of Tyron Woodley. More »

'Cyborg' Santos out of clash with Daley

June, 24, 2011
By Ben Blackmore
Paul DaleyDave Mandel for"Anyone wanna fight?" Paul Daley has put the word out he needs an opponent for July 30.
Paul Daley's management team have informed ESPN that the welterweight is searching for a new opponent after Evangelista Santos was ruled out of their July 30 clash. More »

Welter stars queue up to back GSP victory

April, 20, 2011
Dan Hardy has fought Georges St. Pierre and trained teammate Paul Daley for a fight with Jake Shields, so he is in a good position to predict that the UFC welterweight champion wins in Toronto, regardless of where the fight goes. More »

Diaz tops April 9 payroll with $175K

April, 14, 2011
By Mike Whitman/">Archive
Nick DiazMark J. Rebilas for ESPN.comBest of both worlds: Nick Diaz beat Paul Daley to a pulp and got paid handsomely to do it.
Nick Diaz was the big winner on Saturday, as the Strikeforce welterweight champion took home the largest purse from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. Diaz earned $175,000 for his back-and-forth title defense against British bomber Paul Daley ($65,000) in the titular main event of Strikeforce’s April 9 show.

Strikeforce lightweight titleholder Gilbert Melendez also took home a handsome haul, as “El Nino” pocketed $150,000 for his one-sided battle with former Shooto champ Tatsuya Kawajiri ($97,612.50).

Also earning $150,000 for his efforts was Dream light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. The Red Devil representative fought UFC veteran Keith Jardine ($25,000) to a majority draw after being penalized a point in round one for landing an illegal upkick to Jardine’s face.

Another Dream champ, lightweight Shinya Aoki, took home $73,637.50 for his easy submission victory over Lyle Beerbohm ($10,000). In a battle of famously colorful ring attires, Aoki outclassed Beerbohm on the ground, locking up a fight-ending neck crank just 93 seconds into the bout.

Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Daley” payouts:

Nick Diaz -- $175,000 def. Paul Daley -- $65,000
Gilbert Melendez -- $150,000 def. Tatsuya Kawajiri -- $97,612.50
Gegard Mousasi -- $150,000 drew with Keith Jardine -- $25,000
Shinya Aoki -- $73,637.50 def. Lyle Beerbohm -- $10,000
Robert Peralta -- $4,000 (including $2,000 win bonus) def. Hiroyuki Takaya -- $2,740
Virgil Zwicker -- $3,000 (including $1,000 win bonus) def. Brett Albee -- $1,000
Joe Duarte -- $2,000 (including $1,000 win bonus) def. Saad Awad -- $1,500
Herman Terrado -- $1,500 (including $500 win bonus) def. A.J. Matthews -- $1,000
Rolando Perez -- $3,000 (including $1,000 win bonus) def. Edgar Cardenas -- $1,000
Casey Ryan -- $2,000 (including $1,000 win bonus) def. Paul Song -- $750