Friend of our site

MMA Headlines


Bleacher Report

MMA Fighting

MMA Torch

MMA Weekly

Sherdog (News)

Sherdog (Articles)

Liver Kick

MMA Junkie

MMA Mania

MMA Ratings

Rating Fights

Yahoo MMA Blog

MMA Betting

Search this site

Latest Articles

News Corner

MMA Rising

Audio Corner


Sherdog Radio

Video Corner

Fight Hub

Special thanks to...

Link Rolodex

Site Index

To access our list of posting topics and archives, click here.

Friend of our site

Buy and sell MMA photos at MMA Prints

Site feedback

Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

« | Home | »

Nick Diaz’s prospects against boxers like Sergio Martinez & Jeff Lacy

By Zach Arnold | April 14, 2011

Print Friendly and PDF

Article written by Robert Poole

Nick Diaz, the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, has always been able to use his striking skills to keep things exciting and make himself an interesting dream fight candidate which only seems to be bestowed these days to a few select non-UFC fighters that keep things interesting.

These skills have worked against MMA fighters, but now Diaz wants to expand that stand up striking game and fight professional boxers to prove his skill set is as good as his bragging about it has been. The names that have been tossed out there seem like a giant leap for anyone that has not trained in boxing long or worse hasn’t had an extensive amateur background. The amateurs really train your body’s muscle memory to know how to react when people throw punches at you. In MMA, you can shoot in to avoid strikes or attempt clinches in which you can back someone against the cage to gain position. Neither is possible in Boxing and, more than anything, head movement and footwork are the keys to the technique and style required to be successful.

The aforementioned names in the press: Jeff Lacy, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga and Sergio Martinez, are amazing if you think about it. All are former champions with serious credentials that probably make them far too difficult for Diaz to just jump in with.

Let’s break these opponents down a bit.

Diaz’s technique is where I think he is going to stumble, in my opinion. Aside from the lack of amateur boxing experience, I mentioned earlier he throws wide looping hooks and a lot of slap punches where he is keeping his arms out there as a strategic defensive tactic. Boxers often do this to use their reach to prevent a guy from getting in on them though most referees are not fans of it and warn the boxers about it, especially if they use the glove to push their heads back. Wladimir Klitschko is one of the worst offenders in this regard but he does it because it’s safer than having to always jab and keep your opponent outside your reach.

Diaz also doesn’t show a lot of Boxing-style footwork. He’s flat-footed, in fairness this could be because he doesn’t wear boots or shoes but it also keeps him off his toes which is a big factor in Boxing, and he doesn’t seem to move side to side to avoid a lot of shots. Also, his head movement is non-existent. He doesn’t move his head unless there’s a clear punch right in his face at that moment. He gives fighters a stationary target and boxers tend to destroy opponents that do that. Another big drawback is he keeps his hands low. Aside from the obvious taunting he does all too often in which he puts his hands down, he keeps them low naturally and eats a lot of shots in the cage because of it. His lack of defense against Paul Daley allowed him to get caught with a short straight left hand that dropped him and had him in trouble late in the first round this past weekend.

Another not-yet-mentioned potential opponent might be Kermit Cintron. Cintron doesn’t have a meaningful fight awaiting him in his division after the strange ending to the Paul Williams fight where he was dumped over the top rope and landed on his head. So, he could be a possibility because he will need a pay day. He has long called for a fight with an MMA opponent since a few have considered what Diaz wants to attempt now, previously.

Ultimately, Diaz would need to spend a considerable amount of time in the gym sharpening up his boxing skills. Boxing is not just about punching, it’s about movement. A different type of movement than employed in MMA. You’re not worrying about sprawling or guarding from your back, you’re worried about the fluidity of circling the ring, moving side to side to avoid punches, keeping your head moving and making it hard for your opponent to key in on a place to hit you. Diaz has the unfortunate habit of pulling straight back after being hit, a natural instinct for a real life fight but a no-no in boxing where the second shot in a combination can be far worse than the first.

Against the opponents he’s mentioned, I don’t see him succeeding. If he were serious about boxing, he would do well to follow the Tom Zbikowski route by working your way up against a few lower echelon fighters every couple of weeks and using that time to establish your training and skills and prepare you for a top level fighter. Nobody’s saying he has to take five years to get to that point but as often as MMA guys say that Boxing alone doesn’t translate to the cage, it’s equally true that MMA level striking alone doesn’t translate to the ring.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “Nick Diaz’s prospects against boxers like Sergio Martinez & Jeff Lacy”

  1. I thought about making a long review, but its silly since nothing will happen. Anyhow, Diaz would be competitive with Vargas or Lacy, but frankly neither guy should be licensed and I hope none of those fights are made.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I have to agree with Alan here. The more I think about this, the less I think it will happen.

      Diaz’s trainers are trying to get leverage that really isn’t there. Gracie is like an only child acting out now that he has a younger brother. He is mad that all of his fighters won’t be able to get easy paychecks anymore and there stock is likely only to go down.

      Shields will lose to GSP. Diaz is a guy waiting to lose a 3 round decision to a wrestler. Melendez is really the only one with a chance of getting a belt and getting an even bigger payday.

      • This story has played out before. Rampage “retired” then returned with a new car and bigger contract. Same probably happens with Diaz. Its not like Zuffa can say to Diaz that they don’t have a few thousand more dollars to give him.

      • Light23 says:

        45 – how come you don’t give Shields a chance against GSP? I think Shields will put on a tough, gutsy performance that makes things very difficult for GSP.

        I wouldn’t be shocked to see Shields win, even though GSP is the solid favourite to take it.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Having watched a lot of Jake Shield’s past fights, he struggled A LOT when he couldn’t get a takedown. He is going to have a long period of this fight on the feet as GSP is hard to takedown. And the longer he is standing, the better chance for him to be KO’d.

          Is there a slight chance he grinds out a decision? Absolutely. But this is more likely going to look like GSP/Fitch, only with Shields being stopped.

  2. Robert Poole says:


    Lacy’s speed would do him in but I don’t think Diaz’s chin could hold up against Vargas and heck if any of those guys caught him he’d be toast. Paul Daley’s boxing skills and power is less than all of those guys and Diaz damn near got knocked out this past weekend.

    • Lacy has one arm and his head might not be there. Vargas is only considering getting in the ring because his original manager robbed him blind and left him with almost nothing. He’s fat, overweight, and way, way past shot. Diaz would be at least competitive with those guys because neither one can probably punch at this point. If they couldn’t they wouldn’t be considering fighting Nick Diaz. They’d be taking nightclub fights and waiting for a call up to HBO for one last payday.

      • Robert Poole says:


        To be honest, aside from anyone named Pacquiao, Mayweather, Martinez and maybe a few other fighters, guys would be lining up for this fight because there are few big name paydays to be had for guys in their prime let alone guys that aren’t. Even outside their prime and yes Lacy is in bad shape as is Vargas, I think that Diaz’ boxing skills are dramatically overrated and I think many good amateurs would take him apart. He doesn’t use correct footwork or head movement, he keeps his hands too low, he moves straight backward after being hit, he’s way too easy to hit and he would be crushed by a boxer with any power or skill.

        • We’re arguing different things, and besides, its irrelevant anyhow because its just a ploy to get more money. He’s not really going to take a boxing match against anyone, even a shot to pieces Jeff Lacy. Who the hell is going to buy this fight? Showtime?

        • edub says:

          Alan is completely correct talking about Diaz chances against either Jeff or Vargas. Nick would give Lacy trouble just because he is so shopworn, and frankly he would steamroll Vargas. Vargas hasn’t fought since 2007, hasn’t fought a meaningful fight since 2006, was past his prime in 2005, and will be fighting 20 lbs over his optimal weight class, (add in all the stuff Alan said about him)and you realize he shouldn’t be in the ring with Diaz at this point.

          As for anybody with any power or skill, Nick just beat a fighter last year with an 11-2 professional record in a fight that was 90 % boxing. Nick will do fine with certain boxers, and he would lose badly to others (Martinez).

        • Steve4192 says:

          “I think that Diaz’ boxing skills are dramatically overrated and I think many good amateurs would take him apart.”

          While I agree that Diaz’s boxing skills as shown in the Cage look sloppy, I suspect they are better than you are giving him credit for. It’s hard to judge a guy’s straight-up boxing skills when he is fighting barefoot with four ounce gloves and is looking to fend off takedowns.

          Guys like Andre Ward and Omar Henry wouldn’t waste their time sparring with him if he was a guy who would ‘get taken apart by a good amateur’. He has to offer them something in the ring or they wouldn’t bother sparring with him.

    • Steve4192 says:

      “Paul Daley’s boxing skills and power is less than all of those guys and Diaz damn near got knocked out this past weekend.”

      I don’t know if that is a fair comparison. Paul Daley might not hit as hard as those guys, but they won’t be wearing 4 oz gloves either. Diaz has a pretty damn sturdy chin.

  3. Peroxsigh says:

    I like how no one mantions Lacy lost a a 23-19 bum in his last fight and both Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga campaign at 154 while Diaz is a 170lbs fight.

    martinez has only been 3 fights removed from 154 himself. You have a current Bum in jeff lacy and 3 incredibly undersized fighters. Why doesn’t Nick just call out a relevant Prospect around his weight instead.

    The Black Russian for example, Ismayl Sillakh.

    • edub says:

      You make some good points until you bring up Martinez. That’s the best boxer in the world at 160 lbs, and only behind Floyd and Manny for best at any weight class.

      • The Gaijin says:

        Agreed in full – Martinez roughed up Kelly Pavlik who is a huge 160lb fighter and is moving up to 168 full time. Pavlik is also a pressure fighter, has a ton of skill, hits like a Mac truck and has an even bigger reach than Diaz and Martinez took it to him pretty hard.

        Diaz would get absolutely slaughtered against Martinez. There’s a world of difference between him fighting shot fighters w/ “name” (if they even have any weight at all anymore) and fighting the best boxer(s) in the world at or near his weight class.

    • Robert Poole says:

      Fair enough point about Lacy being shot. I think though the question for me at least is this: Are Nick Diaz’ boxing skills actually good enough to win against a halfway competent boxer? To me when you look at his fundamentals, I have to say no. I did say that he has the best chance against Lacy above. And I think his style would work for a competitive (depending on chin and defensive improvement) and interesting fight with Mayorga. I’m not as sure about the others because as shot as Vargas might be, the guys he’s lost to are a solar system away from the talent level of Diaz, so he might be able to mop the floor with him rather easily.

  4. mmafan2 says:

    Let’s also not forget that Diaz fought Takanori Gomi at 160 not too long ago, so he is capable of dropping weight and is not a particularly large welterweight.

    • Robert Poole says:

      Absolutely, I could see 160 being a reasonable catchweight for the 154 pounders, especially since Mayorga and Martinez are both large 154 lb. guys who could fight at (and have fought at, in Martinez’ case) Middleweight with no issue. And IIRC Vargas has blown up a bit since his last fight..

    • Jonathan says:

      “Not so long ago” was over four years ago.

  5. […] put up a nice article about Nick Diaz’s chances against some potential boxing opponents. I have to side with the […]

  6. MK says:

    Vargas and Lacy have legit brain damage. I’d lose a lot of respect for Showtime if they show either against anyone under any format.

    Martinez is probably out of the question both in terms of sanctioning and money.

    Mayorga is the only realistic name. It would be a fun freakshow fight.

    This whole thing is incredibly stupid. Boxing fans won’t care so I don’t see the ‘big’ money Diaz wants

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    Just like there was no reason for James Toney to be in the UFC…. There is no reason for Diaz to box a fighter with any sort of higher skill level.

    Even Dana White has said that if UFC fighters went to boxing they would get wrecked.

    And it’s not like Diaz’s is one of MMA’s best boxers. GSP and Penn have some great natural boxing skills and they would both get wrecked eventually.

    Diaz’s style works against sluggers with small gloves. His style wouldn’t allow one punch to land with big boxing gloves on. Not to mention his arms would get exhausted using that style.

    • edub says:

      GSP is not on the level of best boxers in MMA. He has good skills, and decent footwork but the only reason he has any success against guys is because the threat of the best takedowns in MMA is too great to ignore.

      Penn has great hands, but his cardio drops off in fights and his work rate is no where near Nick’s.

  8. I seriously doubt whether any of these major boxing matches involving Diaz take place.
    I mean, Nick does have some mad skills as far as his hands are concerned in MMA & I think he could do as well as KJ Noons does in the ring. But, those contests are against 6 round class journeymen opponents. Not former world champions & current top fighters… A massive difference.
    Hell, I love watching Nick fight & I’d love to see him get a few 6 or 8 rounders under his belt against some decent trial horses. Then, judging how he performs in those contests they could step him up vs a name. But, to just toss him in there against a top notch fighter straight away is likely asking just too much IMO.
    Especially if his people are actually considering someone like a “Maravilla” Martinez. THAT would be a disaster even given the size difference.
    Still a HUGE step up for Diaz, but a much more managable one given the fact that Vargas is well past it, hasn’t been active in years, has a vulnerable chin & soft tissue around his eyes…


To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
Anti-spam image