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Even as Strikeforce welterweight champion, Nick Diaz feels disrespected

Two belts at risk at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg Saturday on Showtime

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Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz administers a ground and pound attack on K.J. Noons in a title fight last September. Diaz won a unanimous decision and next defends his belt Saturday against Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos.

Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz celebrates after defeating K.J. Noons via unanimous decision last September.

Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz celebrates after defeating K.J. Noons via unanimous decision last September.

After listening to Nick Diaz's comments on a recent conference call, it would be difficult to gather that he's fighting Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos to defend his Strikeforce welterweight title Saturday.

Diaz (23-7) kept his answers about Cyborg (18-13) brief, but spared no words while taking aim at other mixed martial arts fighters. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and his last challenger, Josh Koscheck, elicited the most scorn from Diaz.

"We've got some guy who doesn't even fight, he drinks at a bar, and they get him to fight Josh Koscheck one day," Diaz said. "He doesn't even know who he's fighting. I never had fights like that. So when you bring up guys like that to me and say 'best fighters in the world,' that's a (expletive) joke to me."

Diaz also predicted that his training partner and friend, Jake Shields, would dethrone St. Pierre at UFC 129 in Toronto. He said he would do the same given the opportunity.

But Diaz is under contract with Strikeforce and hasn't competed in the UFC since 2006, so his talk can't amount to much. Diaz will have to settle for attempting to pick up his ninth straight win Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., against Cyborg in the card's Main Event.

"I think this is the best fight right now," he said. "I would agree to that, but I want to fight Georges St. Pierre."

Diaz is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over K.J. Noons, which avenged his only loss in nearly five years. He's seemingly attracting more attention and respect than ever before.

But Diaz says that's not enough.

"I'd like to get paid," Diaz said. "Pacquiao is making $40 (expletive) million and GSP is making a couple million dollars. I'm over here driving a (expletive) Honda."

Part of the reason Diaz says he's the best in the world is because of his training and diet regimen. He competes in numerous triathlons every year and has switched to a strict vegan diet, even though it means driving more than an hour from his home to pick up food.

"It helps me get in shape for five rounds," Diaz said. "Once I'm in pretty good shape and overall athleticism, I can start to focus on the fight."

Diaz is considered a heavy favorite over Cyborg, who is 1-1 in Strikeforce. Cyborg's wife, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, is the current Strikeforce women's middleweight champion, which means a win could make the couple the first husband/wife to hold titles together.

The men's middleweight belt also is at risk at Saturday's Strikeforce card. In the co-Main Event, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza will try to defend his title against Robbie Lawler.

It's seen as a classic grappler-versus-striker matchup, with Lawler preferring to brawl and Souza's expertise being in jiu-jitsu.

"We've taken him very serious," Souza said through a translator. "I've trained a lot with my cardio, my explosiveness and my boxing."

"I know he's a good boxer, but I'm ready to fight."

That makes for at least one champion who's focused on the opponent standing in front of him.

"I started fighting before most of them in the UFC including GSP," Diaz said. "So, I was really mad at first that they were getting recognition when I was here first. I thought it was first come, first serve and I was here first and I was working harder."

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or case.keefer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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