Kazuo Misaki earned a victory in his Strikeforce debut this evening against an unusually subdued Paul Daley.

The first round was a good one for Mizaki. With Daley starting a little slowly he was the one who appeared to find his range quickly and connected solidly with his punches throughout the round.

When the unusually hesitant did unleash some offense in the form of a kick Misaki quickly caught it and dumped him on the mat for his troubles. To his credit Daley did a good job of getting back to his feet, but things certainly weren’t going his way.

Misaki then came on even stronger with his stand-up and backed Daley up against the cage after catching him with a shot and then unleashed a flurry of strikes.

Daley then gave a clear indication that he wasn’t settling into the striking battle when he landed a takedown of his own. He didn’t do a great deal with the position though, only posturing up for strikes in the final seconds of the round, and when he did so Misaki smartly swept him just as the bell sounded.

Onto the second round and Daley was still looking unusually lethargic in the cage and Misaki was again getting the better of the striking exchanges.

That prompts ‘Semtex’ to once again plant the former PRIDE fighter onto his back via a takedown. Again he wasn’t able to do a great deal of damage from the position however, and eventually he looked to advance position, but though he was able to get side control when he attempted to take Misaki’s back it was a step to far and the Japanese fighter smoothly reversed the position.

Misaki landed some ground and pound, but with not a whole lot of action happening the referee stood them up in the dying stages of the round.

Onto the third round and Daley appeared to have completely thrown his normal striking gameplan out of the window as he took Misaki down once again.

As before he struggled to be able to get much in the way of offense off from inside Misaki’s guard, but he did land a short chopping elbow and it produced some major damage, with a huge cut immediately forming above his eye which bled prefusely and forced a doctor’s stoppage.

Misaki was fit to continue though despite being covered in blood and it seemed this was a perfect opportunity for Daley to really go after him as they reset on the feet, but he still looked uncharacteristically tentative out there and never really went all out for the finish in the final minutes of the fight, and in fact was still hunting for takedowns late in the round.

And so it was on to the judges verdict and they awarded Misaki a split decision victory, 30-27, 28-29, 29-28.

This was a nice win for Misaki over a respected opponent, but i’ll be interested to hear in the aftermath of this event whether there was some issue with Daley as he just didn’t appear to be himself out there at all this evening.