by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
It’s a blessing for Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith to have fought in so many wars, even if he’s a little banged up.

He’ll be facing Nick Diaz at a catch-weight of 180 pounds next Saturday at “Shields vs. Lawler” in St. Louis, just shy of two months after brawling with Benji Radach at the promotion’s exclusive debut with Showtime Networks in April.

Smith took plenty of shots in the nearly 15-minute fight and received stitches in his eyelid. But he says he’s healed up now, or at least as healed up as anyone can be with the kind of schedule he’s had in the past two years.

“I have a tendency after fights of getting out of shape,” said Smith during a Wednesday teleconference promoting the June 6 bout. “I stop my training camp, and half of my training camp is just getting back into shape, and I’m not learning. Although I did get banged up in the Benji fight, I stayed in great shape. I started training three days after the fight. And that’s the key to me, cardio, especially when you’re fighting a guy like Nick Diaz, who has excellent cardio. I wasn’t going and asking for a fight right away, but I’m glad I did accept it.”

Radach has indicated his desire to challenge the result of the fight – he was stopped when Smith knocked him out in the third with a counter right hand after Smith nearly succumbed to his – claiming Smith’s follow-up included illegal punches that should change the decision to a no-contest.

Smith concedes he landed the illegal blow, but thinks the talk is unnecessary.

“I think it’s pretty unfortunate,” he said. “I think it’s taking away from what was such a great fight. Win or lose, that was a great fight for both of us. He looked great up until he got caught at the end. So I think he’s kind of taking away from that. I don’t think anything’s going to come of this appeal. I think it’s just trying to re-assure a rematch down the road. But I think that fight was such a great fight that we’d rematch no matter what.”

And while he’s open to a second fight with Radach, he has concerns over what happens if he defeats Diaz. Diaz’s victory over Frank Shamrock scrambled Strikeforce’s plans to set up a fourth quarter rematch between the former middleweight champion and current champion Cung Le. Le has indicated he wants to return, but is also considerate of his burgeoning movie career.

Smith thinks the promotion needs to create another opportunity for its fighters.

“(Le) is the champion, but we’ve got to get something going, like an interim belt,” he said. “We can’t just sit around and wait forever. Especially after this card, there’s going to be some guys deserving that title.”

For now, though, those thoughts are on the back burner. He’s not looking past Diaz.

“I’m anticipating a knockout,” said Smith. “I’ll be going for it in the first round. Whether it happens or not, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as it doesn’t go the distance.”