There are those special moments when a star is born and for Nate Diaz, his star was born on Saturday night in front of a national audience. A dominant performance by Diaz topped the most exciting UFC on FOX broadcast of the three specials.
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller headlined a four-fight UFC on FOX 4 prime time special that saw three finishes and one exciting three-round welterweight eliminator that went to the judges. But it was Diaz’s win in my opinion that was the most impressive as he tapped out Miller in front of his home town audience.
[adinserter block=”2″]Diaz and Miller fought in what turned out to be a top contender’s fight. Miller came into the fight 2-1 against Diaz’s 3-0 winning streak. Yet even with the better winning streak in his last three fights, Diaz was a light underdog going into the fight. Diaz came into the fight on most sports books as a +190 dog to Miller’s -250 as the favorite. Needless to say if you bet on Diaz you made yourself quite a few bucks on Saturday night.
Diaz dominated the fight with a beautiful mix of standup and ground. Miller opened early with a leg kick that I thought would set the tone of the fight. The fighters then went into a few clinches, one of which saw Diaz nail Miller with a knee and elbow on the inside. Diaz rocked Miller early with a left and tried to finish him but Miller survived an onslaught to move to the second round.
The second round saw Nate take a page out of brother’s book and start mocking Miller’s ineffective standup game. I don’t know if he got in Miller’s head or what but Miller came out of nowhere with a flying knee during the taunting. Diaz then picked Miller apart before sinking in a beautiful guillotine choke to win the fight. Nate also became the first fighter to stop Jim Miller in Miller’s MMA career.
In a surprising move UFC president Dana White said that Nate earned himself a UFC title shot against the Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar UFC 150 winner. I say surprising because it was expected that Anthony Pettis would get that fight. Dana White said at the post fight presser that Diaz was offered to sit and wait for the UFC 150 winner or fight again (presumably against Pettis) and Nate chose to wait. I can’t help but think that seeing his brother blow his championship fight against Carlos Condit had a lot to do with influencing Nate Diaz’s decision. I can’t say I blame him as there have been many fighters who blew guaranteed title shots by taking unnecessary fights. This would presumably keep Diaz on the sidelines for at least six-seven months.
I may be making more out of this than some but I think this was a big coming out party for Nate. I have read some MMA columnists remark lately that Nate is only getting high profile fights due to his brother’s notoriety. Well any talk of Nate riding off of Nick’s coattails should be put to rest forever after the impressive performance Nate delivered in the clutch.
I am all aboard the Nate Diaz train. Diaz’s return to lightweight has so far proven to be a very smart move for the BJJ practitioner. While Nate is a lot less controversial than his brother Nick, the Diaz name will always make Nate a polarizing fighter. Dana White knows this, Joe Silva knows this, and the Fertittas know this which is why Nate has shot ahead of Pettis to the front of the line.
[adinserter block=”1″]Diaz now has to be talked about with the elite of The Ultimate Fighter alumni. Most cite Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin when they talk about the successful TUF alumni and winners. If Diaz wins the lightweight championship I think he moves ahead of Forrest and could overtake Rashad as the most successful alumni ever if he can put together a successful string of title defenses. In my opinion, Diaz’s accomplishments since TUF have been highly underrated when evaluating past TUF fighters and winners.
With Nick’s suspension all up in the air and tangled up in legal issues, by the time he gets back to fighting he and Nate could wind up challenging for titles on the same show. That would certainly be something to see.