Opinion: Interesting Challenges Await Nate Diaz in 2014
By Michael Hatamoto
UFC lightweight Nate Diaz stopped a two-fight losing streak Saturday night at the TUF 18 Finale, by finishing longtime rival Gray Maynard, picking up a TKO win in the first round.
Diaz finished the fight with a continued barrage of punches that led to Maynard stumbling to the mat after the referee pulled Diaz away. It dramatically ended a rivalry that started when both fighters were on The Ultimate Fighter, and the trilogy fight could have ended Maynard’s career.
Here is what Diaz said at the post-fight press conference:
“I feel like I hit hard all the time, but sometimes I just keep going. Instead of a full-blown power shot, I feel like maybe a lot more accurate punches will do. But if I slow it down and try to hit you hard, I’m going to hit you. My brother was going over some stuff with me in the back. He told me that if I was going to land anything to make sure it was solid and hard and not just overwhelming.”
Following a very impressive performance, and showing his continued improvement, Diaz demonstrated he still has the motivation to compete at a high level. Diaz might think the Maynard knockout thrusts him back into the lightweight title mix, but that likely isn’t true.
I’d like to see the UFC match Diaz up with Rafael dos Anjos or Rustam Khabilov sometime in early 2014, so it will be fun to see which opponents interest the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter. I’m sure Diego Sanchez will call out Diaz again, though that’s a matchup that doesn’t really make sense to the lightweight division – but would entertain casual MMA fans.
The UFC isn’t afraid to give Diaz another title shot in the future, but only after he puts together a few solid wins and earns the chance. Since he wants to fight big-name opponents and as frequently as possible, I look forward to watching him try to climb back towards the top of the division.