Nate Diaz is one of very few fighters who have successfully honed their craft while competing on the largest stage possible. Refining one’s skills is a daunting task on local circuits, to be forced to learn on the job while tangling with the world’s elite crop of fighters is a borderline crime, but it certainly serves to separate the men from the boys, and in few cases, produces truly spectacular competitors. Nate Diaz is a young man who fits the spectacular bill however, it hasn’t been an easy road to maturation, as I’m certain Nate himself would testify.
Ultimate Fighter 5th Season
With just seven bouts under his belt, Diaz was accepted into the Ultimate Fighter house for the reality series’ fifth season. Then toting a professional record of 5-2, many believed Diaz possessed the skills to prosper in the house, but given the level of talent featured on the show, there was certainly no guarantee affixed. Diaz would indeed go on to win the tournament, taking out Manny Gamuryan in the series finale, and securing a long term relationship with the UFC. Since that fight, Nate’s faced a slew of quality foes (many of which boasted significant experience edges), and in the vast majority of his UFC outings, he’s risen to the occasion. In fact, even in the five bouts he’s dropped while fighting for the promotion, he’s been fairly competitive (sans the Rory MacDonald fight).
Early victories over Kurt Pellegrino, Josh Neer and Melvin Guillard served as high points for the younger Diaz’s career, but the mandated lightweight mark of 156 (for non-title bouts) pounds began to take a toll on the lengthy Diaz, and it showed in his performances. A Leap to welterweight would transpire in 2010, and Diaz looked to have a solid foothold on the transition, as he toppled Rory Markham and Marcus Davis consecutively. A general strength differential however would later become apparent when colliding with the likes of Dong Hyun Kim and the aforementioned Rory MacDonald.
2011 saw Diaz adjust his diet and once more venture to the lightweight division, where he’s looked like an absolute monster since. Increased focus on his striking skills has become more than apparent, as he’s looked crisp and quite precise in his most recent outings; in September he battered former Pride Fighting Championship star Takanori Gomi before snatching an armbar to finish the fight in the first frame; a dominant three round pummeling of surging contender, Donald Cerrone would follow in December. Diaz looked more professional boxer than stretched mixed martial artist in both displays. His jab has evolved at an alarming rate, and he’s begun unleashing frightening combinations while maintaining sound defensive abilities.
Opportunity To Fight
Another meeting with a high caliber wrestler is the one remaining test that Diaz must now face. If he can stifle the division’s top wrestlers, he stands to emerge as a very serious threat to the divisional title. His striking has matured as he has, and his submission skills are amongst the best you’ll find in the division. If he’s worked to strengthen his defensive wrestling, we may see Nate afforded the opportunity to fight for that coveted belt.
You can also follow The MMA Zone on Twitter here.