Nate Diaz: Needle-Mover, Biggest Star In The UFC?
The UFC has the old Nate Diaz back after the former title contender returned from a three-year layoff and dominated Anthony Pettis.
UFC president Dana White is on board.
Mixed martial arts fans around the world have been for years.
At UFC 241 this past weekend, Nate Diaz proved that not only is he a huge star outside the Octagon, he is a big one inside of it.
Diaz went out, after a three-year layoff from competitive fighting, and dominated former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis for the better part of three rounds and 15 minutes. Pettis was coming off a knockout of former UFC title challenger Stephen Thompson and appeared to be his old “Showtime” self once more.
Of course, we now know that a serious foot injury hindered some of the offense that Pettis was planning on using, but credit Diaz for taking him out of his game and for imploring his typical style of constant pressure.
White, who once stated that he didn’t feel Diaz had the star power to get behind, said during the UFC 241 post-fight press conference “He’s a needle-mover now.”
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That sums it up very easily.
Diaz made headlines last week in the lead-up to the card by enjoying some “smoke” and also by asking to skip media day, to which the UFC agreed. Whether that was White and company seeing they didn’t need more out of Diaz or a way to keep him out of trouble, it worked.
UFC 241 Broke Records Thanks To Nate Diaz
Fans tuned in for both the return of Diaz and the heavyweight championship match between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. The event generated a California mixed martial arts record gate of $3.237 million with a sellout crowd of 17,304 packing inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Related: UFC 241 Results: Stipe Miocic Stuns Daniel Cormier, Nate Diaz Returns
The 34-year-old Diaz fought in the WEC and Strikeforce over his first seven fights before signing with the UFC in 2007. He has spent the remainder of his career fighting inside the Octagon. The first main event for Diaz came in 2008 when he earned a split decision over Josh Neer.
He headlined back-to-back cards in 2009 and 2010 against Melvin Guillard and Gray Maynard, but it would be a couple years again until he earned that lead role when he submitted Jim Miller on FOX. A few months later, Diaz challenged then-champion Benson Henderson for the lightweight title – again on FOX – dropping a decision.
You could tell the UFC was ready to get behind Diaz with his several main event fights and push to the title, but things sputtered a bit as he went 2-2 over the course of two years.
The Man Who Answered The Conor McGregor Call
However, when the UFC and Conor McGregor came calling in 2016 in need of a fighter willing to meet “Notorious” at welterweight, who answered the call? Diaz. Related: Nate Diaz Has All The Pressure On Him
Diaz earned a second round submission victory over McGregor, dealing him his first UFC defeat at that time. Later that year, Diaz accepted a rematch and lost a closely contested majority decision.
The key now is to remain active, stay in the spotlight and see where the UFC can take him, as it is quite evident that the MMA world is ready to enjoy each and every round and media session involving Nate Diaz.