Nate Diaz: The undeniable star
Even in a massively one-sided defeat, Nate Diaz proved on saturday night why he is such a massive asset to the UFC. The Diaz brothers had always been huge fan favourites and cult icons for MMA fans but this exploded into the mainstream with Nate’s win over Conor McGregor at UFC 196. Though he went on to lose the rematch with McGregor, Nate’s stock hasn’t dropped one small bit and that’s partly down to the fights he takes and the performances he produces every single time.
Since his rivalry with Conor McGregor came to a pause, Diaz went inactive from August of 2016 to August of 2019. With fights being rumoured and a bout with Dustin Poirier being scheduled and then called off, fans questioned whether we would even see Nate Diaz back in an octagon. It seemed likely that the only way Nate would compete again would be if he was standing across the cage from a certain Irishman. On his return to the UFC, Nate picked Anthony Pettis to be his opponent. Not only did they have history that was never settled, Pettis had just made a huge impact on his welterweight debut with a superman punch KO over Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
Nate won the fight conivingly, bullying Pettis for three rounds but this wasn’t the talking point that he left the fans with. As fans waited to hear what Nate Diaz would have to say on his return, the 209 OG mentioned one name, Jorge Masvidal. With Masvidal being the most talked about fighter in the sport at the time after he knocked out Ben Askren in five seconds, the fight was a no brainer.
Scheduled to headline Madison Square Garden for UFC 244, the BMF title fight was created and even though Diaz lost the fight, he managed to maintain his BMF reputation. With the doctor stopping the fight due to Diaz’s cuts, he still had the appreciation of the fans for wanting to continue. You know what you’re getting with Nate Diaz, even when he had convincingly lost all three rounds up to that point, the fighting spirit of Nate Diaz will never die and that’s why fans love him.
Fast forward to his next fight at UFC 263. Inactive for a year and a half, Diaz surprises just about everybody by accepting a fight with top welterweight Leon Edwards. With Edwards on an eight fight win streak, he was struggling to get opponents due to the fight being seen as high risk low reward. When others won’t risk it, Nate Diaz steps in. Being effectively beaten from pillar to post for 24 minutes of the fight, the Diaz toughness kept him in the contest when many wouldn’t have survived. With one minute left on the clock, Nate produced a vintage Diaz combination, a right hand slap followed with a straight left hand behind it.
To say the shot wobbled Leon Edwards would be a massive understatement, forcing him to do nothing but survive for the remaining minute. Though Edwards dominated the fight, the resilience and star power of Nate Diaz became the main talking point of the fight. For a Nate Diaz fan, the first 24 minutes of the fight are irrelevant, had the fight lasted two more minutes, Diaz could’ve won the bout. Despite not getting his arm raised, Nate Diaz left UFC 263 as a huge winner in the eyes of the fans and the UFC who know they can always bet on the Diaz brothers to put on a show. The legacy of the Diaz brothers remains undefeated.