In the co-main event at UFC 141, lightweight contenders Nate Diaz (14-7) and Donald Cerrone (17-3) will battle in a grudge match that fans are anticipating to be one of the best fights of the year.
Win or lose, Diaz is always in an exciting fight. All but one of his UFC victories have come by submission or knockout, including those over Takanori Gomi, Marcus Davis, Kurt Pellegrino and Rory Markham. Seven of his fights have earned him post-fight bonuses.
Cerrone brings an impressive record to the Octagon, and his six-fight win streak includes four of those coming in 2011, all of which were in the UFC. 14 of his 17 wins have ended by submission or knockout.
The "Cowboy" enters the bout as the favorite, and the consensus pick is for him to win a competitive and closely-contested decision, which Diaz is no stranger to.
With 28 finishes between them, it wouldn't be surprising to see it end early, but both fighters' toughness and durability makes it hard to predict a finish outside of one of them making a mistake and getting caught.
Both fighters like to stand and trade, but that will only last so long if Cerrone finds himself getting hit more often than not. Greg Jackson will have assimilated a game-plan that keeps Cerrone fighting smart, and if the 28-year-old finds himself in trouble on the feet, he will look for the takedown.
Cerrone has been submitted before, and that's something Diaz will be looking for if this fight is to hit the mat. Diaz has been a victim of being on bottom for the majority of his bouts, and that's a place where he will most likely end up for most of the fight. He has never had a problem letting his opponent take him to the ground, but that's unfavorable when it comes to how the judges score the bout.
Even if Diaz outworks Cerrone on his back, judges will favor the one on top, and Cerrone should stay busy enough to win the decision over three rounds while defending most of Diaz's submission attempts.
It could end up being another one of those split-decision fights where the loser walks away feeling as if they really didn't lose the fight.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone defeats Nate Diaz by Split-Decision in the Fight of the Night.