So, it looks like the time has finally come for the little brother to step out of his big brother's shadow and be the first of the Diaz clan to fight for a UFC title belt.
Truth be told, it is long overdue.
While Nick Diaz has been wowing crowds and blowing golden opportunities, Nate has been “playing the game” and fighting hard, polishing his style to the level of a world-class fighter.
His submissions have never been sharper, and his stand up is better than it’s ever been, clearly rivaling that of his elder sibling. Of course, his love of the fight—any fight, anytime—is so clearly abundant that you know he’s going to go for the finish whenever he can.
And if he were fighting anyone else in the division, he would probably have better than even chances to be the first member of “The Scrap Pack” to bring home UFC gold.
But he’s fighting Benson Henderson, and given the style and intelligence of the champion—and styles always, always make fights—he’s going to end up losing his title bid thanks to being on the receiving end of a fairly one-sided beat-down for one main reason alone.
Like his brother, he just can’t seem to stop takedowns.
In Henderson, he will be facing a fighter who will be able to not only match him in the area of conditioning, but will be the faster fighter of the two and will be more active, pushing a fierce pace.
Granted, if Henderson is foolish enough to stand up with Diaz all night long, he’ll lose, just like BJ Penn lost to Nick Diaz, but Henderson isn’t that foolish.
He’ll use feints and he’ll be circling around the often flat-footed Diaz, snatching up takedowns and then working at a fast clip with ground-and-pound, maintaining a solid top position to keep Diaz under him and on the defensive for as long as he can.
And that will probably be a pattern that is repeated over and over in the fight, resulting in a TKO, a cut stoppage or a lopsided decision for the champion.
It is odd to consider all of this, because I honestly think Diaz is better at striking and submissions, which are two of the main cornerstones of MMA. But Henderson is far more athletic and agile, and he looks to be one of those men who gets better as they hold the belt.
Were Diaz faster, or if he had far better takedown defense, then this would be a different story, one that would see him winning the title, but he isn’t and he doesn’t, and that is where the clash of styles leaves him handcuffed behind his back.
Honestly, I feel that a man like Nate Diaz would be great for the division and the sport if he were a UFC champion. His all-action, all-the-time style is just impossible not to fall in love with, but this is still a sport where wrestling matters greatly, and that is his shortcoming.
This should still be a great night for Nate, simply because he’s the first of his family to vie for the belt, but when all is said and done, Henderson is going home with the gold, once again.