Nate Diaz will try to become the UFC's sixth lightweight champion at UFC on FOX on Saturday night.
The Stockton, CA native has won all three fights since his return to the lightweight division. That was good enough to earn him a shot at the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson. Now, with that decided, he is ready to capture gold.
Since winning the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, Diaz has been one of the most consistent performers in the UFC.
The talking is just about done. The title fight looms.
These are five reasons you should be rooting for Diaz on Saturday.
Nate has been in the shadow of his brother from the beginning. At every turn, he is compared to Nick. However, if Nate can win the UFC lightweight title, he will finally be able to step into the limelight ahead of his brash brother.
Nate has also suffered from his brother's antics. When people talk about the brothers, they talk about their trash-talking, antics pre- and post-fight and skipping out on commitments.
That is almost exclusively Nick. His reputation has tarnished a small bit of Nate's reputation. Nate has been a model employee of the UFC. He has not tested positive, he shows up for all the conference calls and he does not start a ruckus at the events.
This is Nate's opportunity to show the world he is his own man. He can step into the spotlight and claim the championship belt—something his brother has never done in the UFC.
Nate Diaz has had the most #UFC fights in the past five years: 14 fights (tied with Demian Maia).
— MMADecisions.com (@MMADecisions) December 6, 2012
That is a fantastic stat supplied by the guys at MMADecisions.com. It is important to note that Diaz sat out to ensure he got his title shot, too. He could have taken another fight between May and now instead of taking time off.
He has been extremely active.
That period included a move to welterweight, where he was 2-2. His two losses were both decision defeats to Top 10 opponents in Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim.
Diaz is a fans' fighter. He is active, he is fun to watch and he does not back down from anyone. That is more than enough reason to applaud him in this title fight.
In his last five fights at lightweight, Diaz is 4-1 with three finishes. He has submitted elite lightweights Melvin Guillard, Takanori Gomi and became the first to finish Jim Miller.
Henderson has not finished an opponent since WEC 48 in 2010.
Yes, Henderson has fought top-flight competition and it's hard to finish those men, but Diaz has done it. Competitive five-round wars are fun, but fans want their champion to be able to finish. They want their champion to be dominant.
I am not trying to take anything away from Henderson, who does try to finish, but the fact remains he has not produced a single finish in his UFC career. As Kenny Florian once proclaimed in a post-fight interview, "Who wants to see fights finished?" Fans do.
Ever since the WEC lightweights were brought over, they have run the lightweight division. Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson have been on a roll. Henderson, of course, is the current champion.
Diaz can turn himself into the WEC Killer.
He has already dominated and disposed of Cerrone, Henderson is next on the list, and Pettis could very well be the next in line for a shot at the title.
Diaz can tip the balance of power back in the UFC veterans' favor. The WEC alum had a lot to prove and they have proven it. Diaz now gets the opportunity to show that he is the class of the division as a whole, and take out the WEC insurgents.
Ever since B.J. Penn dropped the lightweight title, the division has not had the same luster it once had. The PPV numbers reflect that. Henderson vs. Edgar II at UFC 150 did not even break the 200,000-buy mark.
Diaz can bring that number up.
Henderson is a great fighter. He is an exciting fighter. Yet, he does not bring the viewers.
Diaz's personality and style makes him a polarizing figure. That is a big asset to have in a champion. Fans of his will buy the show, while the viewers who dislike him will buy it to watch him get beaten. Diaz is no stranger to trash-talk, either.
Having Diaz as the frontman for the lightweight division brings it additional spark. An exciting fighter who will talk trash and back it up, he can bring better ratings and buys to the division.
Frankie Edgar and Henderson have not been able to do that, but Diaz has the right ingredients to put the division back out in front.