For anyone who’s been following the careers of Nate and Nick Diaz, the results of tonight’s title fight should not be surprising, because we’ve seen it before.
Benson Henderson employed his own twist on a tried-and-true game plan that has been known to defeat the Diaz brothers in the past, and it worked like a charm, allowing him to shut down the challenger, reducing him to empty taunts and nothing more.
And what is boggling is that no one in “The Skrap Pack” camp seems at all interested in fixing the glaring hole in their fight preparations for either brother: good wrestling.
Yes, just that simple, really—and it doesn’t even have to be “great” wrestling, just good, because that is many steps above what they have now.
Tonight, we saw a well-rounded fighter give Nate Diaz a thorough thumping, and much of it can rightly be attributed to the fact that Henderson knew he could take Nate to the ground anytime he wanted.
The second part of the equation became clear as the fight went on; that Nate knew it too, and was helpless to do anything about it.
Of course, no one can say that Nate didn’t try, or that he gave up, because he was game until the end. But the simple facts are that neither he, nor his big brother, have come to understand that without some serious attention devoted to learning some wrestling 101, the 209 will never know UFC gold, at least not around the waist of the brothers Diaz.
It didn’t have to be that way, but that was their choice.
Next up is Nick Diaz, who will be facing one of the best wrestlers in the sport in GSP, and as bad as Nate looked tonight, his brother could end up looking much worse. Scores of 50-45 or 50-44 on all cards are a very real possibility, and if Nick loses like that, what is next?
While Nick was fighting outside of the UFC, he built up a rabid following with an impressive winning streak that saw him engage in some incredibly exciting, dramatic fights…but not one of those opponents possessed any kind of credible offensive wrestling game, and they posed little to no takedown threat.
Basically, they were tailor made, and Nick wore them out like a cheap suit.
But now, all of that is ancient history because in GSP, Nick will be hard-pressed to avoid any takedown the champion throws at him.
Watching Henderson ragdoll Nate all around the cage, attacking his legs and then throwing hard upstairs, it became clear that while much seems to have changed over the past years for the Diaz brothers, the song their opponents listen to remains the same: takedown and top position, over and over.
Nate worked his way to his title shot, fighting with passion and poise and that is something all fans love, but when you get to a certain level, it’s like the saying about the game of poker: “If you can’t spot the sucker inside of 10 minutes at the table, then you are the sucker.”
Maybe it’s time to start having their training camps led by Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez rather than Cesar Gracie, because as of now, they really need to shake things up.
Both of the Diaz brothers know full well what their opponents will be looking to do when the stakes are high, and complaining about it afterwards will not see them live up to their fullest potential.
It will just see them lose and from there be exposed as two-dimensional fighters that, while exciting as hell in a slugfest, will never be champions until they can keep fighters like Benson Henderson, GSP and countless others—all with strong bases in wrestling—from taking easy advantage of their hubris and mopping the canvas with their backs.