Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz III Set for 'The Ultimate Fighter' Season 18 Finale

John HeinisSenior Analyst ISeptember 8, 2013

Two former UFC lightweight title challengers are set to meet inside the Octagon for the third time late this fall. 

Gray Maynard is set to take on Nate Diaz at The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 Finale on November 30, the UFC revealed through their Twitter page this afternoon. 

Breaking - the November 30 #TUF18 finale will feature the rubber match between @NateDiaz209 and @GrayMaynard

— UFC (@ufc) September 8, 2013

Diaz submitted Maynard in the semifinals of TUF 5 in mid-2007, the tournament he would eventually win, though bouts on the show are officially considered exhibition matches. 

"The Bully" evened the score at UFC Fight Night 20 in January 2010, earning a somewhat controversial split decision on the judges' scorecards.

Maynard got his first crack at UFC gold when he squared off with then-champion Frankie Edgar, an opponent he had already beaten, at UFC 125 in January 2011.

The back-and-forth, action-packed title bout ended in a draw, calling for an immediate rematch at UFC 136 in October of the same year.

While Maynard again had "The Answer" in trouble early, the champion managed to weather the storm and finish the challenger with strikes in the fourth round.

The three-time All-American wrestler at Michigan State University rebounded with a lackluster decision win over Clay Guida last June, only to suffer a TKO loss at the hands of upcoming title challenger TJ Grant at UFC 160 this past May. 

Therefore, Maynard badly needs a win in his trilogy with Diaz, as he is just 1-2-1 in his past four bouts. 

His familiar foe, Diaz, racked up three quality wins in the division between September 2011 and May 2012, earning a title shot against then-champ Benson Henderson. 

Diaz took a beating at their UFC on FOX 5 encounter in December, losing a very lopsided decision. 

He fared even worse against former Strikeforce titleholder Josh Thomson in his next fight at UFC on FOX 7 in April, suffering the first knockout loss of his career. 

Clearly, Diaz also needs a win in this upcoming bout in order to remain a top contender at 155 pounds. 

According to the UFC's official rankings, Maynard is still the No. 4 lightweight in the world, while Diaz is the seventh-best 155-pounder. 

Prior to his bout with Thomson, Diaz said he would be returning to the welterweight division, but obviously those plans did not come to fruition, per MMA Mania


John Heinis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA Editor for