Nate Diaz returned to the win column on Saturday, stopping Gray Maynard with a barrage of punches in the first round.
In his past two outings, Diaz was beaten by then-champion Benson Henderson and knocked out by Josh Thomson. On the verge of losing three in a row, which often leads to fighters being released from the UFC roster, Diaz needed to perform well at The Ultimate Fighter 18 finale in Las Vegas.
After being taken down early, Diaz worked back to a standing position and made Maynard pay for being unable to hold him down. Once he had Maynard rocked, Diaz did not let off the gas and battered his opponent until referee Yves Lavigne had seen enough.
Now, Maynard finds himself in a bad spot after losing to Diaz on Saturday. Following a loss to TJ Grant at UFC 160, Maynard has now been knocked out in the first round of back-to-back bouts. Dating back to his title fights with Frankie Edgar, Maynard has also only won once over his past five appearances, and that victory came in an uneventful split decision with Clay Guida.
Maynard will need to get things turned around quickly or he could quickly spiral out of the world's top MMA promotion.
With his victory at the TUF 18 finale, Diaz took a lead of sorts in his series with Maynard. Although their first meeting was an exhibition, Diaz has now submitted Maynard in the TUF semifinals and knocked him out on Saturday. Maynard, meanwhile, earned a split-decision win over Diaz in January 2010.
To recap the latest meeting between Maynard and Diaz, FoxSports.com has provided the above video highlights.