"Give me a top competitor. Like I said, I don't care who it is."
This was a quote from Nathan Donald Diaz after his submission victory over Alvin Robinson. Ask and you shall receive.
Nate's next opponent was one who Diaz called out in the same interview, Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino. He spent most of this fight on his back, where Pellegrino controlled Nate's posture with a better wrestling attack.
Kurt seemed to be well on his way to a victory up until Nate caught him in his now infamous Triangle Choke two minutes into the second-round.
"Whoever they want to give me, that's who I want to fight."
Not so blatant, but his tone spoke in volumes. Nate Diaz still wanted tougher opponents across the cage. So in stepped "The Dentist," Josh Neer who was riding a three-fight win streak prior to this bout.
Josh came in regarded as a dangerous striker, intending to test Diaz's chin. Nate stood tall but the fight eventually went to the mat where his Cesar Gracie brown-belt helped him avoid numerous submissions and the ground and pound of Neer.
Standing, Diaz was able to avoid Neer's powerful punches and control him in the clinch with his Parisyan-like judo throws. He earned himself a split-decision victory after a very technical battle, where either fighter could of easily been tapped out.
Up next was Clay "The Carpenter" Guida, who's energetic pace matched up very well with Nate's dangerous ground game. A win would of shot Nate Diaz into the list of contenders for the strap. Then the woes of most fighters finally stepped in the path of Diaz.
In the stand-up, Diaz utilized his reach to keep Guida back pedaling while he continually picked clean, crisp shots. Many believe if the fight would of turned into a kickboxing match, Diaz would of clearly won. The thing is, you can only keep Guida at bay for so long.
Guida eventually gained his clinch and smothered Diaz with continuous take-downs and dominant ground and pound. Even with his very lethal guard, Diaz was unable to control any grappling aspect of the fight on route to a split-decision victory for Clay Guida.
Joe Stevenson apparently watched this fight very closely and implemented the same game plan against Diaz on The Ultimate Fighter 9 finale.
Once again, Diaz looked to be controlling the stand-up with his reach advantage. However, the stand-up was far and in-between the superior wrestling and control that Joe "Daddy" showcased throughout the fight, earning Stevenson a unanimous victory.
"I looked like s*@#."
An understandable quote after another tough hit in the budding young career of Diaz. They say the only way to go from here is up and the next rung in the ladder will be "The Young Assassin," Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 19.
Diaz needs this win to stay afloat in a stacked lightweight division. Melvin's aggressive hay-maker style might just play into Nate's technical boxing. The same aggressiveness might land Guillard into an Armbar, Guillotine, or Diaz's ever-growing favorite, Triangle Choke.
However, Diaz must avoid encroaching on Guillard. His wild punches, mixed in with his unparalleled speed have sent numerous fighters off to count sheep. Guillard is very effective in wrestling, which is a strong background of Diaz's previous two opponents.
Nate Diaz hasn't performed to the best of his abilities in his recent UFC performances, but at the ripe age of 24, his best fights are still ahead. With a victory over Guillard, Diaz will find his name back in the mix of potential contenders.