UFN 20: Nate Diaz Looks To Block Gray Maynard's Road To the Title

Erik FontanezCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2010

For Gray Maynard (8-0, 1 NC), the UFC road has come to a point where things can get very interesting for him.

With talks of a rumored title shot against BJ Penn, the UFC lightweight is on his way to the big show of big shows.

Few road blocks have forced Maynard to stumble while making his trek, but one fighter who has seemed to let some air out of his tires is Nate Diaz.

Diaz (11-4) stands in the way of Maynard’s title run and plans to put an outright halt to his caravan’s trip to title town at Ultimate Fight Night 20.

This won’t be the first time Diaz gets in the way of Maynard’s goals. During season five of the Ultimate Fighter, the two were contestants on the Spike TV reality show and faced each other in the semi-finals of the tournament.

The ending of the bout, though not counted as a professional fight, included Diaz submitting Maynard by guillotine choke.

To Maynard‘s disappointment, Diaz went on to win the tournament and become the Ultimate Fighter.

Now, two-and-a-half years later, Maynard has the opportunity to avenge his loss to Diaz and continue his way up to BJ Penn and title contention.

The importance of a win against Diaz is compounded by 1) the fact that a win can give him a title shot and 2) vengeance is a delightful experience.

For Diaz, his role of spoiler couldn’t be a better fit for him. Laying down spikes, making potholes and blocking traffic will be Diaz’s key responsibilities when stopping Maynard’s drive towards a title.

Diaz’s label of bad guy will makes perfect sense going into Ultimate Fight Night 20, as a win for him will surely take Maynard out of title contention.

Not only will a win skid Maynard off the road, but also provide Diaz with a little bit more momentum since beating Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 19.

Small discussions have taken place hinting at the fact that Diaz should also be considered for a shot at BJ Penn, but the popular opinion is that Diaz would need a few more wins to truly be considered for the lightweight title fight.

We must ask ourselves, is Nate Diaz worthy of a title shot? Maybe not now, but what if he does get a winning streak going? Who would he fight next?

Frankie Edgar might have a say in the argument. If Maynard isn‘t the talk of next in line, it’s Edgar who gets the popular vote for a title shot.

The way things are unfolding, either Edgar or Maynard get BJ Penn next while Kenny Florian and Takanori Gomi settle their differences.

Nate Diaz will likely be behind all of these fighters, collecting the leftover scraps left by the winners of the previously mentioned bouts.

If it takes eating leftovers for a while, then that is what Diaz will have to welcome the task if he is ever to be considered for contendership in the UFC lightweight division.

Things usually have a way of working themselves out and if Diaz remains patient, his time will come.

If Gray Maynard can avoid the roadblocks laid out by Diaz, he’ll get to his destination quickly and have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Look for Nate Diaz to force his opponent off the road to a title town. One can guarantee, Diaz will not make the road anything relatively close to smooth.