Nate Diaz is back. The 34-year-old picked up a unanimous-decision win over Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of UFC 241 on Saturday night in Anaheim, California.
Diaz utilized relentless pressure and signature cardio to outwork his opponent during three rounds and convince all three judges he was the victor (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
The first round featured a little bit of everything. The Stockton, California, native pressed forward while Pettis answered with sharp counters. A Diaz takedown highlighted the grappling in the round where he was able to take Showtime's back.
Diaz's trademark pressure only intensified as the fight moved to the second stanza. He pinned Pettis against the cage and went to work with hooks and knees to the body and head.
The third round almost saw Diaz finish the fight. With Showtime up against the fence once again, Diaz put him on the floor with brutal knees, but Pettis utilized good grappling defense to recover and eventually wind up in Diaz's guard.
There was no shortage of praise for Diaz after he put on an impressive performance coming off a three-year layoff. He showed no signs of ring rust in three rounds of solid action:
After the bout, Diaz called out Jorge Masvidal in what would be a welcome fight in fans' eyes:
The performance is Diaz's first appearance in the Octagon since his loss to Conor McGregor in their massive UFC 202 bout.
Diaz defeated McGregor via submission at UFC 196 but followed it with a decision loss the second time out. Now, Diaz, who has made his name as an action fighter in the UFC, is looking for a specific type of opponent.
"I'm back, to showcase real martial skills against real martial artists," Diaz said, per Gavin Porter of UFC.com. "To let all the fighters know who are holding on and scoring points and winning the rounds that's cool, right on for getting your money, but that's some wack-ass martial arts. That's not even martial arts; that's point fighting."
The Diaz brothers have always been a bit enigmatic when it comes to matchmaking. Nick Diaz hasn't fought since 2015 and only fought three times from 2012 to 2015.
With Nate's win against Pettis in Saturday's co-main event, the likelihood that we get another big Diaz fight increases. The Diaz brothers have been a proven hype machine, and Nate Diaz's two fights with McGregor were both blockbusters.
Should The Notorious return to the Octagon any time soon, Diaz will now have a case to meet him a third time.