A mixed bag of results happened with Diaz both at lightweight and during his brief stint at welterweight, but over his last few fights, the Stockton, Calif. native has come into his own.
Once known simply as the little brother of UFC welterweight Nick Diaz, Nate has now blazed a path of his own, and he burned a fiery trail through New Jersey on Saturday night as he put away native son Jim Miller in his most impressive performance to date.
Coming into the fight, Diaz admitted it was hard to be motivated to face Miller, who was a nice guy and a very respectful martial artist. He obviously found a way however because Diaz was at his best during his UFC on Fox 3 bout against Miller, where he dominated every aspect of the fight.
It wasn’t even the typical Diaz style fight because he wasn’t able to walk Miller down with jabs and trap him against the cage, but he did blast away at his fellow lightweight with good strikes, and showed off his power as he avoided takedowns every time they were attempted.
Miller tried as best he could to put pressure on Diaz and stay away from his length, but with every step forward Diaz made him take two steps back with punishing blows each and every time.
The second round saw Miller finally try to scramble for a takedown, but that was ultimately his undoing. Diaz was able to get an arm under Miller’s chin and secure a power guillotine choke.
Diaz, who just recently received his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under trainer Cesar Gracie, showed off his grappling chops as he locked up the maneuver and no matter where Miller rolled, he wasn’t getting away.
With the choke locked up tight, Miller had no choice but to give into the submission, handing Diaz his third win in a row.
Following what has to be considered the biggest win of his career, a humble Nate Diaz didn’t talk about title shots, or who he wanted next. He touted his good friend and teammate as the true top 155lb fighter in the world.
“I’m trying to be No. 1 in this world,” said Diaz. “There’s only one person above all of us and that’s Gilbert ‘El Nino’ Melendez, the true world champion lightweight. He’s fighting in two weeks against Josh Thomson.”
Melendez, who has been a teammate of Diaz’s for several years, has continued to battle for his place as the top lightweight in the world despite not fighting in the UFC. If Diaz’s proclamation means it anything, it certainly helped boost the upcoming Strikeforce card that Melendez fights on in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Jim Miller deals with a defeat, but more specifically the first time he’s ever been finished in his 20+ career fights. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but humility has never been a problem for the hard working Miller family.
“He had my number,” said Miller. “Nate is a tough fight.”
While a guaranteed shot at the title seemed set in stone for Diaz, the problem that arises with that is the timeline in which it could conceivably happen. With champion Benson Henderson not scheduled to face former champion Frankie Edgar until September most likely, Diaz would have to sit out the majority of the rest of the year if he was going to wait for a title shot.
What’s more likely to happen is Diaz will rest and recover and then face former WEC champion Anthony Pettis later this year to determine the true No. 1 contender in the UFC lightweight division.