Prior to stepping into the Octagon on Saturday, someone must have told Nate Diaz that if he finished his fight against Gray Maynard fast enough there was still time left for him to catch the tail end of his 10th high school reunion.
The level of ferocity that Diaz unleashed on Maynard to finish the fight at the 2:09 mark of Round 1 to earn Knockout of the Night honors, was something we haven't seen from Diaz since he defeated Jim Miller in May 2012.
Judging from his scowling visage, Diaz always has bad intentions in mind when he steps into the Octagon. Diaz's problem in the two fights that preceded his stoppage of Maynard was turning those bad intentions into victorious, displays of beautiful violence.
The victory over Miller earned Diaz a shot at the UFC Lightweight title. That fight, against then champion Benson Henderson did not go Diaz's way in the least, as he was dominated by Henderson, dropping a unanimous decision in which he was awarded not a single round by the judges.
Diaz followed the Henderson loss with a second round TKO defeat to Josh Thomson, a fight that left Nate's brother Nick throwing in the towel in hopes of stopping the beating that Thomson was putting on Nate.
After Saturday's dominant performance, Diaz said at the post-fight press conference that perhaps, someone on Maynard's team should have taken the same tack while referee Yves Lavigne stood by and watched Maynard absorb punishment from Diaz, "I think in boxing they start hopping in when they're taking a lot of punches, or maybe their corner would have threw in the towel, but I wasn't going to stop. I was just trying to set up a good one to land to finish it off if they weren't going to stop it."
Lavigne eventually waved off the fight, and as the referee wrapped his arms around Diaz to stop the onslaught, Maynard unsupported by the cage, found his legs failing him, and he tumbled to the mat.
Diaz's commented on the stoppage, "I'm glad that they stopped it when they did because this is a rough sport, and I don't think people should be taking shots. It's not like ‘I want to kill this guy', and I'm talking s- - t like the rest of these people, but (finishing the fight) was the plan and I'm glad that they stopped it when they did."
One observation from the fight was that Diaz's striking attack was much more power oriented than in some of his past fights. Diaz's reputation is that he has great boxing skills, but that he usually defeats his opponents by wearing them down through the accumulation of strikes, not via power strikes.
On Saturday night, Diaz used pure power not accumulated damage to send Maynard to his second straight first round TKO loss. Diaz had the following to say about his striking, "feel like I hit hard all the time. Sometimes I just keep going, and instead of throwing full blown power shots I feel like a lot more accurate punches will do, but if I slow it down and try and hit you hard, I'm going to hit you hard."
The win moved Diaz's record to 17-9, and will most likely see him climb from the No. 8 spot he currently holds in the UFC's lightweight rankings. When discussing what's next for him, Diaz offered the following, "I think I'll sit on the sidelines for a good long minute and wait until someone gets injured and fight for a title like everybody else is doing."
If you have followed Diaz's career at all, you know the reality is that Diaz is not going to sit on the sidelines, something he pointed out shortly after making the above statement, "I do have a lot of losses on my record, and other people have a lot of criticism, and s- - t to talk about me losing, but if you took a look at my record compared to other people's record, for every two fights (of theirs) I've fought six or seven times. So, if they were fighting like I am, they would have more losses than me."
After the win, Diaz stood in the Octagon with his teammate, No. 2 ranked Gilbert Melendez and declared, "Just so everyone knows that the number one and number two lightweights in the world are right here, me and my man right here."
When he sat at the dais and was asked about those comments, about how he thought that he and Melendez were the top two lightweights, Diaz interrupted, saying, "I know we're the top two guys, I know."
Oh, and about that high school reunion, it seems that monetary concerns were the reason that Diaz, skipped that, and showed up to fight Maynard on Saturday night, "It would have been cool to go to, but I was broke, so I had to show up."
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