It took seemingly forever for the main event to arrive, but when it did, it delivered. Top 10 lightweights Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard had fought twice before, splitting the series 1-1 with Diaz winning by guillotine choke and Maynard taking a split decision. The "rubber match" (even though their fight on TUF is listed as an exhibition) was important not just for the sake of their rivalry but to maintain their status as contenders in the division.
Diaz not only won the trilogy, but he finished Maynard for the 2nd time. He needed only half of the opening round to pull off a TKO win over Gray, and he did so with his relentless and very accurate striking. After an early takedown by Maynard, Diaz was able to get back to his feet, where he picked Maynard apart. He knocked Maynard down with a straight left, and from there he just swarmed the two-time title challenger with a barrage of knees and punches. With Maynard not intelligently defending himself and on wobbly legs against the cage, referee Yves Lavigne stopped the fight at 2:38 of round 1. A bloodied Maynard stumbled to the canvas after the stoppage.
What was the high point of the fight?
In a short bout, the knockdown and ensuing all-out assault from Diaz was obviously the standout moment and ultimately the one that gave Diaz the much needed victory.
Where do these two go from here?
Diaz ends his two fight losing streak and improves to 17-9 in his career, and also recorded his first KO/TKO at lightweight since 2006. His striking looked very sharp and he wouldn't let Maynard, the clearly superior wrestler, hold him down after the early takedown. I'm partial to a fight with Jorge Masvidal even though Masvidal lost his last bout. It would be guaranteed excitement.
Maynard drops to 11-3-1, 1 NC and is 1-3 in his last 4 fights, with all of his defeats coming by KO or TKO. His days as a lightweight contender are over, so he shouldn't be booked as such. He is essentially a gatekeeper now so his next fight should be against someone in the Joe Lauzon/Matt Wiman area.
Watch now, later, or never?
It lasted 2 1/2 minutes and Diaz spent the last 30 seconds teeing off on a badly hurt Maynard. Watch it now because it was short, violent, and decisive.