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UFC TUF 18 Finale fight card primer: Gray Maynard vs Nate Diaz

Bloody Elbow presents its UFC TUF 18 Finale fight card primer, previewing all the action at this weekend's UFC Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate Finale live on Fox Sports 1. Here, we look at the main event: Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In the main event at the UFC TUF 18 Finale, Gray Maynard (11-2-1(1) MMA; 9-2-1(1) UFC) and Nate Diaz (16-9 MMA; 11-7 UFC) square off in the Lightweight division. This five-round fight headlines the Finale for The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs Team Tate. The UFC Rankings have Maynard as the #5 contender at Lightweight, with Diaz at #8. The UFC TUF 18 Finale airs live from Las Vegas this Saturday, November 30 on Fox Sports 1 with a fight time of 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT for the main card.

This fight caps off an odd sort of trilogy from Maynard and Diaz dating back to 2007. Both men came into the UFC through season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter. In that season, Diaz defeated Maynard by submission on the show before going on to become the TUF Season 5 champion. For years, that "exhibition" fight was the only blemish on Maynard's career. He avenged the loss in an official fight in 2010, taking a split decision win. Now, they look to conclude the trilogy and definitively prove who is the better fighter.

How do these two stack up?

Maynard: 34 years old | 5'8" | 70" reach
Diaz: 28 years old | 6'0" | 76" reach

What have these two done recently?

Maynard: L - T.J. Grant (TKO) | W - Clay Guida (SD) | L - Frankie Edgar (KO)
Diaz: L - Josh Thomson (TKO) | L - Ben Henderson (UD) | W - Jim Miller (Sub)

How did these two get here?

Gray "The Bully" Maynard will likely forever be known for his epic trilogy against Frankie Edgar. In those spectacular fights, Maynard came oh so close to UFC gold, but never quite got there. But ever since he nearly stopped Edgar in the first round of their 2nd fight, Maynard has been struggling. He has not emphatically won a fight since defeating Kenny Florian over 3 years ago at UFC 118. He's changed camps in recent years, moving over to AKA, but has yet to see the benefits from that switch. Right now, Maynard looks to be winding down a career that will be marked by being close to greatness but never getting there. If he wants to change that story, he needs to win tonight.

More Bloody Elbow coverage of the TUF 18 Finale

Nate Diaz has always been rather hot and cold in his UFC career, moving from Lightweight, up to Welterweight, then back down to 155. But in 2011 he seemed to finally find his groove, turning in great performances against Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone, and Jim Miller that earned him a title shot. He had no luck against Ben Henderson, and followed that up with a surprising loss to Josh Thomson. Like Maynard, Diaz seems like a fighter where we have seen his ceiling, but his mix of stand-up and jiu jitsu always makes him a close contender.

Why should you care?

Both fighters tend to turn in entertaining fights (Maynard vs Guida being the recent exception), and given the high stakes and years of build up, I expect both will bring their A games to make an exciting fight.