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Can Nick Maximov lose the ‘Diaz brothers’ protégé’ tag at UFC Vegas 47?

Nick Maximov might just be able to change the narrative at UFC Vegas 47 when he faces Punahele Soriano in the co-main event.

An affiliation with Nick and Nate Diaz seems like it should be a major positive in the career of a young MMA fighter. But, that alliance can also have some drawbacks. And it feels as though Nick Maximov has seen both sides of that coin during his brief tenure with the UFC.

In 2020, Maximov accepted a fight on the DWCS at heavyweight. He did so even though he had competed at middleweight for the LFA just a few months before the DWCS event.

Maximov was the same height as his opponent, Oscar Cota, in that contest, but Cota (263) outweighed Maximov (209) by a massive 54 pounds. The young fighter’s thinking, in taking the booking, appears to have been that it would show the UFC he was hungry and willing to take on any and all comers. Unfortunately for him, the gamble didn’t pay off that night, instead the promotion offered him a spot on season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter.

However, as luck would have it, Maximov didn’t have to go through TUF to get his shot. Instead, the UFC booked him to face Karl Roberson at UFC 266. Roberson dropped out of the fight three days before the event and Cody Brundage, agreed to step in.

Maximov won the fight by decision. After the fight, it seemed apparent that while he needed time to develop his striking game, he looked like a very talented wrestler and grappler. At just 24-years-old and with strong training partners like the Diaz brothers to work with, Maximov was someone to watch.

During his post-fight media appearance at UFC 266, the newcomer fielded several questions—most of which were more focused on his relationship with the Diaz brothers than they were on his performance or his own abilities. Near the end of his time on the dais at T-Mobile Arena, one reporter asked Maximov if constantly being asked about Nick and Nate bothered him.

“You guys can go talk to them yourself, you know? I get why they do it and I’m not trying to diss on them, but once you get asked every day, all the time, you’re like, ‘you can go ask them yourself.’ It’s just kind of whatever at this point, but yeah, it gets a little annoying,” said Maximov.

It’s not hard to understand Maximov’s irritation. Or why reporters would latch on to that narrative with a relatively unknown talent. After all, when the book on a fighter’s career so far is that he’s young and inexperienced, a training relationship like that one is going to take center stage.

At UFC Vegas 47, then, Maximov has a real opportunity to take a firm step out of the shadow of the Diaz brothers and take control of the narrative of his career. If he can put together a dominating performance in the co-main event of a UFC card, in just his second bout inside the Octagon, people will take notice.

Standing in his way, however, is 29-year-old Punahele Soriano. Soriano is 8-1 and coming off the first loss of his professional career, a July decision loss to Brendan Allen. At the time of writing, he’s also a -200 favorite over Maximov—who checks in at around +160 for the matchup.

An upset win for the Nick Diaz Academy fighter in this bout should give media members something extra to work with. A big chance for a young fighter to move the conversation forward on Saturday at the UFC Apex.