Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Bash Brothers Of The UFC

Dominique Ribinson/ via Flickr


During the last decade it could be argued that no sport has risen faster than the UFC. Two of the toughest and most slept on fighters in the UFC are Nick and Nate Diaz.

The Diaz brothers were born in the early 1980’s in Stockton, California. They began studying Mixed Martial Arts during their early teen years. A member of one of the most famous Brazilian Jiu-Jitzsu families, Cesar Gracie, is trainer to both Diaz boys.

Nick Diaz is one of the most tenacious, indefatigable competitors in the UFC. With supreme punching power and quickness, Diaz can control fights with his stand up. As a first degree black belt in BJJ, he also has the ability to control fights from the ground, clinch, on his back, and in any of the guard positions.

Nick has beaten some of the greatest lightweight and welterweight fighters the UFC has every seen. With wins over BJ Penn and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler early in his career, Nick appeared poised to dominate at both 155 and 170.

During the rise of the UFC, both Nick and Nate fought in StrikeForce. Both Diaz brothers would take fights at 180, showing extreme versatility and a willingness to fight anyone, anytime, anywhere. Fighting in weight classes within a range of 25 pounds is one of the most difficult things a fighter can do. It’s one thing to dominate one weight class, it’s quite another to take fights in three different weight classes.

Fringe UFC fans were privvied to just how difficult a task this is when Connor McGregor attempted to move up to 170 to fight Nate Diaz at UFC 196.

Nate Diaz is one year and eight months younger than his brother Nick. UFC fans were first introduced to Nate during Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter. Like Nick, Nate is a first degree blackbelt in BJJ. He is a long, accurate striker who uses his reach to his advantage against shorter opposition. He is extremely creative on the ground in full or half guard, finishing fights with both the triangle and guillotine choke on numerous occasions. His chin is equal in strength to Nick, capable of absorbing punch after punch, never giving up or giving in.

Between the brothers they have stepped into the Octagon 66 times. They have been KO’d a total of 3 times. This is a remarkable stat that directly reflects just how relentless the Diaz brothers are.

Nate has had his share of setbacks during his more than decade long career. He was throttled by Benson Henderson in 2012 during a Lightweight Title fight. Henderson dominated Nick, all while hitting him with fierce punches and kicks. The fight went the full 5 rounds, with Nate failing to win a single round. In 2014, Nate matched up with Rafael Dos Anjos, again losing in a decision. Dos Anjos hit Nate with a barrage of leg kicks, making it difficult for Nate to even stand at times. Dos Anjos took Nate to the canvas during the final 30 seconds of Round 3 and destroyed Diaz with vicious ground and pound strikes. Nate lost, but he was not KO’d or submitted. It was easily one of the worst beatings I have seen someone absorb without a fight stoppage.

All of Nate’s setbacks notwithstanding, none of these compare to Nick’s recent 18 month suspension for Marijuana use. This was Nick’s third failed urinalysis, resulting in the year and a half long hiatus.

Nick was recently cleared to fight again following his suspension. Several of the main stays in the 170 welterweight division are coming out of the woodwork to challenge Nick, but nothing has surpassed preliminary talks thus far.

Looking at the Diaz brothers at face value, one may assume that they were household names given their acumen in the UFC world. This, however, is hardly the case as evidenced by Nate’s UFC 196 matchup with Connor McGregor. McGregor has ascended the UFC ranks quickly over the last year or two. In comparison, during the build-up to their fight, some casual UFC fans were discovering Nate for the first time.

The question is: why? Why aren’t the Diaz boys faces of the UFC?

Is it a perceived lack of star power?

Is it that both of them rarely smile while dealing with the press?

Is it that Nate comes off as punch drunk at times and is difficult to understand?

Whatever the reason, it was blatant that there was a tinge of jealousy directed at McGregor from Nate prior to their first bout.

After a win by Nate in 2015, during a post fight interview, Nate took the mic from Joe Rogan and accused McGregor of “taking everything I’ve worked for,” amongst other things.

Nate wants to be a star.

He should be a star.

The guy is as tough as they come.

Nate showed his toughness and used his range at UFC 196 against McGregor. He absorbed shots from McGregor that normally KO his featherweight opponents. After taking the best shots McGregor had, Diaz began to turn the tables. He stung McGregor with a fierce blow that buckled Connor’s knees. Within minutes Nate had Connor on the canvas and submitted him rather routinely via a rear naked choke.

Nate took the fight on eleven days notice, replacing the 155 lb lightweight champ at that time, Rafael Dos Anjos.

He only had a fraction of time to prep for the fight, and was able to dispatch McGregor fairly easily.

As we come upon the rematch at UFC 202 on August 20, promotion for the fight is in full swing. Despite McGregor losing the first tilt, he continues to trash talk Nate, attempting to engage him in psychological warfare.

It didn’t work at UFC 196, but McGregor appears unabated by the loss.

Given a full camp and the added motivation of shutting McGregor’s mouth, it most likely won’t work at UFC 202.

Nate is too long, too tough for McGregor. His ability to take punishment and well rounded attack should be enough to dispatch McGregor a second time.

McGregor is arguably the UFC’s biggest star. Should he lose a second time to Nate, what does this do for Diaz?

What would it do for McGregor?

The eyeball test tells me that Diaz is the favorite, and he should win. But the beauty of the UFC is that nobody knows what will happen until the doors close on the Octagon August 20th.