Nate Diaz earned a hugely impressive win over Jim Miller at the weekend, putting himself in position for a title shot. But should he get one right away, or is it right that he wait for a previously-announced rematch between Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar to take place?
Fighters Only Website Editor
Funny old game, being the UFC matchmaker. In one division, you’ve got nobody that really looks like they deserve a shot. In another, there’s a steady queue of contenders with viable claims and you have to decide who among them gets first go.
Ordinarily, Diaz’s comprehensive win over the very talented Jim Miller would have put him straight into a title shot. But there’s the complication of Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar having an immediate rematch due to the close nature of their UFC 144 fight, which Henderson won via a decision that a sizeable proportion of people - me included - think should have gone the other way.
Anthony Pettis is also clamouring for a title shot and is coming off a stunning head-kick KO win over Joe Lauzon (also at UFC 144) but I think he’s a fight or two away yet. Lauzon is something of a gatekeeper as is Clay Guida, who beat Pettis last June. He’s not established himself as a top contender for me yet. I dont think Diaz needs to fight Pettis to earn a shot, but the reverse might be true, especially if Diaz wants to stay active.
Diaz has; its just a shame he is going to have to wait until the Henderson/Edgar rematch takes place before he gets his shot. However, I like it when the next challenger is immediately in place to face the winner of a title fight. I can see Diaz beating either Henderson or Edgar, but I think the latter especially would have serious problems with the range. We will have to wait and see what happens.
Associate Editor, Fighters Only and Train Hard, Fight Easy
Nate Diaz must fight Anthony Pettis to clarify the UFC lightweight title picture. Yes, Diaz certainly earned an outright claim to number-one contendership with his guillotine win over ever-tough Jim Miller in UFC on Fox 3's main event on Saturday. But he's looking at at least a six months of thumb twiddling for the chance – since Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar are likely to rematch for the 155lb title closer the summer's end.
Six months will likely burn on the fighting spirit for a member of the never-back-down Diaz clan as the weeks tick by. Meanwhile, Anthony Pettis is left on the periphery, despite the fact the former WEC champ would likely have been preparing for an opportunity at the belt right now had Edgar and Henderson come to a more satisfactory conclusion in February. There are two exciting 155lb contenders who need to keep active, and one simple fix.
Fighters Only Assistant Editor
Nate and his brother Nick are becoming the definition of late bloomers when it comes to mixed martial arts. At first they were both a bunch of kids with some very good jiu-jitsu and decent boxing, but both of them have now become beasts in their own right when it comes to fighting.
UFC on Fox 3 showed the continuing maturation of Nate as a fighter. Would the same Nate Diaz who lost to Joe Stevenson beaten Jim Miller on Saturday night? I highly doubt it. His skills have always been there, but they have been sharpened to go with his killer instinct.
Diaz is no doubt the number one contender for the title. Anthony Pettis had a very good claim but a loss, lack of quality opponents and sheer bad timing has put his title shot on the shelf for the time being. In my opinion, give the Stockton bad boy a chance to fully represent the 209 in a title bout. It'll be exciting, interesting and most importantly it'll be hard to predict who wins a bout between either Henderson or Edgar.