Rematches should be easier to handicap: There’s at least some video evidence of how two fighters mix. But in the case of Spike’s “Ultimate Fighter,” a Vegas house exhibition fight is as useful as a video game simulation. Fighters are out of their normal training elements, take on a compressed competition schedule, and suffer distractions that are usually urine-related.
Case in point: Nate Diaz was able to submit Gray Maynard during a 2007 episode of the series after a first round of dry runs. For Monday’s rematch, Maynard is the favored fighter. Why? The Xtreme Couture fighter, 6-0-1 since that semi-official loss, has bolstered his submission defense; Diaz, while having sharpened his stand-up, probably doesn’t have an appreciably different ground game than he did before.
What It Means: For Maynard, a chance to break out of his decision habits and look impressive in a bid for a spring title bout against B.J. Penn; for Diaz, a chance to wash out the bad taste of being dominated by wrestlers.
Might Look Like: Diaz’s fights with Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson -- frustrating, stifling, and losing.
Wild Card: Maynard has yet to face anyone with Diaz’s ground traps since their first bout -- where he spent the majority of the first round digging himself out of trouble. If Diaz can constantly threaten from the bottom, it might be enough to sway judges.
Who Wins: Maynard with cruise control to a decision.