5 Defining Moments: Nate Diaz

By Mark Raymundo Aug 15, 2019

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Twelve years into his Ultimate Fighting Championship career, Nate Diaz is one of the promotion’s most tenured and exciting fighters. The former lightweight title challenger has built a career out of a number of defining moments, including these five, to name a few:

1. Flexing BJJ Smarts

With 12 career wins by submission, it’s hard to contest that Diaz owns one of the finest ground games on the promotion’s roster. Diaz even showed early submission brilliance in his first pro fight, tapping out Alejandro Garcia by triangle choke. This was at World Extreme Cagefighting, no less, and the more experienced Garcia already had two armbar victories in four pro bouts at the time. The fight took place on Oct. 21, 2004.

2. Slipped Off His Hands

Diaz fought three more times in the WEC following his win over Garcia. He knocked out Gilbert Rael and submitted Joe Hurley, also by triangle choke. For this feat, Diaz was later awarded the opportunity to challenge then lightweight king, Hermes Franca. This time, Diaz got a dose of his own medicine, as he was tapped out by Franca in round two. The loss seemed to have sparked something out of Stockton, California, fighter’s pride as he submitted his next four opponents (seven including his “The Ultimate Fighter” stint).

3. Winning TUF

Diaz joined the fifth edition of “The Ultimate Fighter” and was picked by Jens Pulver alongside Cole Miller, Corey Hill and eventual finalist Manny Gamburyan. On the other side of the fence were the likes of Joe Lauzon, Gray Maynard, Rob Emerson, Matt Wiman and Gabe Ruediger. On his way to the finals, Diaz stopped Emerson, Hill and Maynard. Then in the finale on June 23, 2007, he stopped Gamburyan for the six-figure UFC contract. Diaz would get his career going and become one of the most successful TUF winners ever.

4. Newly Minted Black Belt

Coming into UFC on Fox 3 in May 2012, Diaz couldn’t be more inspired. He knew he was a win away from earning a ticket to challenge Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight championship. Another source of inspiration was the fact that a month prior, Diaz received his jiu-jitsu black belt from Cesar Gracie. On a mission to derail his title aspirations was Jim Miller, who himself is a jiu-jitsu black belt. What better way to prove the legitimacy of his belt by choking out Miller in the second round. With the victory, Diaz became the first man to ever stop the New Jersey native.

5. Derailing the Notorious

After beating Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox 17 in Dec. 2015, Diaz minced no words in trying to express his desire to fight Conor McGregor. The Irishman was coming off a 13-second KO of Jose Aldo and looked unbeatable at the time. But Diaz had other plans. He got his wish and became the first man to defeat McGregor in the Octagon at UFC 196. The former title challenger submitted “The Notorious” at 4:12 of round two. Advertisement
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