Today marks the birthday of one of the UFC’s most celebrated fighters, Nate Diaz. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 35-year old is no doubt having a quiet celebration in lockdown. To honor the ‘Stockton slapper’, we have compiled his top five fights to celebrate his birthday in ultimate BJPenn.com style!
The UFC veterans collided in the co-main event of UFC 141 in 2011. The fighters vented their frustration in an all-out war, but the bad blood started long before they entered the Octagon. Diaz previously slapped his opponent’s hand when Cerrone attempted to introduce himself. He also knocked the “Cowboy’s” hat off his head during a press conference.
The animosity proved to be great fuel, as Diaz delivered one of the best fights of his career. He picked apart Cerrone with his boxing and maintained constant pressure to secure a unanimous decision victory. His statement performance against the highly regarded Cowboy earned Diaz “BMF” brownie points- before the belt even came into existence.
The BMF contender fought Gray Maynard for a third and final time in the TUF 18 Finale in 2013. The fighting style of Diaz that fans know and love was put on full display against the lightweight. Diaz executed a barrage of strikes in the opening minutes. Maynard absorbed significant damage and was unable to bounce back. The referee stepped in but the damage was already done. As a result, Diaz claimed the first-round TKO win. He bounced back from a two-fight losing streak against Josh Thomson and Benson Henderson and gave another unpredictable but iconic performance.
In only his fourth official UFC bout, the lightweight took on Kurt Pellegrino in 2008. His opponent entered the bout as a world-class wrestler and BJJ black belt. However, it was Nate Diaz’ submission skills that came up trumps. Pellegrino was leading the way in the first round, but he tried to slam Diaz in the second round and fell right into his guard. The California fighter used his legs to encircle Pellegrino’s head and cinch his way to a triangle-choke.
His effortless delivery of the triangle choke submission was not lost on fans who cheered him on. Diaz laid back, offering a carefree smirk, double-bicep flex and topped off with a middle finger flip from both hands. Pellegrino ultimately tapped out, awarding Diaz the win and one of the coolest finishes in MMA.
The Stockton slapper delivered another memorable performance against top contender Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox 17 in 2015. Diaz utilized sniper-like accuracy to dismantle “The Menace.”
Johnson was a worthy adversary, but Diaz delivered plenty of 1-2’s that wore down his opponent by the third round. It also proved why his striking abilities should not be overlooked. In typical Diaz style, he berated his opponent and used mental warfare to inch closer to the unanimous decision victory. He even went as far as to sit back and fold his arms at one point during the fight.
His post-fight speech included a profanity-laced callout directed at the UFC’s champion, Conor McGregor. The moment solidified one of the biggest rivalries in MMA history.
‘F*ck that, Conor McGregor, you’ve taken everything I’ve worked for, motherf*cker,” declared Diaz. “You know what’s the real fight, what’s the real money fight. Me.”
Diaz’s iconic striking, tight ground game and top-notch trash-talking culminated in his first Conor McGregor fight in 2016. The UFC legends collided in their first matchup at welterweight at UFC 196. Diaz absorbed some left hooks and uppercuts at the hands of his Irish foe. However, it wasn’t enough to stifle his exceptional resilience and cardio. The bloodied battle reached its peak in round 2 when Diaz delivered some ground and pound to the Irishman from mount. To avoid the onslaught, McGregor rolled onto his front, giving up his back and allowing Diaz to execute a perfect rear-naked choke. The Irish man tapped out, and Diaz claimed the most iconic victory of his career.
The pair would rematch later that year where McGregor won by decision. However, the closely contested bout left fans wanting more, and a potential trilogy bout could be on the cards in the future.
What was your favorite fight of Nate Diaz’ career? Let us know in the comments below and happy birthday to the Stockton slapper!