For my fellow gambling degenerates, worried that you will not be sufficiently entertained by the stellar fight card the UFC has put together for us tonight, additional adrenaline and a sound investment can be found in the rather peculiar line for the Diaz-Cerrone fight.
Already a candidate for fight of the year, this matchup will pit the red-hot Donald Cerrone against the wily, well-rounded Nate Diaz. Sports books have Cerrone favored at around -325 and Diaz the underdog at roughly +250. The bet here is Diaz....
Cerrone’s recent success has been well publicized, making your average UFC fan well aware of the absolute tear he has been on since his arrival in the organization. In recent fights Cerrone has displayed newfound discipline and focus and has handily laid waste to a slew of lightweight contenders. He is for real and will be treating us to entertaining fights for years to come.
Diaz is 1-2 in his past three fights but there is far more to the story. As some may remember, the Stocktonian moved up to welterweight after a split decision loss to the 2nd or 3rd best lightweight in the world, Grey Maynard. He immediately scored two TKO victories against solid strikers (Rory Markham and Marcus Davis) before being outmuscled for three rounds against a pair of much larger and stronger opponents (Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald), a problem he is not likely to have back at lightweight. His return to lightweight was a dominant finish of Takanori Gomi only a few months ago.
The similarities between these two fighters far outweigh the differences. Both possess tall, lanky builds and considerable reach for 155 lb.-ers. Both have an excellent striking game (though Cerrone preferring a far more diverse attack than Diaz’s savvy boxing) and both have deadly submissions. The difference maker here will be Nate Diaz’s very underrated Judo throws and overall ability to control position. Standing I think the fight is a wash-Cerrone has more weapons but has proven very hit-able in his career. It will also be the first time he will be fighting a solid striker over whom he does not enjoy a size-able reach advantage. In the clinch Diaz is far trickier, if it goes to the mat Diaz is likely to be in control and is too experienced and skilled a Jiu-Jitsu player to fall victim to Cerrone’s guard.
If Diaz can consistently score points standing up and mix in the occasional clinch, takedown and submission scavenger hunt he has a very real shot at a decision victory here. Most of Diaz’s losses have come to strong wrestlers who were able to keep him on his back while he, with far TOO MUCH patience, looked for submissions and slowly lost rounds. Cerrone, much like Anderson Silva and Carlos Condit, utilizes a dangerous guard in place of polished take down defense and never uses his wrestling offensively, so he should not pose this threat to Diaz.
Straight up, I would be betting on Cerrone to win a decision victory via greater activity. However, the opportunity is there for Diaz if he is willing to fight smart and mix things up. At +250 Nate Diaz is the bet of the night.