Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE
With no one left in the division to fight except each other, Nate Diaz and Jim Miller locked themselves inside the cage at UFC on FOX 3 earlier this year in New Jersey, with the winner moving on to challenge for the 155-pound title next month in Seattle.
They were the four horsemen.
While Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson was busy settling his differences with the man he took the title from, former 155-pound kingpin Frankie Edgar, four of the top fighters in their weight class battled for the next spot in line.
While Guillard and Miller were both coming off losses, their previous win streaks (five and seven, respectively) still kept them "in the mix." That is, until "The Young Assassin" was tapped out by the AMA Fight Club product in the main event of UFC on FX back in January.
"The Cowboy," meanwhile, had his own problems.
That's because he let Diaz get inside his head prior to their UFC 141 showdown in late 2011, where the wily Stockton slugger not only outstruck Cerrone, he set a CompuStrike record in the process, landing an astounding 82 percent of his strikes by connecting on 258 out of 314 punches.
And then there were two.
Miller and Diaz were squared off in the main event of UFC on FOX 3 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, a short drive from Miller's hometown of Sparta, New Jersey. In addition, Diaz was a sizable underdog in enemy territory, coming into "The Garden State" at a lip-smacking +190.
Here's how it all went down.
No touch of gloves and Miller opens with a hard outside leg kick. Diaz paws with the jab and they tie up before the hometown hero pushes hid foe into the fence. Both fighters remain busy but neither gains an advantage as time ticks away on the clock.
Miller slips and lands on his keister, allowing Diaz to escape.
They reset and Miller tries to circle his prey and work inside, but the interloper's long reach and stinging jab are keeping him at bay. A body shot lands and the home brewer appears befuddled. With no answer for the loosey-goosey attack of Nick's younger brother he shoots for a takedown.
Diaz maintains balance and shucks him off against the fence, but in doing so ties Miller up around the neck and uncorks a few knees that land on the button. He escapes, but has his ribs roasted in the process. Miller quickly circles out of the frying pan and right into the fire.
A straight left right down Broadway puts Miller on his ass.
Diaz jumps in for the kill but the wounded warrior shifts into survival mode and clings to a leg. His attacker gets too comfortable on the ground and Miller rolls him over and looks for the choke but a mad scramble sees both men find their feet.
With 10 seconds left in the round Miller muscles his to the floor and against the cage but Diaz sweeps before the bell.
"In 24 professional fights, Jim Miller has never been finished," observes UFC play-by-play man Mike Goldberg, just as the subject of his trivia lands a hard low kick. Diaz walks right through it and shoves him into the cage for some dirty boxing.
Miller manages to crack him with an elbow, but looks exasperated under the relentless barrage of incoming punches.
Diaz has apparently had enough of the back-and-forth exchanges and proceeds to hulk up before dropping his hands and screaming obscenities. Miller charges in with a flying knee and gets lit up for his efforts. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan giggles in approval.
As Miller charges forward, desperate to put together some type of meaningful offense, Diaz slinks his arm under and rolls him to the floor, immediately securing a power guillotine. Dan's younger sibling gets to his knees but is once again rolled over and Diaz gets all his weight on top, forcing Miller to tap.
Diaz immediately pops to his feet, stares down the camera and flexes while screaming "WHAT? WHAT?"
Perhaps that question was for reigning division champion Ben Henderson. Will the "Smooth" one have an answer when they battle for the belt in the main event of UFC on FOX 5 from the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington? We'll find out on Dec. 8, 2012.