Nate Diaz wouldn't be fighting tonight (May 5) in New Jersey if not for older brother Nick.
When Nick Diaz began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) to avoid the rough and tumble gang life many youths in Stockton find themselves in, Nate followed him.
When Nick decided to parlay his training into a career in mixed martial arts (MMA), it wasn't too long after Nate was also making his cagefighting debut.
Even after the former Strikeforce champion discovered and fell in love with triathlons, an activity to keep him occupied and fit in between bouts, Nate sure enough grabbed some goggles, a bike and a pair of New Balance sneakers.
It's safe to say Nate idolizes his older brother. In a world he feels is always against him, in a world full of chaos and uncertainty, Nick is his only constant. Nick was, is and will always be there for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight.
Despite this, Nate has been living -- and fighting -- in Nick's shadow for the entirety of his career. It's not hard to believe when one considers Nick made his Octagon debut at 20 years of age, his penchant for trash talking before, during and after a fight, his highly publicized suspensions for marijuana use and his seemingly inability to have a boring fight. Nick, for as much as he shies away from it, always finds himself in the spotlight.
But tonight comes Nate's opportunity to step out of his older brother's shadow.
At UFC on Fox 3: "Diaz vs. Miller," Nate can become his own man.
With a win over Jim Miller, Nate will secure a lightweight title shot against either current champion Ben Henderson or the man "Smooth" usurped, Frankie Edgar. While Nick is already a former Strikeforce champion and got a crack at UFC gold when he faced off against Carlos Condit at UFC 143, a chance for Nate to contend for the lightweight strap would do a lot to shed him of the stigma he's not as good a fighter as his older brother.
Despite winning the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the talent-rich 155-pound installment which restarted the division, Nate's always been viewed of as a lesser version of Nick. They share the same strengths -- excellent boxing and BJJ -- and are both prone to get manhandled on the canvas by any wrestler worth their salt. They look, talk and fight alike except Nick seemed to just be better at all of it.
With the welterweight brother apparently retired following his loss to Condit, Nate remains a mixed martial artist, ready to carry the Diaz banner into the Octagon. He holds an 8-3 record at lightweight in the UFC including his two most recent victories against former lightweight kingpin Takanori Gomi and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) standout Donald Cerrone.
While the way he disposed of "The Fireball Kid" was impressive, it was Diaz's performance against "Cowboy" at UFC 141, which opened eyes.
Many expected the bout to tear the roof off the MGM Grand Garden Arena and while it was a spirited affair and won Fight of the Night honors, Diaz dominated his opponent from bell to bell and put an abrupt halt to Cerrone's six fight win streak.
It's the type of performance Diaz needs tonight if he hopes to defeat Miller, who has only been stopped short by future champions and title contenders. Can Diaz fit that description and fight for the title? Can he win it?
Can the TUF 5 winner finally become his own man, apart from his older brother and his many accomplishments?
It all depends on tonight.
How the MMA history books will look back at Nate Diaz all depends on tonight.