UFC Ultimate Fighter TUF 18 Finale: 'Diaz vs Maynard 3' final 'Fighting Words'

Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

All fighters but one successfully made weight for their respective bouts at UFC's The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale, which takes place tonight (Sat., Nov. 30, 2013) from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The men's and women's bantamweight finals are on deck, along with the third meeting between Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard in the main event.

We are just a few moments away from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale: "Diaz vs. Maynard 3" main card, which takes place at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, and can be seen live on FOX Sports 1.

This is technically the third time Nate Diaz will fight Gray Maynard, since the pair first met in the semifinals of TUF 5's Lightweight tournament and then once again at UFC Fight Night 20 (more on their first two bouts here).

Diaz was able to submit "The Bully" to move onto TUF 5's tournament finals, proceeding to take home the "six-figure" contract. Maynard was able to avenge his loss in the main event at UFC Fight Night 20, earning the split decision after a three-round war with his Stockton counterpart.

As both men finished off a week of mixed martial arts (MMA) media appearances and successfully made weight yesterday (see staredown pic here), it's time for their final "Fighting Words" before the time for talking is done and the fists start to fly.

TUF 18 Media Day

Earlier this week, both main event Lightweight standouts spoke to the members of the media regarding their third meeting, and each had interesting things to say about each other and the way they are approaching this fight.

The younger Diaz brother was asked several questions, which included helping out his friend, UFC Women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and rebounding from a two-fight losing streak.

On what was it like to help out Rousey's team on this season of TUF:

"It was cool. It was nice of her to invite me out and train with the team, and meet all the people. I see a bunch of girls from the team and some guys from the team and they were all really cool people. I was just telling them I got to see from an outer experience instead of the inner looking out."

On his thoughts heading into the rubber match with Maynard:

"It's a new fight, it's up to date now. This is what I'm dealing with now. I don't really take too much from the last fights. I think he's an improved fighter since the last one and we're going to see what's going to happen on Saturday."

On how he hopes to make a statement in this fight following a rough patch:

"I just want to go out, and do well -- and win. I think I'm more experienced ... it's not that I'm better, it's maybe that I'm a little different."

Maynard, who will also look to return to his winning ways, is prepared for a war in which he feels ready.

On what he is prepared for:

"I'm prepared for pretty much what I was prepared for the last time -- three years ago. Boxing, tricky jiu-jitsu, good cardio."

On where he sees this playing in as an opportunity to get back on track:

"It's a huge part. You always want to get back on track -- and that's a way to do it. Win...winning solves everything."

On if Diaz looking past him creates an advantage for him:

"I don't really look at what he does and where he's at. I'm juts prepared for the best Nate, I'm prepared for him to come at me and I try to be the best Gray that I could be. My opponent, I don't really care where they're at -- minds and all the stuff -- I don't look at that. I can only control me."

UFC on FOX Interviews

Ariel Helwani interviewed both Diaz and Maynard after the weigh-in, where both fighters had an intense stare down before meeting for the third time in just a few hours.

Diaz expects a clear win over Maynard, just like the first time, and shed some light on his high school reunion drama.

On if he was close to not showing up because of his high school reunion plans:

"If they were going to make the change to next week, or in two weeks in Sacramento by my house, I was up for that. But, they weren't making the change so I was here the whole time."

On if he can finish him quickly and get on a plane to make it for the end:

"That's a little much, Ariel."

On what he needs to do to not leave it in the hands of the judges:

"Just go out there and win the fight. That's my objective, that's my plan -- that's what I'm here for, that's what I train for."

Helwani caught up with Maynard, who talked about fighting Diaz for the third time.

On if this is what the doctor ordered for him:

"Anybody is just what the doctor ordered. That one hurt, I was back in the gym the day after, and I wanted to get back in the cage ASAP."

On if he feels forgotten in the involving 155-pound division:

"Maybe in a couple of people's eyes, but that's my job to prove I'm not. I'm still a top guy and to prove that I'm the top guy."

On if he will show off his wrestling this time around with Diaz:

"I'll show off everything. I'm at a great gym where we do it all. They did a great job of helping me gel it all together. Hopefully it will go everywhere."

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of TUF 18 Finale main card action on fight night (Sat., Nov. 30, 2013), which is slated to begin promptly at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. The latest fight-by-fight updates of all the live action will begin to flow around 7 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook.

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