After winning the rubber match and securing the trilogy under his belt, Nate Diaz could not have looked any better in defeating Gray Maynard at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, last night (Sat., Nov. 30, 2013). It took Diaz one round to pummel Maynard, with Diaz throwing everything but the kitchen sink to send "The Bully" out on his feet.
The Cesar Gracie-trained product was able to snap a two-fight losing streak, and although his employment was never really put into question (because let us face it, UFC loves having the Diaz brothers around), it is a big sign of relief and there has got to be weight that is lifted off of his shoulders.
He also became $50,000 richer, taking home the "Knockout of the Night" bonus for his efforts.
There are several scenarios where Diaz can be included. For a fighter who has been with the company since winning TUF 5 in 2007, Diaz has earned one title fight and provided combat sports fans with excellent fights and performances that diehard fans will remember -- and be pleased about -- for quite some time.
Now, the younger Diaz brother can relax and examine his next move.
Diaz told the media earlier this week that he does not get paid enough to make the Lightweight cut, having difficulty shedding the pounds that require for him to fight at 155 pounds. It looks like his next fight might take place in the Welterweight division; however, there is a slight problem there.
After being dominated by Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim back in 2011, he left the division and went even (3-3) at 155 pounds. Diaz, as big as he is, looked undersized at 170 pounds and MacDonald and Kim were able to have their way with the Stockton fighter on the mat quite easily.
Would it be a wise decision to return to that weight class?
If it will affect his health and he will feel better doing so -- then, absolutely. Although, his Welterweight track record (2-2 in that weight class) proves that he may be better suited for the Lightweight division. Who knows, maybe his boss will convince him to stay at 155 pounds and throw more cash his way.
The main event winner also stated that he would like to exact revenge on Josh Thomson and feels like he would deserve a title shot that is currently help by Anthony Pettis. Like we mentioned before, Diaz is 3-3 in his last six and he may need to do more for a lightweight title fight.
After Thomson was the first to stop him because of strikes, it is obvious that Diaz is interested in that fight. Yet, more often than not, rematches with such a close window between their first and second fight do not materialize. That fight is something Diaz will have to earn in the near future unless, of course, it makes business sense for their paths to cross again.
Intriguing options at lightweight include Rafael dos Anjos, who is on a five-fight winning streak and needs a big win to certify him being a top contender.
There is also T.J. Grant, who stopped Maynard in his previous outing and was about to challenge Pettis for the Lightweight belt; however, constant injuries have damaged his hopes of returning to the promotion and heading straight into a championship clash. Indeed, a fight against Diaz would be a great way to prove he has technically not gone anywhere, but we do not know how long he will remain on the sidelines with his concussion issue.
Finally, Edson Barboza and Danny Castillo will meet at UFC on FOX 9 in a few weeks and quite frankly, a stand up war between Diaz and Barboza is just salivating to even think about. So, there are options that make sense for Diaz at Lightweight.
Will he stay?
He does keep mentioning title fights, just like he did in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik, inviting his training partner, Gilbert Melendez, to get some camera time with him. If Diaz wants another title fight -- after being unsuccessful at claiming gold against Ben Henderson at UFC on FOX 5 last year -- there is no question he needs to do more to earn it.
Either way, we do not think Diaz was too bummed that he missed his high school reunion for this after all.
For complete UFC's TUF 18 Finale: "Diaz vs. Maynard 3" coverage, click here.