Photo by Tracy Lee via Combat Lifestyle
Nick Diaz will try to become UFC welterweight champion later this month against Georges St. Pierre in Montreal, but before he does, we're taking a look back at the last time he was awarded 170 pounds of gold as one half of the Strikeforce: "Miami" main event in early 2010.
If you look back at the history of mixed martial arts (MMA) and take into consideration all the promotions that helped forge the sport become the global phenomenon that it is today, chances are you'll find a fight with Nick Diaz somewhere in its top 10 of all time.
And if it's not top 10 "best ever," it's unquestionably ranked among "the most talked about ever."
Diaz first made a name for himself in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) by pasting Robbie Lawler at UFC 47, despite being a +200 underdog. In addition, he had a bitter rivalry with K.J. Noons under the EliteXC banner and who could forget his insane gogoplata over Takanori Gomi in PRIDE?
It's probably best we don't mention the Nashville melee.
True, his post-fight brawl against Jason Miller was the talk of the town, but Diaz did something else memorable while he was competing under the Strikeforce banner, going head-to-head against Marius Zaromskis for the vacant welterweight title just over three years ago in Miami, Florida.
At the time, there was a reason they called the Lithuanian import a "Whitemare."
Zaromskis entered the bout having won nine of his last 10 fights, including back-to-back vicious head kick knockouts in DREAM, one of which secured him the Japanese promotion's 170-pound strap. He was a dangerous, aggressive striker who was a live dog at +200.
In fairness to the oddsmakers, Diaz -- also 9-1 over his last 10 -- was riding a five-fight winning streak with five finishes and had recently crushed former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock less than one year prior. Now, it was time to capture a belt of his own.
Here's how it all went down.
Referee Troy Waugh reads his instructions as both fighters bump foreheads and growl. No touch of gloves to start the action and Zaromskis launches himself forward with a leaping side kick. Diaz nonchalantly steps out of the way and paws the jab, but eats a solid combination as punishment for his lackadaisical defense.
Diaz responds with an overhand left and Zaromskis gets on his bicycle.
The fighters reset and meet in the center of the Hexagon. Not surprisingly, fireworks erupt with fists flying in all different directions. Diaz closes the distance and eats a knee to the body before locking up his foe and driving him into the cage.
The Stockton bad boy spends the next 60 seconds slamming his knee into the thigh of Zaromskis, who seems content to just rest against the fence and take punishment below the waist.
"I know one thing," remarks Showtime color commentator Mauro Ranallo, "Every time Nick Diaz is on the card, the CompuStrike employees cringe, just because of the sheer volume of strikes this guy delivers!"
Diaz manages a brief takedown but applies no pressure from top, allowing Zaromskis to escape. He finds no reprieve on his feet as Nate's older brother is in pursuit and striking at a feverish pace.
Suddenly, disaster strikes.
Perhaps a bit too confident, Diaz plants his feet to deliver one of his trademark combos, but Zaromskis weathers the storm and fires off a quick knee to the body followed by a flush left to the jaw, sending Diaz ass over tin cups.
The "Whitemare" pounces and it looks like the end is near.
It is, but not for Diaz, who turtles up and eats a few shots to the dome, which draws a brief halt to the action -- as well as a warning for Zaromskis -- from an interfering Waugh. The fight is quickly restarted and Diaz escapes, gets back to his feet and proceeds to walk down his foe.
The Lithuanian gets bullied into the fence and his conditioning begins to fade, forcing him to push off.
The crowd erupts in chants of "DIAZ! DIAZ! DIAZ!" and he rewards them with punches in bunches that has Zaromskis walking on ice. He starts to take an inordinate amount of punishment but gets trapped against the fence and has nowhere to go.
Diaz lands a thunderous uppercut followed by a blistering body blow.
Zaromskis is getting lit up and makes a break for it on wobbly legs, but Diaz chases him down, never letting his hands stop punching until a short right hook puts the "Whitemare" on his keister. The referee is forced to put an end to the beating at 4:38 of the opening frame. Nick Diaz is your new Strikeforce welterweight champion.
That was then. This is now.
Despite losing back-to-back fights to Carlos Condit and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), Diaz will have a chance to add another 170-pound strap to his collection when he challenges Georges St. Pierre in the UFC 158 main event on March 16, 2013 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The stage is set, but who will make history in "The City of Saints?"