Perhaps the year away from the Octagon re-energized Nate Diaz, who put forth one of his finest performances in his UFC career.
The Stockton, Calif., trash talker defeated Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 17 earlier tonight (Sat., Dec. 19, 2015) via unanimous decision inside Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
All three judges scored the bout 29-28.
Diaz, 30, used his boxing -- which was his best attribute -- and it proved to be just too much for Johnson to handle for the course of the 15-minute bout. Diaz was, of course, waving, taunting and talking trash throughout the contest.
Johnson landed a low kick to the lead leg of Diaz to start things off in the opening round. Diaz ate several more low kicks, but started to open up with his boxing and land some solid punches as the round wore on. Johnson had difficulty getting inside of Diaz's range, but he landed more low kicks when the opportunity and landed a nice kick to the body.
In the second, Diaz landed a solid one-two combination and followed that up with a pair of jabs, showcasing his reach advantage over Johnson. "The Menace" landed a nice left hand, but Diaz answered and kept coming solid combinations and started to put on pressure and then began to taunt him. Diaz histrionics were in full swing by the end of the round as he kept waving and gesturing at Johnson, who did land a few strikes of his own, but began showing signs of fatigue.
In the final round Diaz continued finding a home for his one-two combination and threw in some head kick attempts and a few knees from the clinch as he landed his most significant punches of the fight. Johnson wilted, while Diaz looked as fresh as could be. Johnson moved in for a takedown in the final seconds of the round, but it was to no avail as Diaz ended up transitioning to a kneebar attack as the horn sounded.
It was an outstanding performance by Diaz, who picked up his first win in his return after a one-year layoff. He was ranked No.15 in the Lightweight division, and will likely get a top-ten opponent in his next bout.
Meanwhile, Johnson drops his second fight in a row. The 29-year old Blackzilian-trained fighter falls to 8-6 in UFC competition.
For full UFC on FOX 17: "dos Anjos vs. Cerrone," including play-by-play results, click here.