Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight rivals Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz will collide this Saturday (Aug. 17, 2019) at UFC 241 from inside Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Since Pettis lost his title and a pair of consecutive bouts afterward, “Showtime” has been looking for greener pastures. He’s jumped around weight classes with inconsistent results, but his first Welterweight showcase opposite top-ranked striker Stephen Thompson resulted in his best victory in probably five years (watch it); therefore, Pettis is hoping to prove that 170 pounds is the solution. Meanwhile, Diaz elevated himself from long-time veteran to superstar status thanks to his pair of bouts with Conor McGregor. After receiving those major paychecks, Diaz has happily
vanished waited from the sidelines for a bout that interests him both personally and financially. It’s taken three years, but Diaz is ready to return.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Benson Henderson (UFC 164, WEC 53), Stephen Thompson (UFC Fight Night 148), Gilbert Melendez (UFC 181), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 6), Michael Chiesa (UFC 223), Charles Oliveira (UFC on FOX 21)
Key Losses: Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 185), Tony Ferguson (UFC 229), Edson Barboza (UFC 197), Max Holloway (UFC 206), Dustin Poirier (UFC Fight Night 120)
Keys to Victory: Pettis has faced the absolute best of the best at multiple weight classes since the moment he stepped into the Octagon. The flashy kickboxer and slick submission fighter may not be perfect, but he’s capable of ending any bout in an instant.
The blueprint to defeating Diaz was written a half-decade ago at least. The Southpaw boxer is great at throwing combinations and making the most of his reach with long, pawing straights, but he struggles with lateral movement and low kicks. Even McGregor completely changed his style to deal with Diaz in the second match, and Pettis should follow his lead.
Chop the leg. Do it early and often, and if Diaz begins to check, Pettis would be wise to attack the back leg as he did opposite Thompson. If Diaz’s leg is too trashed to pursue his opponents, none of that conditioning or grit really means much of anything.
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 196), Michael Johnson (UFC on FOX 17), Donald Cerrone (UFC 141), Jim Miller (UFC on FOX 3)
Key Losses: Conor McGregor (UFC 202), Raphael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 13), Josh Thomson (UFC on FOX 7), Ben Henderson (UFC on FOX 5)
Keys to Victory: Diaz is a pressure boxer with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Utilizing a long jab and cross, pull counters, and body shots, Diaz overwhelms opponents in volume, often until they make the mistake of giving him the neck.
In general, Diaz is pretty patient at establishing his range and making his opponent work before he really commits to the pressure strategy. He’ll wait until he really stings an opponent to fully go on the offensive, preferring to work a high-pace kickboxing match until that happens.
Against Pettis, there is no benefit to hanging around at distance for longer than is necessary. At 170 pounds, Diaz should be the heavier man. Between that advantage and Pettis’ historic problems with being bullied along the fence, it makes a ton of sense for Diaz to relentlessly walk his foe down with the hopes of landing in the clinch.
Diaz does not clinch like a wrestler. He drives his forehead into the jaw, pins an arm, and wails away at the body. That type of dirty boxing breaks opponents, and it seems well-suited to messing up Pettis’ kick-based strategy.
Bottom Line: It’s a fantastic fight that should’ve happened in 2013, but remains just as intriguing.
This is a really fun match up. The problems that plague each athlete are well-known — a result of a shared decade against top-notch competition. They both have the tools to capitalize upon their foe’s weakness, so it really will come down to whoever is able to execute the game plan more effectively. Historically, telling Pettis to stay off the fence or Diaz to check a low kick will result in a similar rate of success, so there’s a real chance both men will score significant offense in a wild scrap.
The stakes are high for each as well. Pettis is looking to prove himself a real contender at 170 pounds — defeating Diaz for a second consecutive major win would certainly help his argument, likely setting him up for another top five foe next. As for Diaz, he’s more interested in money fights than title shots, but an entertaining victory would go a long way in setting up the McGregor rubber match.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 241 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 241: “Cormier vs. Miocic 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 241, Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz will go to war in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?