Conor McGregor slayer, Nate Diaz, returned to the Octagon at UFC 241 tonight (Sat., Aug. 17, 2019) inside Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., after a three-year layoff to tangle with former Lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, in a Welterweight pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event.
It was widely regarded as the “People’s Main Event” leading up to the show and it didn’t disappoint, with Diaz proving that ring rust doesn’t exist in the “209” en route to an impressive unanimous decision win.
Pettis came out in a Southpaw stance looking to establish pressure, while Pettis focused on stopping it with low kicks. Pettis connected with a short shot as Diaz lumbered in, but it didn’t stop him from mashing “Showtime” up against the fence and trying to get dirty. Pettis broke away and found enough distance to land a solid head kick as Diaz once again looked to close the distance. Diaz caught a kick and used it to get the fight to floor, but not without Pettis threatening with a guillotine choke, which he was unable to finish. In a scramble, Pettis gave up his back and Diaz was able to drill him with rabbit punches and take his back, angling for a rear-naked choke that never materialized as an entertaining opening round came to a close.
Both fighters came out for the second stanza trading low hard low kicks, with Pettis stalking Diaz early. Diaz appeared to be bothered by something over his left eye, which forced the referee to intervene and have the ringside doctor check his vision. After a few seconds the two were back at it, with Pettis just missing with a big cross. Diaz was able to wrap him up along the fence and Pettis just dropped into side control, but he was able to get back to his feet quickly. Diaz rattled him with a nice knee to the temple and then an elbow along the cage as Pettis appeared to be fading. The two traded along the fence as if they were in a phone booth, with Diaz pouring on the pressure late. Diaz ended it with a solid flurry down the stretch as both fighters were giving it everything they had.
Diaz appeared to be getting stronger the longer the fight went, but Pettis wasn’t about to just roll over. Indeed, he appeared to be actually compromised with a lower leg injury, but continued to stand and trade. Diaz was able to eventually nail him up along the cage with a hard shot, dropping Pettis to his knees. Diaz looked like he was close to a finish, but the referee gave him some latitude and he was able to survive, reversing Diaz in a scramble. He didn’t have much left in the tank, riding Diaz for about a minute looking to recover. Diaz eventually reversed position and boxed up Pettis’ ears from behind, angling for a rear-naked choke that never materialized.
What an entertaining, technical match up.
Diaz returned tonight from a lengthy hiatus to defeat a super talented opponent not-named Conor McGregor since Dec. 2015. And he did it emphatically and decisively ... without controversy.
That’s really, really impressive and deserving of a big reward moving forward. But we’ll settle for a grimy Jorge Masvidal bout in the meantime.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 241 fight card, 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+.
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