Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight title challenger, Nate Diaz, will throw down opposite YouTube boxer, Jake Paul, this Saturday (Aug. 5, 2023) on DAZN pay-per-view (PPV) from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Diaz likes to disappear for years at a time, which makes getting a full read on his current skills difficult. On one hand, he’s been losing more often than not since 2016. However, that’s still only three losses: pre-Mayweather Conor McGregor, peak Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards. That’s a trio of elite competitors. Last time out, Diaz out-boxed Tony Ferguson and convinced him to shoot into a guillotine ... a win that doesn’t tell us much given Ferguson’s decline. Now, he transitions to an entirely different sport against a younger, bigger opponent, and well, it’s easy to understand why many Diaz fans are nervous.
Let’s take a closer look at his boxing skill:
Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: we’ve never seen Diaz box! He’s sparred with professional boxers for many years, but this analysis is entirely based on his decade-plus inside the Octagon.
Diaz’s boxing game is built upon length and conditioning. The standard Diaz gameplan has long been to pressure and clinch or work the opponent into the
fence ropes. Either way, it revolves around forward movement and closing the distance. In the Octagon, fleet-footed opponents would often circle and kick to counter this strategy, the boxing ring should serve as a better field for this strategy.
More than most Southpaws, Diaz makes great use of his right-handed jab. He throws the strike with enough snap to make it a threat, but Diaz builds from it exceptionally well. Often, it’s simply a measuring tool, used to line up Diaz’s long straight left (GIF).
In addition, Diaz does a nice job of drawing his opponent out with the jab. After getting touched by a jab, many fighters will look to immediately return with their own punches. Diaz is aware of this and will pull back or simply let his foe miss — reach is a beautiful thing — and counter with his own left cross or right hook (GIF).
Nate Diaz was really about to beat that content creators ass pic.twitter.com/pEDoX9FXKp— MMA Mania (@mmamania) August 3, 2023
If Diaz is able to back his foe into the fence, it’s another area that he excels. After punching a bit at range, he’ll move to the clinch, where Diaz does a nice job keeping good head position in the clinch and ripping into his opponent’s body (GIF). For example, Diaz loves to secure an underhook, dig his forehead into his opponent’s jaw, and then relentlessly chip away at his foe with his free hand.
Relentless straight punches and clinch work are the among the quickest ways to wear out an opponent. In the ring, it’s still a very viable strategy.
A major part of Diaz’s success revolves around capitalizing on his opponent’s fatigue. Early on, he’s more hittable, as Diaz is still finding the range himself and is not the quickest fighter. However, as the fight wears on, it becomes Diaz who lands cleanly, and his opponent will often come up within inches of Diaz’s chin. Missing punches is tiring too!
Diaz exhausts his opponent’s largely by never allowing them to rest. For most athletes, a fight is a series of sprints. Conor McGregor, for example, will step in with a big combination or kick — a sprint, if you will — and then return to his stance and movement, recovering until the next big assault.
Meanwhile, Diaz handles the fight like it’s another triathlon. He stays on his opponent at all times, feinting, jabbing, or countering constantly. He may never run quite as fast as the sprinter, but Diaz often catches up and takes the lead when his foe no longer has the chance to take a breather.
Diaz has the tools and strategy to take Paul into deep waters and expose his inexperience. However, he’s also facing some serious disadvantages in terms of age and size. That dilemma is responsible for the match up’s intrigue — we really just don’t know how Diaz will look in the boxing ring against a beatable, bigger opponent.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.
To check out the latest and greatest Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz event-led news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.