LAS VEGAS – Say this for Nate Diaz: When it comes to the workings of the UFC’s lightweight division, he’s clearly been paying attention.
After his brutal first-round TKO of Gray Maynard (11-3-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) in the main event of Saturday night’s TUF 18 Finale, Diaz (17-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) showed up to the post-fight press conference and laid out his future plans as a UFC lightweight. Will he keep pushing for a fight with UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis? Maybe wait for a rematch with Josh Thomson or Benson Henderson, both of whom he mentioned in unflattering tones during his post-fight remarks?
“I don’t know,” Diaz said. “I’m thinking maybe I’ll sit on the sidelines for a good long minute until somebody gets injured, then fight for a title like everybody else is doing.”
Was he joking? Hard to say, which is the case with many of his recent comments.
But there’s at least some truth in it, since there does seem to be a mini-injury epidemic among UFC lightweights lately. First T.J. Grant lost his title shot due to lingering concussion issues, and then replacement challenger Thomson was forced to forego his when Pettis went down with a knee injury. If Diaz waited, it might not be such a bad idea.
Then again, waiting around for fights isn’t something Diaz has excelled at in his UFC tenure, as he was quick to point out.
“I do have a lot of losses on my record and other people have a lot of s–t to talk about me losing fights, but if you take a look at my record compared to other people’s records, for every two fights [they fight], I’ve fought six, seven times,” Diaz said.
He has a point. The win over Maynard marked his 19th appearance in the Octagon. Maynard, who also debuted on the same TUF 5 Finale in June of 2007, has only fought 14 times in that same time span. While many fighters say they’d ideally like to average around three fights a year, Diaz has actually done it, even if he may not believe he’s better off as a result.
“If they were consistent like I am,” he said of lightweight contemporaries, “they’d have more losses than me. So maybe I’ll sit around for a while and wait for an injury to pop up.”
We’ve certainly heard worse career plans. And thanks to his $50,000 bonus for “Knockout of the Night,” maybe Diaz can afford to take a little time off and see what comes of it.
For complete coverage of the TUF 18 Finale, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.