Nate Diaz will be looking to etch his name into the UFC’s hall of fame by taking home the “Baddest M**********r Belt” come the 2nd November. The Stockton native made his long awaited return at UFC 241 with a sensational win against “the wheaties box guy” Anthony Pettis, showcasing exactly why he’s a fan favourite with his relentless pressure, never ending cardio and a disgusting amount of strikes.
After the fight Nate claimed himself to be the “baddest m**********r in the game” before calling out Masvidal to challenge him for that title. Fans have since flocked to the idea of that fight. Since then Dana has created an official belt as well as getting none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to present the belt to the winner. The fact that Dana (who is so adamant the UFC doesn’t need more belts) decided to create a belt tells you just how big this fight really is. The world is finally starting to realise just how badass Nate is so i wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out firing on all cylinders to maintain the recognition he is getting at the moment
However the man standing in his way is none other than Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal; considered a journeyman just a couple months ago, Jorge has been propelled into stardom after dishing out devastating back to back losses and i doubt he’s looking to stop the run there.
Nate is going to have to be on top of his game to lay claim to the baddest m**********r belt and here is exactly what he needs to do
As i discussed in my preview to the fight, Masvidal’s fight iq is second to none. The devastating flying knee he dismantled Ben Askren with was no fluke, there was video’s of him practicing and discussing it days before the fight. He’d done his homework and looked at exactly how Ben Askren likes to start a fight (with his head down, looking for a single leg), he saw Lawler’s approach to sprawl was fairly ineffective so he used his initiative to practise the flying knee, resulting in a 5 second KO. As for the Till fight, he feinted that left hook multiple times before committing to it, he saw that Till would step back with his head high when he dummied it. So eventually when he did commit to it, Jorge knew exactly how Till would react so he could land the punches after it. Pure Genius.
As for Nate Diaz, he is very predictable in how he goes about his fights. Marching forward, hell-bent on hitting you with a disgusting amount of strikes to the head whilst rarely checking leg kicks. In addition to his ability to use his initiative during fights, Masvidal and his team have probably watched the tape of Diaz against Pettis numerous times, already having picked out weak spots and formulating plans on how to nullify him.
This is why it’s essential that Diaz mixes it up, perhaps going to the body a couple times and throwing different combinations instead of his traditional one-two. The more unpredictable Diaz is, the more he will be taking away one of Masvidal’s biggest strengths – his fight iq.
Set the pace early and maintain
Where as Nate loves to grow into a fight, Masvidal has been known to coast through the later rounds of a fight. Masvidal knows this, he’s 0-5 in split decisions so there’s no doubt he’ll be looking to push that little bit harder in every round in order to impress the judges.
As for Nate, he is more than likely to take the later rounds as his cardio is second to none and as i previously mentioned he likes to grow into a fight. Watching his opponent tire almost boosts his energy, he has the ability to somehow hit even faster and harder in the later parts of a fight. However there have been fights where he does start slower, he needs to make sure he isn’t just relying on getting the finish late on and is actually trying to win the early rounds.
If nate can come out on all four cylinders, i think this could be a very long night for Masvidal. Only a few fighters can match Nate’s cardiovascular ability, Masvidal is not one of them. There is a huge chance Nate can drown Masvidal in pressure like he did Pettis if he comes out the gate with intensity.
Phone booth warfare
As mentioned earlier, one of Gamebred biggest strengths is his ability to make reads and adapt. He’s got a great knack for trying out some dummies, feinting a few times and setting up traps to catch his opponents in. However for him to do this he needs space…
Diaz needs to replicate what he did to Pettis against Masvidal. He needs to drown Masvidal in his relentless pressure, it’d be highly unlikely that Masvidal can make reads whilst being punched and slapped 5 times a second. If he can drown Masvidal in pressure, Masvidal won’t have time to set up his strikes instead relying on his power – which isn’t that great regardless of his record.
Another thing Masvidal likes to do is throw lengthy body kicks to take the sail out of the opponents wind and to set up punches, but just like Pettis found out its very hard to throw kicks when Diaz is centimeters away from you. If Diaz can employ this constant distance and pressure, it’s going to be a tough ask for Masvidal to outfox “The Stockton Slugger”.