Too soon for Diaz?
Clay Guida takes on Diaz at UFC 94
Report by Brady Crytzer
Photo by Natasha Chornesky
Since winning The Ultimate Fighter 5, Stockton, California’s Nate Diaz has been on an unexpected tear through the UFC lightweight division. With five quality wins under his belt in a little less than two years, the 23-year-old look to take on the biggest test of his career in perennial contender Clay “The Carpenter” Guida. Although he’s improved each time he’s stepped into the Octagon, is the high octane Guida going to be too much, too soon?
Reminiscent of a Kid Rock rendition of The Little Engine that Could, Nate Diaz’s UFC story to this point has been one of guts and glory. After promising victory in his debut on The Ultimate Fighter, Diaz delivered in a big way. Although his victory in the TUF Finale ended under controversial circumstances due to a shoulder injury suffered by opponent Manvel Gamburyan, there has been no doubt of what followed.
With a strong background in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a Ph.D in toughness, Diaz continued to surprise everyone when he handled UFC veteran Junior Assuncao with relative ease. He may have been tall, and a bit on the scrawny side, but Nate Diaz was a scrapper.
Facing a fellow UFC hopeful in Alvin Robinson Diaz proved that he was up to the challenge by stopping the Colorado native in the first round.
In his next bout, Diaz squared off against a heavily favored Kurt “Batman” Pelligrino. A native of New Jersey, Pellegrino had gone the distance in a grappling war with Joe “Daddy” Stevenson and lost a razor thin decision. The deck was stacked against him and Diaz once again promised a seemingly far fetched victory. The kid from Stockton submitted Pellegrino with a masterful triangle choke in the second round. Nate Diaz was no longer a scrapper.
He was a contender.
In his most recent outing, Diaz scratched and clawed his way to a decision over one of the toughest hombres in the game in Josh Neer. It was the first time in his UFC career that Diaz went to the judges’ scorecards. Regardless, there was no doubt about who one the fight.
Enter Clay Guida.
A perennial contender, Guida’s recent string of losses seemed to be taking him from rising star to lightweight gatekeeper. Every fight was a war, and Guida was just one more split decision loss away from losing his spot. Not wanting to go quietly, Guida handed TUF 6 champion Mac Danzig his first UFC loss in his last appearance. Rest assured, he’ll be looking to do it again on January 31st.
The question now begs to be asked, if Diaz should pull out an impressive victory over Guida, what comes next? Would the UFC be willing to put a kid fresh off of SpikeTV into title contention? Will Diaz’s age make the big one “just a few fights away” regardless of the victories he puts together?
They may not have a choice. That’s just the way Diaz likes it.