Welcome to the 209 b****! Ah yes, time for fans of MMA's most polarizing brothers to rejoice.
Nate Diaz was not even given a "puncher's chance" going into Saturday's main event against Conor McGregor at UFC 196. There were a number of factors going against him: He wasn't training much at the time, as he had just finished up a vacation in Cabo. He was also a last minute injury-replacement for Rafael Dos Anjos, so he didn't even have time to spar. As McGregor jokingly said (but kind of serious too), the "C" in "UFC," stands for Conor. Both Dana White and McGregor have admitted that they went over a short list of candidates for who would be the most ideal replacement for Dos Anjos. They both decided that a fight with Diaz would draw the most interest. Diaz even acknowledged that he just might get beat up on that night, but it was too big of a payday to turn down.
Considering all these factors, many fans were not even pondering the notion that Diaz could actually win this fight, but rather: in which round would Conor knock him out? Ultimately, Nate delivered an upset of epic proportions. It's not as though he got lucky either as McGregor was completely gassed and shot for an impromptu takedown (which he never does) out of desperation.
This is not the first time that the Diaz Brothers have been written off, only to have them pull off the upset and proceed to extend their middle fingers. While they have their detractors, we all secretly wish we could be like them. Who wouldn't want to break every rule, tell their boss "where to go," and be as rebellious as they please? For you wrestling fans, this is exactly why the Stone Cold Steve Austin character reached such insane levels of popularity.
Regardless of their popularity and success, they are somehow always viewed as underdogs.
Here are the top 12 fighters who underestimated the Diaz brothers.
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12 Melvin Guillard (Nate Diaz)
It's not that Melvin Guillard underestimated Nate Diaz - he underestimates everybody. Guillard's cockiness was on full display on the set of The Ultimate Fighter 2 as he was a member of Rich Franklin's team. He actually did display a ton of talent and potential on the show, but his career has been less than spectacular. Of course, his brash demeanor was in play for his fight with Diaz at UFC Fight Night, in 2009. It didn't serve him well as the younger Diaz calmly submitted him via guillotine in the second round.
11 K.J. Noons (Nick Diaz)
K.J. Noons and Nick Diaz first met at Elite XC's "Renegade" show in 2007. Diaz ended up losing the fight via lame doctor's stoppage. But it was all worth it because during the post-fight interviews, Nick Diaz uttered what would become one of the most popular Diaz catch-phrases going forward: "Don't be scared, homie!"
Noons underestimated Diaz in their second encounter, figuring that he had it under control and would handle him as he did in their first fight. Not this time...as Diaz took a five rounds decision and the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship.
10 Marcus Davis (Nate Diaz)
Marcus Davis was licking his chops when Nate Diaz had no intention of bringing the fight to the ground in their scrap at UFC 118. Before he got into MMA, Davis was a pro boxer and he figured that Diaz was playing right into his strengths. Diaz went on to overwhelm Davis with that "pitter-patter" style of boxing that the brothers execute so effectively. By the time the second round rolled in, Davis' face was pretty busted up. He was game, but sadly for him, his face went from busted up to busted wide open. The referee stopped this massacre at 4:02 of the third round.
9 Joe Riggs (Nick Diaz)
This one is a special case because Joe Riggs won the actual fight (a fight that nobody remembers). The more famous fight took place afterwards at the hospital, where Riggs certainly underestimated Nick Diaz' craziness. Riggs has been billed as the aggressor of the fight, in his words: "I just f---d you up on TV. That's two, and you're out. Time to go back to the WEC!"
Diaz immediately charged him and clocked him in the mouth, and the hospital brawl was on. At one point, Riggs' IV got knocked out and blood was spraying everywhere.
8 Gray Maynard (Nate Diaz)
Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz had fought before in 2010, where Maynard won a close split decision. They had also fought on the set of The Ultimate Fighter, where Diaz had actually won via submission. Although, Diaz' win did not count in the record books, because fights on The Ultimate Fighter are only exhibition bouts, many pundits still viewed this as a legit match. Maynard figured he would have his way with Diaz because he managed to win the striking exchanges in their more recent fight. His submission loss to Diaz was also way back in 2007 and he hadn't been submitted since then. The rubber match took place in 2013 at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale...and it got ugly. Diaz lit Maynard up with repeated, unanswered punches to the head and basically knocked him out on his feet.
7 Kurt Pellegrino (Nate Diaz)
By all accounts, Kurt Pellegrino is a pretty nice guy. He's always given hilarious and good-natured interviews. He was also a pretty decent fighter in his day, but boy, Nate Diaz certainly dummied him. Pellegrino is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Marcelo Garcia and getting submitted via triangle choke was the least of his worries. Not only did Diaz lock up the triangle choke in the second round of their contest in 2008, he also flipped Pellegrino the "double bird" while he was in the middle of executing the move, and choking his lights out.
6 Robbie Lawler (Nick Diaz)
Oh yes, THE Robbie Lawler (current Welterweight Champion) fell victim to a Nick Diaz knockout. The reason Lawler isn't higher up on this list is because the fight happened 12 freaking years ago at UFC 47 and his game has evolved immensely since then. Nevertheless, striking has always been Lawler's bread and butter, as they say (never fully understood that expression, but we digress). Nobody ever wants to stand there in the pocket and take turns exchanging blows. Diaz was known at the time as primarily a Jiu-Jitsu fighter, but figured he'd take his chances trading shots with Lawler. Nobody in their right mind thought this would be a good idea, yet Diaz managed to knock Lawler out cold in the second round: A feat that nobody has managed to accomplish since then.
5 Paul Daley (Nick Diaz)
Paul Daley and Nick Diaz squared off at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley in 2011. Many members of the media and fans thought that there would be an immense amount of trash talk going into this one, as they both weren't afraid to speak their mind, yet they kept it pretty quiet. Although, Daley did imply that Diaz' striking was nowhere near efficient as his own and that it would be a long night if he chose to keep the fight on the feet. Side note: At one point Diaz felt that Ariel Helwani was trying to manufacture a conflict between the two of them and indicated that Helwani would promptly be slapped if it persisted, and that was the end of that.
This fight lasted one round and it was one of the craziest rounds in MMA history. Diaz looked like he was left for dead at one point and Daley took the foot off the pedal. This turned out to be a huge mistake as Diaz managed to rally and TKO Daley with only three seconds remaining in the round.
4 Michael Johnson (Nate Diaz)
Michael Johnson had quietly amassed some hype over two years. He had won four out of five fights and his loss didn't really count, because we're at the point where horrendous decisions by the judges are simply ignored. Johnson and Diaz got scheduled to fight this past December at UFC on Fox: Dos Anjos vs. Cerrone 2. Diaz was labeled as the underdog by the odds makers and there was kind of a sense that Diaz was fed up and planning his exit strategy from the sport, while Johnson was hungry and eyeing a title shot in the future. On top of everything, this also wasn't a great matchup for Diaz, stylistically. To everyone's surprise (including Johnson's), Diaz showed up to The Octagon in the best shape of his life, stuffed Johnson's takedown attempts, and put on a boxing clinic en route to a unanimous decision win.
3 Frank Shamrock (Nick Diaz)
Frank Shamrock was billed as the main attraction for Strikeforce but was not on top of his game when he was set to face Nick Diaz in 2009 (although Shamrock got paid five times more than what Diaz made). Shamrock fully admitted that this would probably be his last fight, as his body was extremely banged up from years of fighting. It was to the point where he even admitted on the show Off The Record, that he had barely weight-trained and had done very little sparring due to injuries and family commitments. But he figured that with his experience, and natural skillset, that he'd have enough left in the tank to still beat Diaz. He unquestionably underestimated Diaz' skills as he got walloped for two rounds and lost the fight via TKO at the 3:57 mark.
2 B.J. Penn (Nick Diaz)
B.J. Penn has retired and "comeback" way too many times, he's becoming like the Brett Favre of MMA. Regardless, at one time Penn was regarded as one of the top pound for pound fighters in the sport. Only two fighters have managed to win world titles at two weight classes, with Penn being one of them. Nick Diaz and Penn locked horns at UFC 137, in 2011. Once again, the odds makers had Diaz as the underdog, even though the fight was at Welterweight. This was around the time where UFC went mainstream, but fans had forgotten how good Diaz was because he had been absent from the UFC (fighting in other promotions) for five years.
Penn even won the first round, quite easily. But Diaz hit that "crazy switch" and took control for the rest of the way, absolutely battering Penn's face, ultimately winning a unanimous decision.
1 Conor McGregor (Nate Diaz)
Nate Diaz was so ridiculously underestimated this past weekend, that the UFC brass were already openly planning Conor McGregor's next fight at Welterweight, between he and current champ, Robbie Lawler. As we mentioned above, McGregor and the UFC brass even collaborated as to who would be the best possible opponent to take this fight on short notice.
Diaz was fully a pawn in the UFC's plans to further elevate their cash cow. McGregor was quoted as saying: "I've hunted him down, I've stalked him like my prey and now I have him. And now Saturday night I will eat his carcass in front of his gazelle friends." For the first two rounds, it seemed as though Mystic Mac was going to come through with another prediction, but with his face full of blood, Diaz rallied a comeback that will surely go down as upset of the year (even though the year's only two month's old).
Let's also not get it twisted, this is not a shot at McGregor, as he gained much respect in defeat. This is the second time that his opponent got switched on him with under two weeks notice and he always accepts the challenge. He could have easily took the low road and bowed out like Jon Jones and Fabricio Werdum, due to the lack of time to prepare for a new opponent. He's also never pulled out of a fight and his warrior spirit is admirable.
Having said that, there's no denying that Diaz was underestimated by just about everyone, including yours truly.
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