UFC 135: The Face-Off

Nate Diaz

Our writers go head-to-head on Diaz vs. Gomi

There are many legitimate reasons why Nate Diaz will be fired up to face Takanori Gomi on Saturday night at UFC 135:

– He’s a professional fighter and every fighter wants to win, always.
– He’s lost back-to-back bouts and wants to avoid the dreaded three fight losing streak.
– He was 1-3 in his last four fights at lightweight and wants to get back in the win column.
– He’s a Diaz and they’re always excited to fight. Press conferences, not so much.

One reason that certainly won’t be going through his mind is helping Heavy MMA features writer Duane Finley extend his winning streak to three over E. Spencer Kyte, but that’s exactly what will happen if he gets his hand raised.

Our writers are ready to go toe-to-toe once again, putting their analytical skills to the test in the latest installment of The Face-Off.

The Case for Takanori Gomi (Kyte 1-2)

I’m man enough to admit I was dead wrong about Alan Belcher. He came out of the gate on fire and ran through Jason MacDonald on Saturday night. Congratulations to him, and to my adversary, Mr. Finley, for earning his second consecutive win and the first defense of the Face-Off title.

Best of luck in this one; onto the analysis.

Remember when everyone fell in love with Nate Diaz’s move to welterweight? That ended quickly, huh?

I’ll openly admit that this pick has as much to do with my opinion of Diaz as it does my belief in Gomi. I think people think too highly of Diaz because of his last name, his win on TUF, and the fact that he’s annoyingly entertaining in the same ways that his brother is.

None of those things make him a better fighter though, and the fact that he’s 1-3 in his last four at this weight, and riding a two-fight losing streak bears that out.

I also think that Gomi has the skill set to beat Diaz, even if he’s not the Takanori Gomi from 2005. He still has very good hands, legit power, and enough wrestling to pressure Diaz and frustrate him the way Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson did.

While I’m scared that Gomi will follow the same “throw heavy and tire myself out” approach we’ve seen from him in two of his three UFC fights, I do think he will recognize that this is a must win fight and there has been a solid blueprint laid out for beating the younger, lesser talented Diaz.

I’m banking on the fact that he follows said blueprint, though I’m acutely aware of the fact that I could be riding a three-fight losing streak real soon.

The Case for Nate Diaz (Finley 2-1)

Earning a title doesn’t mean all that much if you can’t defend it. Since I have managed to do so successfully, I have now found legitimacy in the Heavy MMA rankings, whatever that may mean. A third straight victory puts me in a position to launch into my Denzel Washington “King Kong” speech but looking at this match-up between Gomi and Diaz is a tricky one.

Diaz is coming off being rag-dolled by rising star Rory MacDonald, so a return to lightweight makes the most sense for him.

Nate is tall, lanky and a step slower than most of his opponents, and the welterweight division was simply too much for him. Dropping back down to this weight is the only viable option for him right now, and while most fighters pick up the intensity with their backs to the wall, the Diaz Brothers are a different breed of animal.

This fight with Gomi has nothing to do with contention or rankings; it’s just survival on the biggest stage in the sport.

Gomi is going to come out firing and throwing with his normal bad intentions, but Diaz’s length is going to be difficult to close in on. Marcus Davis and Gomi are different fighters in many ways, but both need to close the distance for their power to work. Diaz isn’t going to let that happen. He will use his reach and a few trademark Diaz antics to frustrate the former Pride champion, and once fatigue and aggravation set in, the momentum shifts in Diaz’s favor.

Eventually, Nate will get Gomi to the point where he wants to take him down, and when the fight hits the canvas, “The Fireball Kid” has basically put himself smack dab in the middle of the 209. Diaz wins this fight via submission, with some form of choke, and marks a successful return to the 155 pound division.

That’s how I see it and that’s how it is going to go.

I also want to include that in his post-fight speech Diaz will definitely say his brother was cheated out of a title shot, but we aren’t keeping track of bonus points in this back and forth.

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