Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz will meet at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale, in a rematch of their UFC Fight Night bout in 2010 and it is technically a rubber match if you consider Diaz choking out Maynard on TUF.
The two Lightweights met on the fifth season of the MMA reality show, with Diaz emerging the victor after tapping ‘The Bully’ with a tight guillotine choke in the second round of their semi final scrap. It was a very different story the next time they met.
Maynard was a different fighter in the rematch and though Diaz was no pushover; Maynard was surging at 10-0 as a pro (non exhibition of course) and claimed a split decision win. The rubber match comes following a considerable slide in both fighter’s careers.
Diaz is coming off of two straight losses, a situation he has fought back from twice before while in the UFC, but the UFC doesn’t take kindly to fighters that talk a lot of trash and haven’t won in a while (apart from this guy of course).
He lost his title challenge against Benson Henderson back in December of 2012, and was TKO’d in spectacular fashion by Josh Thomson at UFC on Fox Melendez vs. Henderson this past April. At 28 and holding a 16-9 record, it isn’t quite over for Diaz but he needs a win badly.
Maynard has been barely active in the past year due to injury and personal issues, having lost to Frankie Edgar by crushing KO in their rubber match at UFC 136; Maynard once again returned a different fighter. He was frustrated by Clay Guida at UFC on FX in 2012, claiming a split decision win but seeming out of sorts.
On to UFC 160 and Maynard was looking to get back in to title contention as he faced TJ Grant. Things really couldn’t have gone worse for Maynard, he was bested with apparent ease by Grant and knocked clean out in one round. Maynard suffered his first two losses as a pro, both by knockout and was dropped out of title contention in the blink of an eye.
As TUF 18 approaches the heat is certainly on both guys, especially Diaz considering it would be his third err on the bounce. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Maynard cut should he flop against Diaz, although it would seem a little harsh considering his current 9-2-1(1nc) contest within the organization.
Will ‘The Bully’ find his form or will Diaz break Maynard down like he did Donald Cerrone and many others?