UFC on Fuel 3: Nate Diaz v. Jim Miller
On Saturday, May 5, The IZOD Centre in East Rutherford, NJ, will host Nate Diaz (15-7) as he takes on Jim Miller (21-3) in a UFC lightweight bout. Diaz brings stellar boxing into the Octagon, while Miller is a high-level wrestler. Both have black belts in BJJ. Miller can bang, but few fighters can box with either Nick or Nate Diaz.
In spite of Nick mentoring his younger sibling, Nate is the more mature of the brothers. Nick Diaz has all kinds of problems holding to his obligations with the UFC, and is currently suing the Nevada State Athletic Commission over their handling of allegations of marijuana usage. Nick also likes to torment and taunt opponents in the ring---he considers it a real fight, whereas most UFC fighters, Nate incliuded, consider it a competition.
Nate Diaz had four fights in 2011. He lost the first two decisions to Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald. Diaz won the last two fights that year, finishing Takanori Gomi and winning an impressive decision over Donald Cerrone. Suffice it to say Diaz needs consistency and a win streak, but is working his way to a shot at the lightweight belt.
Jim Miller, on the other hand, had a seven fight win streak till he met current champion Benson Henderson in August of last year. In his last fight, Miller choked out Melvin Guillard, a man many fans and pundits thought could get and hold the belt for some time, considering his brutal pace and supposed new mindset: neither the title nor the new mindset were to be.
Diaz brings heart, Miller brings guts. Or maybe it’s vice versa. The outcome of this fight depends not so much on Miller---a man of consistency---but on Diaz. Which Diaz enters the Octagon on Saturday night? My dinero is on Miller winning a tight unanimous decision. The winner will be knocking at the door for the title in arguably the most stacked division in the UFC.
Co-headlining is Josh 'Kos' Koscheck (19-5) v. Johny 'Bigg Rigg' Hendricks (12-1). Koscheck has been top five in the welterweight division for a couple of years now. Back in 2010 he lost a one-sided title fight to Georges St. Pierre and had his orbital bone broken on one of the first jabs St. Pierre threw. In 2009, Koscheck was knocked out by Brazilian Paulo Thiago.
Koscheck is a stellar former division 1 NCAA wrestler who has trained for years with The American Kickboxing Academy. His striking is very dangerous, unless he’s fighting a man with highly technical strikes and movement.
In his last fight, Hendricks needed only 12 seconds to knock out Jon Fitch, a fighter who has only lost twice since 2003---GSP could not finish him. Hendricks’s only loss was a decision to Rick Story, a fight in which Hendricks was outworked. Hendricks is very fast, powerful, dynamic, and he can wrestle with Koscheck. He’s not the technical striker that can cause Kos fits, but he has dynamite in his fists. If Koscheck stands and trades, he’ll lose teeth.
The personae Koscheck chose to promote his fights is the ‘bad guy’. Regardless of the act, he’s a polarizing figure you love or hate. On his stint as a coach against GSP on The Ultimate Fighter, Koscheck showed an awkward, petty side that had little to do with editing.
We know a lot less about Hendricks. A loss for Hendricks would be a mere speed bump. A loss for Koscheck will cause him to slide down the top ten list. Look for Hendricks to replace Koscheck as a top five frontrunner, via KO by the end of the second round.
Brutal technical striker Alan Belcher (17-6) is fighting a leg-lock ground specialist from Brazil, Rousimar Palhares (14-3), in a 185 matchup. In spite of sporting a warbled, hideous tattoo of Johnny Cash on his arm, Belcher wears the best fight shorts in the game, a shout out to Muay Thai and boxing shorts of old. Make sure you’ve got your sunglasses handy.
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