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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Will Nate Diaz be Back in 2018?

February 14, 2018 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
Nate Diaz

Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and it is my pleasure to bring you another round of, Fact or Fiction MMA. By the way, thank you, for your votes and comments the last time around. In the last edition, Robert Winfree and Dan Plunkett locked horns over Michael Bisping’s retirement fight, Stipe Miocic fighting Daniel Cormier, and Paul Daley returning to the UFC. Robert and Dan stormed right out of the gate in what turned out to be a close and competitive battle. When the dust settled, Robert was left standing with his arms raised. Congratulations, Robert, and thank you both for your efforts and contributions.

This week, Dino Zee returns to shake-off his first loss by challenging the gritty, Alex Rella. This should a great contest as both men lock horns over Curtis Blaydes’ next options, the UFC’s finest eye gouge to date, Nate Diaz returning this summer, and much more! So grab some grub and strap in because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA!

TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER
Dino “Salad Bar” Zee
Contributor, 411 Wrestling Zone
12-1-1

VS

BLUE CORNER
Alex “Little Mac” Rella
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
6-8-1


Right now, is the perfect time to book the rematch between Francis Ngannou Curtis Blaydes.

Dino Zee: FICTION I rarely like the idea of cannibalizing contenders, and this would seem to be the worst type of it – coming off a loss to the champ, we’d try to get Ngannou back on track by having him derail Blaydes? I’d rather see Ngannou get someone a bit lower on the pecking order, while Blaydes continues on his path against other top contenders. And yes, I get that my answer could be construed as trying to keep Blaydes away from a top guy, but they’ve already fought, and Ngannou definitely earned his victory in that fight. If they’re going to rematch, I’d rather it’s when both are either coming off losses or wins, but not when one is heading up while the other looks to regain his footing.

It would seem there’s plenty of time to do the rematch; now isn’t it, though.

Alex Rella: FACT Sure, it makes sense. Stipe is all booked up with Daniel Cormier and the next number one contender will likely come from the Werdum-Volkov fight. Ngannou needs to get back on track after being dominated by the champ and Blaydes just picked up the biggest win of his career against Mark Hunt. Plus both fighters have improved drastically since their first fight in 2016. I see nothing wrong with throwing them up against each other again. The winner will likely be near title contention in the very thin division.


The UFC’s brass and matchmakers should be ashamed as Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya is just as much a mismatch as Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira.

Dino Zee: FICTION I hate being unable to scream about how unfair the UFC is, but in this case, I’m willing to let them off the hook. First off, I don’t feel that the mismatch gap is nearly as bad between Kunitskaya and Cyborg as it was between Shevchenko and Cachoeira. Sure, the size difference is there, but is the skill difference as big?

Secondly, and way, way more importantly here, this fight was clearly a last-effort to save a pay per view card, and if Kunitskaya was the only one willing to take a fight against Cyborg on short notice, then so be it. I’m not going to fault the UFC brass or matchmakers for making the only fight that could be made in a tight spot.

Alex Rella: FICTION I’m going to defend both fights being made. We all know Valentina Shevchenko vs Priscila Cachoeira was a vicious beatdown that made many of us feel uncomfortable to watch, but I understand what they were thinking when they booked it. Cachoeira was undefeated at that point and Shevchenko was making her MMA debut at flyweight, plus the division is still fairly shallow. It turned out to be a horrible mismatch, but I don’t blame the matchmakers. I also don’t think Cyborg vs Kunitskaya is anything to be ashamed of. I do think Megan Anderson or Cindy Danbois would be better matchups, but they don’t have a lot of options to go with. Plus Yana Kunitskaya is a pretty good fighter. I don’t expect her to win, but it could be a fun fight. Kunitskaya has also had previous fights at featherweight. So she isn’t some random bantamweight moving up to fight Cyborg, which the UFC has done in the past. Women’s featherweight is probably the thinnest division in all of MMA and it doesn’t help that Bellator got an early start making their own division. There were a couple better fights to make, but not many.


Li Jingliang should be ousted from the UFC for blatantly eye gouging Jake Matthews.

Dino Zee: FICTION I’m really on the fence here, because that was some blatant eye-gougery that took place on Saturday night. However, after hearing Matthews’ take on the matter, my horror softened a bit. As he put it during his post-fight interview, “you’ll do anything you can to survive.” And, sure, I know that we as fans like to get all high and mighty about how these are professionals, martial artists who should always show respect and all that jazz, and honestly, that line of thought is fair. At the same time, I’m sure it’s a bit tough to remember all of that when some dude is squeezing the life out of you, and you go into survival mode.

I’d put Jingliang on the shortest of leashes and let him know that if he does anything even close to that kind of nonsense again, he’s definitely in Paul Daley territory. One (huge) mistake in a tough spot, though? Eh, let’s give the guy another chance.

Alex Rella: FICTION There should be some form of punishment, but I don’t think he should be cut from the UFC. The referee should have deducted a point or disqualified him. The UFC should fine him, taken away his Fight of the Night bonus, or even suspend him for a couple months. Just something to make a point that it was flagrant and should not be tolerated. I don’t think he should be cut, though. I don’t remember Jingliang doing anything dirty like this before, so hopefully, it was a one-time thing. Maybe he got rocked and wasn’t thinking straight. This isn’t a Rousimar Palhares situation where he has a detailed history of being a dirty fighter. Punish him somehow and then cut him if he ever does it again.


SWITCH!

If Nate Diaz does return in 2018, it will either be for a fight with Conor McGregor or for a welterweight title fight against Tyron Woodley.

Alex Rella: FACT I don’t agree with it, but I have to go with fact. IF Nate Diaz returns this year, I believe it would only be for a fight with McGregor or a title fight at lightweight or welterweight. Diaz is only interested in a huge money drawing money fight if he were to ever return. The lightweight division has been in a weird place since during McGregor’s hiatus and if Diaz was genuinely interested in fighting anyone else or climbing the rankings the old fashioned way, he would have been back by now. I also believe the UFC would make this happen. McGregor, Diaz, and the UFC all make the most money by booking their trilogy fight. Their previous two fights had the highest pay-per-view buys of all time and I believe a third fight would do even higher. I’m still torn on if Diaz will ever actually return, but if he does, it’ll only be against McGregor or a title fight like one against Woodley.

Dino Zee: FACT I’m not in love with my answer, but I do believe it’s the right one. I’m terrified that the Woodley fight will happen, but I think that the more logical route, despite what my fanboy heart wants, is that Conor will go for the third Nate fight if/when Khabib beats Ferguson. I’m rooting Tony in that scrap, but should he lose, I think Conor does all he can to continue to avoid Khabib, which allows him to take that third fight with Nate.

But there’s no underestimating Woodley’s (undeserved) desire for a money fight, and he might just throw a big enough tantrum after fighting the #1 Contender three times as champion (while guys like Bisping most certainly did not) that he’ll get what he wants. But yeah, I could see one of these fights being Nate’s return.


Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega is more intriguing than Frankie Edgar vs. Max Holloway, even though the Holloway fight was for the title.

Alex Rella: FICTION Not at all. They’ll have an exciting fight and Ortega has quickly emerged as one of the most dangerous featherweights around, but it’s not more intriguing than Edgar vs Holloway. Edgar is a former champ, has only lost to Jose Aldo since 2013, and is truly one of the greatest fighters of all time. Holloway is on an epic 12 fight winning streak with recent dominant wins over Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis. I was genuinely excited to see if Edgar could use his wrestling and straight up resilience to really challenge the champion. No offense to Ortega, but he just isn’t on their level yet. Ortega vs Edgar will be good, but we could have seen a living legend challenge one of the most exciting champions around today.

Dino Zee: FICTION No, I just can’t agree here, and I’m a big fan of “T-City.” But Holloway’s rise was always asterisked by some since he never had to fight Edgar, and to me, that’s the biggest proving point Holloway has left, if he has anything left to prove at 145. Edgar/Ortega looks to be another fantastic fight on paper, but I wouldn’t call it as intriguing as the fight where Holloway can more or less wipe out the old guard with this win and open the division up for the new lions. Both great fights, one slightly more intriguing, in my opinion.


The UFC needs to capitalize on Tai Tuivasa’s personality by booking him outside of Australia and giving him a top fifteen heavyweight, so he can establish himself as a top-tier heavyweight.

Alex Rella: FACT I’m a little in the middle on this one, but I’ll explain. He definitely deserves an opponent in the top 15 and book that fight wherever for the sake of timing. But I don’t think you should purposely avoid booking him again in Australia for the hopes of getting him more exposure. People will watch him fight on TV wherever the fight is happening geographically. If he becomes a popular fighter, it’ll happen naturally no matter what. I personally also think it’s pretty cool when UFC shows are stacked with local fighters and those in attendance like cheering for their hometown fighters too. So book him against a top 15 fighter, but don’t avoid making the fight in Australia for the sake of exposure. It’s a wasted opportunity for the home crowd, the UFC goes to Australia a couple times a year, and most UFC fans will get to see his personality while watching him in their homes anyway.

Dino Zee: FACT Yes, yes, yes. This dude has charisma for days, fights in a crowd-pleasing fashion, and, above all, is an ENTERTAINING YOUNG HEAVYWEIGHT. That can’t be stressed enough. I’m not necessarily saying that we give him the Ngannou Hype and fast-track him to a title shot, but someone in the Top 15 would be the best move for his next fight. Someone like Tim Johnson would present a tough – but beatable – opponent for Tuivasa, and the grinding style Johnson brings could present a bit of a challenge. Let’s see what this kid has!


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And that’s it for today but, as always, we’ll be back next week with another contest! And please, be sure to vote!

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