The latest news to take the UFC world by storm is the shocking announcement of Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz. Reactions to the news have varied. On one hand, Chimaev could potentially be the next big thing in the UFC — on the other, Diaz is a walking legend who has changed the way fans view the sport.
Since Khamzat Chimaev was signed by the UFC, he has steamrolled his way to the No.3-spot in the welterweight rankings. However, there are MMA fans and fighters who believe that the Stockton gangster might be victorious, despite what oddsmakers have to say.
Let’s have a look at five reasons why Nate Diaz could cause a big upset against Khamzat Chimaev:
#5. The experience factor
The world of MMA is a place where even the best fighters enjoy a relatively short shelf-life. Stardom often gives way to the physical toll the sport takes on fighters, and the UFC is no exception. However, there are a rare few who have stood the test of time and weathered the years to develop a massive amount of experience.
Nate Diaz is a fighter who has amassed a great deal of experience in the octagon during his 15 years in the UFC. In mixed martial arts, experience can be just as much of a skill as any other — an experienced fighter knows how to stay calm when the situation is shaky.
UFC fighters such as Randy Couture are a great example of how wisdom within the octagon can be a reason for success. In Diaz's case, he has always been a fighter who rarely gets fazed, even in the toughest situations. It is this attitude that allows fighters to make the best decisions under pressure, so it could play a huge factor in helping Diaz secure a win.
#4. Nate Diaz’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Despite being known for his skilled stand-up game, Nate Diaz is also highly regarded as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner. This is probably why fans rarely come across instances of fighters taking Diaz down. On the other hand, Khamzat Chimaev is a fighter who predominantly trained as a wrestler and won gold at the Swedish Nationals three times.
Chimaev’s wrestling normally helps him a great deal — that is, until he encounters a fighter with a strong ground game. During his fight with Gilbert Burns, Chimaev more or less abandoned his wrestling and stuck to striking after trying to take down Burns with no success.
This is where Nate Diaz may have the upper hand, since he can capitalize on Chimaev’s wrestling approach as a trap to employ his Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If Chimaev does decide to take down Nate Diaz, he will be locked in a ground game with a fighter that holds 11 submission wins, one of which was former double-champ Conor McGregor.
#3. The endurance of a triathlete
If one were to glance through the MMA record of Khamzat Chimaev, they would likely spot the fact that 90% of his fights have finished in the first round. The remaining few finished in the second round, the only exception of which was his fight against Gilbert Burns, which ended in a decision victory for Chimaev.
In Nate Diaz's case, the majority of his fights have gone well past the first round. The Stockton product is a rare example of a fighter who uses his endless reserves of endurance to tire out his opponents. Diaz extensively competes in triathlons, which likely helps to develop his seemingly endless stamina.
If Chimaev cannot end their bout soon, he is in for a long and vicious five-round battle. Even though 'Borz' went the distance in his fight against Gilbert Burns at UFC 273, it was clear that he was extremely exhausted. Should the fight go into the fourth and fifth rounds, Chimaev will know that Diaz poses a significant threat.
#2. Intense standup game
No matter what background a fighter comes from, the ability to deliver blunt force trauma with a strong standup game is a vital skill. A fighter can be exceptional in grappling, wrestling, etc., but if they cannot dish out effective strikes in the standup game, they're bound to lose at some point.
One of the best examples of this is a UFC fighter like Francis Ngannou, who, despite lacking great grappling skills, has experienced success due to his outrageous standup skills.
Khamzat Chimaev is a fabulous wrestler and brilliant knockout artist who can also land some great submissions, but his standup skills have been largely untested, minus his fight with Gilbert Burns. In all fairness, he did do a good job and won that fight largely because of his performance on the feet.
However, Nate Diaz has spent over 15 years demonstrating the strength of his standup game. The UFC statistics show that Diaz lands 67% of significant strikes while standing, a significant bump over Khamzat’s 41%. When it comes down to standing and striking, Diaz poses a serious threat to Khamzat.
#1. The UFC’s original gangster
There is a reason why the Diaz Brothers have managed to cultivate a cult-like following for themselves amongst UFC fans — they are among the few fighters who can back up their words and deliver truly memorable fights.
Nate Diaz does not care who his opponent is. He treats them all equally and is willing to step in the cage against anyone, regardless of their weight class or record. The Stockton-born competitor does a great job of playing mind games with his opponents, who know they are stepping in with a fighter who has fought the greatest in the division.
He is quite possibly one of the greatest underdog fighters the UFC has ever known, given his victory over Conor McGregor in the Irishman's prime. Fans and fighters simply cannot discount Nate Diaz, because despite what the odds may look like, he knows how to prove everybody wrong.