#4 Nick Diaz – Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale – November 5th, 2005
When the first batch of Ultimate Fighter graduates made their way onto the UFC roster in 2005, some of the promotion’s more tenured fighters were unsure what to make of them – feeling they’d taken a shortcut to stardom. One of those tenured fighters was a young Nick Diaz, who had 5 Octagon appearances under his belt and felt that Sanchez – the original TUF winner – was stealing his spotlight.
After some back-and-forth trash talk, a fight between the two was signed, and during the build to it, the bad blood threatened to boil over on numerous occasions – with Diaz even launching a shoe at his opponent backstage prior to the bout. With the two fighters finally caged, the fans were treated to an all-time great staredown between the two, and then the action began.
Over the course of 15 minutes, Sanchez and Diaz put on an absolute clinic; although both men, Diaz in particular, would become known for their penchant for striking in their later careers, this was almost purely a grappling match, with some incredible scrambles, positional exchanges and submission attempts throughout.
The difference, in the end, was Sanchez’s ability to achieve top position and keep Diaz grounded, where he could unleash his then-famed ground-and-pound, just as he’d promised during the pre-fight promos. In the end, despite suffering a deep cut over his eye, ‘The Nightmare’ was awarded the biggest win of his career at the time – with Diaz being fed a large slice of humble pie.
Neither man could be considered a loser coming out of such a high-quality fight, though; the war between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar was understandably crowned the Fight of the Year for 2005, but 15 years later there’s definitely an argument to be made that this clash is superior in hindsight.