#2 vs. Donald Cerrone – UFC 141 – 12/30/2011
After an ill-advised move to 170lbs in 2010 ended with a pair of one-sided losses to Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald, Diaz returned to his more natural 155lbs in late 2011 to face off with Takanori Gomi at UFC 135. The move back to Lightweight worked in dramatic fashion, and Diaz looked better than ever as he hurt the Japanese legend standing before easily submitting him with an armbar.
Just three months later, Diaz was back in action against a red-hot Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, who had got his UFC career off to a flying start with four straight wins. And in classic Diaz fashion, he instantly made the fight into a very personal affair.
When Cowboy attempted to shake his hand during a pre-fight staredown, Diaz knocked his Stetson off before showing him the double bird. By the time UFC 141 rolled around, it was clear that Diaz was under Cerrone’s skin – and Cowboy showed it by uncharacteristically flipping Diaz off pre-fight.
As it turned out, the fact that Cerrone was so fired up simply played into Diaz’s hands. Cowboy came out far too aggressively and had his bell rung early on by the quicker, more volume-based counterpunching of Diaz. In perhaps the greatest example of the infamous ‘Stockton Slap’ style of boxing, Diaz simply destroyed Cerrone in the first round with a series of crisp combinations that left him with a broken jaw and practically out of the fight.
Cowboy’s tremendous heart allowed him to hang on until the final bell, even dropping Diaz a couple of times with low kicks, but the reality was that the fight was all Nate’s. If the Gomi win had been impressive, this was simply on another level. After a sticky patch in his career that saw him lose three of six fights, this was a massive indication that Diaz was back, and better than ever.Published 07 Aug 2018, 00:24 IST