Two Roads Diverge: Gray Maynard/Nate Diaz

| November 26, 2013 | 10:11 am | Reply

Nate Diaz UFC on FOX 7As much as they would hate to admit it, Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz may have been destined to fight each other one last time. Their career paths, while diverging slightly in the middle, have followed a rather parallel trajectory. It seems only fitting that they meet once again to determine the next stage of their careers.

Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz both began their UFC careers starting out on The Ultimate Fighter season 5. Diaz submitted Maynard in the semifinals and went on to win the season. This first exhibition fight is what allows the UFC to bill Saturday’s contest as Maynard/Diaz III. After the season, Diaz became known as one of the UFC’s most exciting fighters, winning 7 fight night bonuses prior to his second bout with Maynard. He never quite gained contender status but he was a bankable commodity.

After The Ultimate Fighter, and the infamous no contest with Rob Emerson at the finale, Maynard put together a solid winning streak. Knocking off veterans such as Frankie Edgar, Roger Huerta and Jim Miller, Maynard was suddenly in title contention. But at the time, he needed one more signature win. Enter Nate Diaz. It was thought that defeating an exciting veteran like Diaz would have likely propelled Maynard into a title shot. However, the trash talk leading up to the bout turned out to be more exciting than the bout itself. Because of the nature of the split decision win, UFC brass was hesitant to grant Maynard the title shot, instead choosing to match Frankie Edgar up against then champion BJ Penn. Maynard would eventually get his shot at gold though after a dominant performance over Kenny Florian.

In his next two bouts against Edgar, two of the most memorable fights in UFC history, Gray Maynard would come up short. A draw at UFC 125 and a stoppage loss at UFC 136 would force Maynard back in line. A lackluster decision win over Clay Guida and another stoppage loss to TJ Grant leave Gray Maynard in no man’s land. At age 34, with 1 win in his last 4 fights; “The Bully” is fighting to stay relevant.

After the second bout the Maynard, Diaz would go on to have an unremarkable 2-2 stint in the welterweight division. Upon returning to the lightweight ranks, he rattled off three impressive victories over Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller that ultimately earned him a title shot. A loss to then champion Ben Henderson and a subsequent highlight knock loss to Josh Thomson leaves Diaz reeling as well.

And here we are again. The first fight was to get into the UFC. The second fight was to move towards title contention, the peak of the UFC. The third and likely final fight is to remain relevant, and quite possibly stay employed with the UFC. Somehow, out of all the trajectories in the UFC’s lightweight division, these two always seem to find each other, serving as a barometer in each phase of their career.

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Category: Featured, MMA, UFC, Ultimate Fighter

Tyler Keane (Staff Writer)

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I reside in Boston MA and am pursuing my dream of writing about MMA. I am very passionate about the sport and helping to continue its growth. Follow me on Twitter @TyGuyMMA

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