Nate Diaz (20-11) is slated to headline Madison Square Garden in one of the most anticipated fights of the year at UFC 244 on November 2. It’ll be there he faces fellow “gangster” Jorge Masvidal (34-13). Diaz specifically called out Masvidal due to his penchant for keeping it real but also because Masvidal is coming off of back-to-back knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren.
People can try to deride Diaz for his record, words, or actions but the man now knows his worth and knew a fight with Masvidal would equal not only a fun affair but also a massive payday. Though the UFC feels the need to make a bogus title for the event, that was never needed. Fans know when they have a fight that’s an absolute banger on their hands and get excited accordingly.
And that’s what Nate Diaz has always done — excite. Win or lose, the Stockton, California native is full of amusing antics both in and outside of the Octagon. So, ahead of UFC 244, let’s take look back at some of the West Coast G’s most gangster moments.
Two birds, one choke
Kurt Pellegrino was exactly the type of fighter who should’ve given Diaz problems. Most of Diaz’s losses have come against fighters who were competent wrestlers that could avoid submission attempts. Pellegrino was a two-time wrestling state finalist turned jiu-jitsu black belt.
For a round and a half, Pellegrino did exactly what people thought he would do. He used his wrestling to stay on top of Diaz and ground and pound. “Batman” flowed with Diaz’s attempts to get out of bad positions and kept putting the recent Ultimate Fighter season 5 winner into trouble.
Pellegrino then went for a slam in the second round and found himself tangled in Diaz’s legs. Not only did Diaz have the triangle choke locked on but he also found some time to flex and flip a pair of middle fingers to the sky while his opponent was tapping.
The man in the black hat
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is known for his willingness to fight any man at any time. He’s known as a surefire filler when a fight falls through. He’s also known as one of the baddest dudes in the game and owns victories over high-profile names.
Diaz is known for not giving a f*ck.
When the pair met at UFC 141, fireworks were expected. Diaz had talked a lot of trash at the presser and seemingly gotten Cerrone even more fired up during the face-off when he slapped the Cowboy hat off his head in the ultimate sign of disrespect.
The bad blood flowed into the cage when Cerrone opted to flip Diaz the middle finger instead of touching gloves. The combatants went at each other from the opening bell with Cerrone fighting a much less calculated fight than he is known for. “Cowboy” went to brawl and found himself in a whirlwind of fists. He had played right into the kind of fight that Diaz not only loves but also excels at.
After three rounds, the stats told the tale. Diaz had landed 238 blows to Cerrone’s 98. Though he had some success with leg kicks, “Cowboy” was outgunned for most of the fifteen minutes.
I’m not surprised, mother fu…
Before Conor McGregor smacked Eddie Alvarez around the cage en route to becoming champ-champ, he was originally supposed to face Rafael Dos Anjos for the opportunity. Dos Anjos, unfortunately, broke his foot just a couple of weeks out and the Irishman was left without an opponent for UFC 196.
Enter Stockton’s finest.
When Diaz got the call to face the surging McGregor, he wasn’t in a training camp. Hell, he wasn’t even in the country. He was on a boat, pounding tequila shots with the Scrap Pack.
McGregor, being the absolute mad lad that he is, agreed to take the fight against Diaz at welterweight. The odds highly favored “The Notorious” who was quickly becoming the biggest star the sport had ever known while Diaz was 2-3 in his last five.
The first round was all McGregor who landed huge blows and busted up the Californian. Diaz was looking much worse for wear but Nate Diaz is the type of guy that you have to kill to stop from coming at you.
McGregor had tired himself looking for the first-round KO and Diaz was just getting going. After eating some hard shots, McGregor uncharacteristically shot for a takedown and was wrapped up by the Ceasar Gracie black belt and promptly submitted.
Diaz’s post-fight interview then spawned a meme that would live forever in the MMA world. Just like that, a star was born.
After quite some time away from the sport, Diaz returned over the summer at UFC 241. There he met Anthony “Showtime” Pettis in the co-main event of a card stacked with talent. The fight was as fun as we had expected it to be with Diaz earning a unanimous decision. And while going fifteen minutes with a banger like Pettis is pretty gangster in its own right, it was more the aura around the fight itself that had fans amped up.
Diaz had proven that after three years off, he was not only as good as ever but better. The ring rust many expect wasn’t there and Diaz even showed off some new techniques. The post-fight callout of Jorge Masvidal was absolutely perfect and had us all immediately pining for it to come to fruition. Social media was buzzing about the 209.
Nate Diaz had shown that he can come in and out of our lives at his leisure and we’ll still always welcome him back with open arms and fingers twisted up into Ws.
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Brandon is a long-time combat sports fan who has covered fights since 2017. His work can be found at The Scrap News and The Body Lock. Follow Brandon on Twitter (@B_S_Sibcy).