Khamzat Chimaev (-1000) vs Nate Diaz (+700)
Chimaev: DK: $9.6k | Diaz: DK:$6.6k
So here we are. At a place I never thought we’d be. A point of no return. The matchup I never thought I’d be writing about. Anyone one, anywhere. That’s what they all say, but few are true to their word. Nate Diaz is a man of his word.
His last few matchups have almost felt like punishments. They’ve all been complete mismatches against fighters at the top of one of the historically best divisions, which happens to be a weight class up from his natural one hundred fifty-five pounds. And had he not stopped to gloat after rocking Leon “Rocky” Edwards in the final minute of the fifth round, it could have been Diaz fighting Usman three weeks ago. Against Jorge Masvidal, Nate refused to go down and looked to be the fresher fighter heading into the championship rounds before the fight was stopped due to a cut.
You can beat Nate Diaz, but you can’t BEAT Nate Diaz. All of Nate’s losses identify as wins. He’s the true people’s champ who shows up and scraps no matter how badly the odds are stacked against him. But this fight might be the tallest task of all that Nate has faced in his twenty-five-fight UFC career.
Chimaev is like a one hundred seventy pound chunk of kryptonite to Nate Diaz. Even though Nate is a submission Bob Ross with eleven submission wins on his record, he has struggled against strong wrestlers with heavy ground and pound like Rafael Dos Anjos. And on the feet, Nate’s hand speed has diminished over the years. So does Nate have ANY chance?
Not really. It took me ten minutes to type that two-word sentence. But let’s keep it positive. Nate is still dangerous on the mat and on the feet, and he never had the fastest hands; what makes him dangerous is his ability to land at the end of his punches. Case in point: the Leon Edwards fight. Nate has always lacked power but often has fighters rolling around the Octagon on a pair of Heelys because he connects when fighters think they’re safely out of range. He has an uncanny ability to catch people with the snap at the end of his punches, giving them a little extra sting. So, I guess there’s always the chance he could catch Chimaev late, if Chimaev gasses from a grinding scrap. A lot like Leon did late in that fifth round.
But if Chimaev is smart and doesn’t fight with his ego, this fight will look a lot like the Li Jingliang fight, when Chimaev picked up Jingliang, carried him across the ring, slammed him, and choked him out. Nate has a sneaky guard and slick triangle setups, but Chimaev is too strong a grappler. And Chimaev has heavy ground and pound that makes it hard to look for subs when you’re busy trying not to get your face pulverized with elbows and hammerfists.
For Nate, the game plan should be to throw Hail Mary’s on every down. Be that guy. Every moment the fight is standing, Nate has to be attacking with long, lanky combinations and pressuring Chimaev to make a mistake. When Nate ends up on his back, he has to attack with strikes and risk bad positions hunting for subs. If this is Nate’s last dance, let’s fookin’ boogie!
Let’s clear one thing up about Khamzat Chimaev: Gilbert Burns didn’t expose him. Chimaev made a Homer Simpson jumping the gorge leap up in competition, fighting the number two guy in the division. And we found out that Chimaev has that dog in him. That was the exact question we asked about him. Was he a front-runner or a killer? You don’t want the first time you’re tested to be in a championship fight with all your hopes and dreams sitting in a heap in the center of the table. You want those questions answered before you reach the pinnacle of the sport.
That’s all I can say about Chimaev; he’s the real deal and could be the champion sometime next year. The only question about this one is how it ends. COT DAMN!! I just looked at the odds for the first time. Chimaev is the disrespectful (-1100) favorite, and Diaz is the (+675) mangy dog.
Last week, Ciryl Gane ended the main event-losing streak before it could get started. If you missed that banger, you missed a classic heavyweight slugfest. Some of these main event picks have hurt my soul lately. Khamzat Chimaev via rear-naked choke, round three.
Winner: Khamzat Chimaev | Method: Rear-Naked Choke Rd.3