Three years off didn’t make a difference for Nate Diaz, as he looked like his old self against Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of UFC 241.
UFC 241’s co-main event is one of the most hyped fights of the summer. A former lightweight champion taking on one of the biggest stars in the sport following a three-year layoff. Nate Diaz became a star off his 2016 rivalry with Conor McGregor, a year that saw him go from fan-favorite to superstar. He traded a win and a loss with the Irish champion at UFC 196, and UFC 202 respectively. However Diaz hasn’t been in the Octagon since his loss to McGregor in 2016.
Anthony Pettis is one of the sport’s most exciting fighters. Pettis is a former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, capturing the UFC lightweight title in 2013 in a rematch with Benson Henderson. From there he would defend it against Gilbert Melendez, prior to losing it to Rafael Dos Anjos in 2015. Since that loss, he’s had his highs and lows, including a failed stint at featherweight. However, he did move to welterweight earlier this year, where he debuted with a knockout win over former title challenger Stephen Thompson.
The first round started with Pettis targeting the legs and body early. Pettis threw heavy early as he landed a couple of clean right hands. Diaz got the clinch, but Pettis escaped and landed a thunderous right hook to the body on the break. Pettis landed some more leg kicks while Diaz looked for the takedown. Diaz got the takedown as Pettis looked for the guillotine, he lost the choke and Diaz ended up on top. Pettis gave up his back and Diaz looked for the rear-naked choke, Pettis slipped out, but Diaz had his back until the round ended. Very back-and-forth first frame.
Pettis went with a failed low-kick that saw him slip to the mat at the beginning of the round. Diaz tried to walk him down, but he was having trouble seeing. The doctor briefly got called in but Diaz said he was fine. So the two continued to trade, Diaz got the takedown and side control, but Pettis fought back and made his way back to his feet in the clinch. Pettis seemed to be fading while Diaz was coming on. Diaz landed big combinations against the fence, and while Pettis still threw strikes, they were mostly one at a time. Pettis landed a giant elbow near the end of the round to open a big cut on Diaz but going into round three, it was all Diaz.
Diaz pushed the pressure to start round three. He landed some giant knees against the fence that dropped Pettis! Diaz got the back and started looking for the choke, but Pettis reversed to end up in Diaz’s guard. Pettis threw some decent shots from the top, then Diaz rolled to his back and Pettis tried to hop on top, but Diaz slipped out the backdoor. Diaz started landing shots on top and has Pettis’s back. Looking for the choke, Diaz couldn’t get it and Pettis rolled on top to finish the fight. Wow.
— UFC (@ufc) August 18, 2019
Nate Diaz took three years off following his loss to Conor McGregor. He returned tonight to dominate Anthony Pettis in one of the finest performances of his career. Amazing fight, and better performance by Stockton’s own. He got on the mic to call out Jorge Masvidal in his post-fight interview. A fight that would certainly be one of the biggest of the year.
— UFC (@ufc) August 18, 2019
Nate Diaz def. Anthony Pettis by Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)