Joe “Daddy” Stevenson returned to victorious form last night as he bested the always tough Nate Diaz at The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 Finale in Vegas. Through three rounds of domination, Stevenson showed himself to clearly be the stronger fighter. While strategy was abound out of each corner, there are several reasons as to why the bout unfolded as it did.
Diaz to evolve
Nate kicked off his career in the UFC with five impressive, consecutive wins against Gamburyan (to win TUF 5), Assuncao, Robinson, Pellegrino and Neer. Four of those bouts were finished off by way of submission and many had written off the fact that the lanky fighter’s lack of muscle mass could be a factor.
As Nate recently moved up in competition and has now lost back to back bouts against Guida and Stevenson, it is becoming increasingly clear that the younger Diaz brother’s strength must rise to the level of his renowned Gracie Jiu Jitsu game if he wishes to begin and carry on another win streak.
Stevenson as the dominant fighter
Joe made his fans proud last night as he not only relied on his bread and butter to topple his opponent, but also elevated his game by negating much of Diaz’s active guard. The sheer strength, conditioning and cerebral wrestling+Jiu Jitsu recipe “Daddy” served up and forced upon Nate silenced recent critics who doubted the 27 year-old’s dynamics.
What Nate can take away
What Diaz will note from this second loss in a row (previously to Clay Guida) is how effective his opponents’ combinations of wrestling and knowledgeable ground fighting defense have been as of late. While Nate’s striking is reminiscent of his brother Nick’s in a constant peppering style, it does not pose much knockout danger (although he does have two pro TKO wins) which only leaves his submission attempts as dagger to consistently rely on.
When your key to success in the Octagon begins to fade in effectiveness due to evolution of those around you, it is time to return to the drawing board and push forward into a new level. Expect Nate to come back stronger and more impressive in his next time out. Diaz has hit a bump in the road but has the capability and tools to persevere.
Where Joe goes from here
No doubt it will be in Joe’s best interests to continue his newly formed relationship with the Greg Jackson camp and continue preparing for his fights at their location in New Mexico. With his TUF Finale win over Diaz, I would expect the UFC brass to reward Daddy with a tough challenge such as the loser of the B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian UFC 101 title fight. A match-up with either man would be rematch from 2008 fights, and could easily serve as a co-main event at an event before year’s end.