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Don’t Call it a Comeback, Diaz Has Been Here for Years

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Pat yourself on the back if you got the LL Cool J reference. If not, take a walk around the block until you come to your senses. Puns aside, maybe it is a comeback of sorts; after all, Nate Diaz has been inconsistent for the last few years. When he’s at his best – he’s a world beater and can absolutely contend with, or defeat, anyone in the Lightweight division. Make no mistake, Diaz has been a top ten fighter for most of his career and right now he looks better than ever.

 

What transpired at UFC 196 was no fluke. It was not a one-off performance or a “lucky shot” that set up the submission victory. The end result was simply the collision of two born-warriors in a kill or be killed situation. It just so happens to be a predicament where the Diaz brothers thrive.

 

On paper, it was easy to underestimate Nate Diaz prior to last Saturday’s match. That’s not to say that Conor did, but the Vegas oddsmakers certainly didn’t think much of him as a -400 underdog. It makes sense, somewhat, considering he’d only won 2 fights and lost 3 over the last 2 years. He’s been called one-dimensional, overrated and even a choke artist that can’t close the deal in high profile fights.

 

Well, if a nasty one-two punch and a sick guillotine make him one-dimensional, that recipe has served him well, just ask Jim Miller, Michael Johnson or Conor McGregor. The latter two of the aforementioned opponents represent his 2-fight win streak, in which a disciplined, motivated Diaz performed to his potential by showcasing a skill set and gameplan for which few have an answer.

If the same Nate Diaz that dominated Johnson and submitted McGregor continues to show up, he will undoubtedly wear UFC gold before the end of 2016- he’s that good.

Seems like a bold statement considering how badly he was beaten up by the current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos when they met in December 2014. However, word on the street is that Diaz went into the fight with a serious injury which would explain his dire performance. As one would expect, he didn’t pull from the fight and certainly never made any excuses as to why he didn’t perform. And no one would expect him to do either of those things.

How well he does in the next phase of his career really depends on where his head’s at from now on. Among other grievances he’s aired at Zuffa brass in the media, the biggest one was money. That Diaz only received $20,000 show money and $20,000 win money (supposedly) in his December fight against Michael Johnson is an absolute travesty; especially in this day and age where UFC’s global imprint, multiple platforms, and merchandising are just icing on the already massive cake they are drawing from live gates and pay-per-view buys.

In other words, Zuffa is raking in 8 figures on a monthly basis and with the explosive growth, the overhead has increased by a mere fraction of the revenue. But, fighter pay is another discussion for another day. As for Diaz, he scored his biggest payday of his career with $500,000 show money as well as a Performance of the Night bonus and whatever undisclosed back-end income he’ll receive as the numbers come in. Good for him. He deserves it.

Assuming he stays motivated and continues his current path, the upward momentum of the Diaz brand will make his financial woes a thing of the past. As for his fight career, it looks very promising. Naysayers can no longer accuse him of choking under pressure because ..well, he just finished Conor McGregor on 10 days notice. Enough said. Just take a glance at his track record and consider his brutal TKO of Gray Maynard, submission of Jim Miller, lopsided beatdown of Cowboy Cerrone and his performance in the last two fights, and it puts into perspective what Nate Diaz can accomplish at his best, that is: he can beat anyone in the 155-lb division.

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Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.

 

Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April

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MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.

 

The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.

Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.

An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.

His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).

Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.

PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.

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