Lightweight Nate Diaz talked a lot of trash before his UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem bout with Donald Cerrone but he backed every bit of it up. Diaz and Cerrone each won a $75,000 Fight of the Night award from UFC president Dana White at the post-fight press conference but Diaz clearly won the fight.
Diaz used his range and reach advantage to pepper Cerrone with a constant barrage of arm punches. Diaz' unique MMA boxing style -- shared with his brother Nick Diaz who'll be fighting Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight belt on Superbowl weekend at UFC 143 -- overwhelmed Cerrone.
Cerrone came out in the second round and slowed the mauling. He was particularly effective with kicks to Diaz' lead leg, several of which planted Diaz on his backside. Unfortunately for "the Cowboy" it wasn't enough to overcome Diaz' massive punching advantage.
According to CompuStrike, Diaz landed a record 258 strikes, 248 of them punches. He landed an incredible 82% of his punches in the three rounds against Cerrone. By contrast, Cerrone only landed 35 of 151 striking attempts for a 33% rate.
Diaz, ranked as the #13 lightweight in the world before the bout in the USA TODAY/MMA Nation Consensus Ratings, should jump several slots after beating the #6 Cerrone. The Cerrone win is his second straight, helping him recover from a two fight losing streak that started his 2011 and precipitated his drop from welterweight to lightweight.
Diaz would be possibly the most compelling title challenger for Frankie Edgar, a champ with very little charisma or fan interest.