Commentary

Nate Diaz is living up to the hype

Originally Published: May 7, 2012
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

Some stories, you remember everything. That's how it is when I recall Nick Diaz introducing me to his brother, Nate.

I knew Nick pretty well, having covered some of his early fights in California. This was back when promoters did same-night tournaments.

For instance, I saw Diaz win twice on a scorcher of a night near Fresno, before Jeremy Jackson knocked him out in the finals. Despite losing, his talent for fighting was obvious.

By the time we crossed paths late in the evening at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City in June 2005, Diaz had erased that loss with a stoppage and submission over Jackson, taking the rubber match in his UFC debut.

He was 3-1 in the organization when Zuffa matched him in the off-TV opener against Koji Oishi, which is why Nick, flanked by his brother, happened to be hanging out on a bridge connecting guest rooms to the casino floor, which by this hour was getting the vacuum treatment.

Whenever you see a fighter up late the night before he or she steps into a cage, it's worth a conversation. We didn't get far before Nick pointed to 20-year-old Nate, who was just one fight into this pro career.

Nate, Nick said, was going to be a better fighter than him.

An emphatic endorsement, really; one that at first came off like sibling pride. I didn't think it was possible until this Saturday when Nate, now 27, no longer the scrawny kid, made an emphatic statement about his potential in mixed martial arts by finishing Jim Miller for the first time.

Prior to meeting Nate Diaz in a five-round main event on Fox, Miller felt his opponent was in the same class of fighter as Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson. Unfortunately for Miller, he was correct.

After struggling to round into form, to find a weight division that worked for him, Nate Diaz (16-7) has come into his own. It's still too soon to say if the younger will surpass the older, but we know this: Nate could possess a UFC title soon, something which has eluded Nick to this point.