UFC 241: Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz Preview

In mixed martial arts, the UFC stands far beyond any other organisation in terms of promoting superstars.

However, there are certain athletes, whose potential to be huge main event draws is overlooked.

One man, whose popularity is somewhat ignored, is Nate Diaz. One half of the second biggest PPV of all time and a real fan favourite, hasn’t fought in three years.

After a magnificent performance against Michael Johnson, Diaz delivered his iconic call out of Conor McGregor and what was to happen next would shock the world.

Conor McGregor, along with being the biggest name in the sport, also seemed virtually unbeatable. The featherweight belt was firmly wrapped around his waist after he knocked out the long reigning champion, Jose Aldo, after thirteen seconds.

After Rafael Dos Anjos sustained an injury two weeks before UFC 196, McGregor was in need of an opponent and Diaz was happy to oblige. That’s all he was though to the perception of most fans, barely anyone gave him a prayer.

Diaz had to survive a ferocious storm in the opening round, but after that he took control. He rocked McGregor to his boots and after the Irishman desperately shot for a takedown, Diaz wrapped himself around his opponent’s neck and forced the tap.

In the rematch Diaz would lose a razor close decision and from then on, he would remain out of the sport for a long time. Despite his obvious star power, he couldn’t agree financial terms with Dana White and, regardless of the fan interest, his return never looked to be imminent.

But in November it looked like we may finally get to see Diaz once again when a bout with Dustin Poirier was arranged. Unfortunately, the fight fell through after his opponent suffered an injury.

But on one of the best fight cards of the year, he will make his long-awaited return in his home state of California. His opponent is former world champion Anthony Pettis.

It looked as if one of the most dynamic fighters we’ve ever seen was coming to the end of his career. But in his last two appearances in the octagon, he’s reminded fans that he’s still got a lot left to give. In an incredible war he came as close as anyone has in recent times to defeating Tony Ferguson and in Nashville, he landed a stunning knock out.

Against Stephen Thomson he was at a huge size disadvantage and was losing the fight until he launched a huge superman punch which rendered ‘Wonderboy’ unconscious for the first time in his MMA or kickboxing career.

Pettis has huge momentum going into this weekend’s bout, which will take place at welterweight, a division where he claims to feel most comfortable.

The co-main of Saturday night’s card is, for many people, the main attraction. Several questions are to be answered; will Pettis emerge as a real title contender and insert his name amongst the elite welterweights, or will Diaz’s warrior mentality lead him back to victorious ways? Many wonder how many times Pettis can go to the well and also how much his absence from the sport will have affected Diaz? At UFC 241 all will be revealed, and the Anaheim crowd are being gifted a likely fight of the year contender.

 

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