We'll be in for a treat this weekend as we'll get to witness a very good match up between two TUF veterans in Nate Diaz vs. Joe Stevenson. This is a VERY important fight as both fighters are coming off losses. However, Stevenson has lost 3 straight and a loss here could possibly see him released from the UFC. Nate Diaz is coming off a loss to Clay Guida, but it's not a loss that really hurt his stock, as Guida just bear hugged him the entire fight. Yet, he still loss and had he used his length correctly he would have picked Guida a part. Well, let's take a look at how these two match up:
Joe Stevenson-Stevenson is compact and strong, adequate standup skills, very good guillotine, and is pretty difficult to finish
Nate Diaz-Rangy, pretty good stand up, very good BJJ, had good cardio
This is going to be a pretty difficult match up for Joe Stevenson. If the fight remains standing, Stevenson will be giving up a HUGE reach advantage to Diaz. Diaz could just stay on the outside and pepper Stevenson with 1-2's. However, Stevenson could choose to take Diaz down and try to implement some GnP. Stevenson will have a strength advantage, but then again Diaz is very good off his back so I'm not sure Stevenson would want to chance that either. I don't see him KO'ing Diaz, nor do I see him being able to submit him either. I think Stevenson needs to close the distance to nullify Diaz's reach advantage and keep him up against the cage to goto work. He can mix in some take downs to keep Diaz honest, but for the most part he should try to bully Diaz against the cage. Clay Guida enjoyed success doing that and Stevenson may be able to do so as well.
Nate Diaz should just stay on the outside and use his reach advantage to keep Stevenson at bay. We saw how successful Diego Sanchez was in landing combo's against Stevenson and Diaz should be no different. I know Diaz is great off his back, but Stevenson is well versed in submissions as well so he shouldn't chance trying to catch him in a sub from that position. He can't really afford to lose two in a row just because he doesn't have dominant position.
This is a tough fight to call. On one hand you have a guy with his back against the wall in Joe Stevenson. Those type of fighters are always dangerous. I could see Stevenson getting Diaz to the ground while avoiding submission attempts and taking a decision. I could also see Diaz tagging Stevenson repeatedly with Stevenson's cardio becoming a factor later in the fight.
Who you got in this one?