Sport MMA

Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Fat boy off the beach' happy to take blows on road to riches

'"I came into this fight straight, fat boy off the beach from Cabo," said Diaz, his right eye badly swollen' Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE

Joe Callaghan

Twelve long years Nate Diaz has waited to have the night of his life. In the end, it came together in just 11 days.

While so much of the attention was focused on the defeated Conor McGregor as Saturday turned to Sunday and the remarkable results of both headline fights of UFC 196 were pored over, Diaz was busy savouring the kind of moment he had feared would never come.

The 30-year-old had accepted the call from UFC chiefs and taken the fight on less than two weeks' notice.

While that lack of preparation was apparent early on in the bout, as it wore on, Diaz's calculated risk was proved to be spot on.

"I came into this fight straight, fat boy off the beach from Cabo," said Diaz, his right eye badly swollen and a deep cut under it now stitched up after he had been caught numerous times in a ropey opening round and a half before he turned the Notorious tide.

"I felt like I was going to have a slow start. I didn't have a camp so I'd start slow, warm up, pick up as I go. I didn't have any sparring so I think I should have dodged that punch a little better.

"It reminded me of when I fought Kurt Pellegrino (in 2008). My corner jumped in and they were yelling, and I was like, 'Hold up, I'm warmed up now.' I figured it would probably go something like that with a little less damage."

While that right eye told the story of the damage he took, Diaz hadn't come close to folding like almost the entire featherweight division had done in the face of the feared McGregor left hand.

"I've been hit with everything, the hardest stuff by 168lb fighters, I spar with heavyweight fighters and I've been hit with everything," said Diaz, who earned over $1m on the night and can expect a significant pay day next time out too, possibly a lightweight title shot at Rafael Dos Anjos.

"He (McGregor) punches hard. He's a hard-hitting little guy but nothing that I've never felt before. I expect if I get hit by anybody it's going to be hard. But if you ain't taking me out, you're getting taken out, straight up."

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