Nate Diaz (left) holds a 12-2 UFC experience edge over Rory MacDonald. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
With a high-octane welterweight fight pairing Rory MacDonald with “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner Nate Diaz, the UFC 129 undercard brings with it several storylines to be resolved on Saturday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
What’s more all seven of the preliminary bouts will either stream on Facebook or air live on Spike TV. Here is a closer look at the undercard, with previews and picks.
Rory MacDonald vs. Nate Diaz
The Matchup: MacDonald nearly had the “Upset of the Year” at UFC 115, as he was taken out in a last-minute stoppage loss to Carlos Condit in June. MacDonald was steamrolling to what seemed a likely decision victory and gave Condit a handful with his imposing ground-and-pound and aggressive style. At just 21 years old, he is a welterweight with a huge upside and a lot of talent.
Diaz remains Diaz. Like his brother, Nick Diaz, he employs a pesky, disdainful standup style, daring opponents to stand in the pocket and trade strikes -- which few do -- or to take him down; most can, but nobody wants to.
Diaz has a great chin, top-notch conditioning and a stifling defensive jiu-jitsu game. In a perfect world, every Diaz fight would be five rounds, because three is simply not enough to let his game plan unfold, particularly in a sport dominated by wrestlers looking to win two of three rounds on the cards.
Since Diaz moved to welterweight, where he is ostensibly more comfortable, his style has been ever-tested, with the same old challenges rearing their heads. He can be outwrestled and held down, as Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson and Dong Hyun Kim have done, but he is rarely beaten up or dominated. Even Gray Maynard refused to take down Diaz, because his guard is that dangerous.
MacDonald might be the guy wired to try it. Diaz foes get sucked into standing and trading, and, suddenly, they are getting outpunched three to one and cannot keep him off them. MacDonald will shoot for takedowns and get them; that is when the fun starts. He will have to work readily without getting reversed or submitted, and Diaz always fights harder when someone nails him.
This could be a heck of a fun fight to watch, because MacDonald seems wired for violence and certainly is not content to lay and pray his way to a decision -- which is pretty much the best way to beat a Diaz. Making it exciting only plays right into their hands.
The Pick: This is a tough fight to call, but MacDonald will have just enough vigor and relentlessness to pound out a hard-earned decision win.
Continue Reading » Next Fight: Kyle Watson vs. John Makdessi