EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For years, Nate Diaz has been in the shadow of his older brother, controversial UFC welterweight contender Nick.
But after Nate's impressive showing Saturday in a nationally televised bout at the Izod Center, that may no longer be the case. The younger Diaz put on a superlative performance in defeating one of the UFC's top lightweights, Jim Miller, in front of Miller's hometown fans. Diaz won via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:09 of the second round.
Diaz won a tight, fast-paced first round. Then he really opened up in the second round. The Stockton, Calif., native repeatedly dropped his arms and taunted Miller, causing Miller to charge at Diaz and miss with wild strikes. Diaz responded with crisp offense, mixing his punches, elbows and knees, as he slowly softened up Miller for the finish.
A jiu-jitsu black belt, Diaz got Miller (21-4) into a single-arm guillotine choke, then maneuvered around and wrapped the choke tight for the submission.
"I know he's a great fighter, the whole fight was hard," said Diaz (16-7). "When I took the arm off to readjust, I knew (the choke) was tight."
Diaz has won three straight fights since dropping from welterweight to lightweight.
The rest of the night's main card featured interesting stylistic matchups. In the first UFC meeting of former NCAA wrestling champions, Johny Hendricks (Oklahoma State) defeated veteran Josh Koscheck (Edinboro) via a close split decision. The welterweight bout ran the gamut from hard-hitting slugging to intricate wrestling exchanges, with Hendricks (13-1) doing just enough to get the nod from two judges via 29-28 scores.
Middleweight Alan Belcher (17-5) of Biloxi, Miss., had the most impressive win of his career in a first-round TKO of Brazil's Rousimar Palhares. Palhares is a jiu-jitsu world champion known for his debilitating leg locks. Palhares (23-4) took Belcher down early and had him in trouble, sinking in a deep heel hook. But Belcher escaped, reversed position on the ground and finished Palhares with a series of elbows and punches. The bout was stopped at 4:18 of Round 1.
A bout billed as a heavyweight slugfest lived up to its hype as Californian Lavar Johnson (17-2) finished Pat Barry of New Orleans at 4:38 of Round 1. Johnson ripped off a string of three dozen standing punches to wear Barry down and force the stoppage.