UFC 241: Nate Diaz thrills vs. Anthony Pettis in victorious return to the Octagon

Kevin IoleCombat columnist

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Nate Diaz came back after nearly a three-year hiatus and was in top form, pummeling Anthony Pettis and winning a unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC 241 at the Honda Center.

Judges scored it 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Diaz, who last fought at UFC 202 on Aug. 20, 2016.

After his victory, he called out Jorge Masvidal, who is coming off a five-second knockout victory over Ben Askren last month in Las Vegas.

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It was vintage Diaz. He fought at a high pace, using the 1-2 to great effect and hitting Pettis with several hard elbows. He also controlled Pettis in the moments the fight went to the ground and never let Pettis mount a significant attack.

Pettis cut Diaz over the right eye with an elbow late in the second round, but Diaz never let it bother him.

“That’s the Nate Diaz Army, motherf- - - - - -!” Diaz shouted after it ended.

It would have been a significant win in any event, but considering the long layoff and the fact that Pettis had fought seven times in his absence added to the legend.

He walked through most of Pettis’ punches and had several submission attempts. Diaz had Pettis’ back in the second, then hurt him with a knee to the body in the third and nearly finished him.

Pettis gutted it out but it was clear when the final bell sounded that Diaz was back. After calling out Masvidal, he walked over to the side of the cage where former interim champion Colby Covington was seated and began to shout at him.

The crowd chanted his name all night and Diaz reveled in what may have been the most significant win of his career.

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