For quite a whole lot of reasons, the upcoming UFC 118 event is quickly becoming the can’t-miss event of the latter half of 2010. Whether it’s James Toney vs. Randy Couture, Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn, or even Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard, UFC 118 sounds like a dream-card on paper. However, there’s one UFC 118 fight that I’ve seen a definitive lack of coverage on, and for the life of me, I can’t tell why. It’s virtually vanished from the popular press, but I’m really looking forward to the match-up between Marcus Davis and Nate Diaz.
The main reason I’m looking forward to this fight is because both men’s styles match up so well with each other. Even though a majority of his wins have come via submission, Nate Diaz loves to strike. Marcus Davis needs no introduction as a striker; he’s competed in some awesome all-out striking wars and has displayed a resiliency that sometimes seems superhuman.
The key difference between the two is their unique punching styles. Davis was a professional boxer for seven years, and that mentality hasn’t died yet, but rather evolved. Through trial and error, the more-traditional striking of Marcus Davis has bridged the gap between boxing and MMA and given “The Irish Hand Grenade” seventeen wins in a seven-year career. Nate’s style is vastly different and far trickier than that of Davis. Like his slightly-more-famous brother Nick, Nate has adopted the “punches in bunches” style of peppering shots that are designed to do cumulative damage rather than definitively KO an opponent.
It’s true that Diaz is 2-3 in his last five fights while Davis is 3-2, but also like big-brother Nick, I think the smaller Diaz brother is finally beginning to realize his potential. Still, Davis poses a big threat to Nate, since Davis has always been a rather large Welterweight while Nate Diaz just got done with a stint at Lightweight. If the weight advantage isn’t enough, I’ll be frank and admit that Davis has more power in his punches. Remember, the reason both Nick and Nate adopted the “punches in bunches” style to begin with was because of their inability to one-hit KO their opponents. Then again, Nate Diaz has never been knocked out before, while the iron chin of Davis finally cracked against an explosive knee courtesy of former UFC fighter Ben Saunders. Davis may have more pure power, but Diaz is super-tough and has very long arms, so his peppering shots may find home so often that they’ll wear out Davis enough to diminish his fierce punching power. Or Davis could go for broke like he almost always does and become only the second man to ever legitimately (T)KO a Diaz brother.
The one area of expertise that Diaz clearly has over Davis is the ground game. The younger Diaz has become known as a submission specialist, and for his near-inescapable modified Guillotine Choke in particular. More often than not, fighters faced with the realization that Diaz is getting the better of them at the striking game attempt to take him down, only to end up getting submitted. Diaz’s style of punching is very frustrating, and I think it’s quite possible that Davis will lose his head and attempt to go for broke if Diaz begins to pick him apart, which will lead to Diaz either taking Marcus down or being taken down himself, but getting the submission either way.
But no matter what happens, this should be an excellent match. Could it steal the show against bouts like Edgar/Penn 2 or Toney/Couture? Maybe not when you consider how much hype is surrounding those two fights, but trust me, Diaz vs. Davis has “sleeper hit” written all over it. It’s a shame these two haven’t seen their time in the spotlight nearly enough as Couture, Toney, Penn, or Edgar. It may not put either man “in the mix” but sometimes you have to appreciate a fun fight just because it’s a fun fight. And this one is going to be a whole lot of fun.
But what do you think, fans and friends? What’s your opinion on Nate Diaz vs. Marcus Davis?