The List: The fighters who most fight like a Diaz
(By Steven Marrocco
, Ben Fowlkes
and Mike Bohn
March 4, 2014 4:15 pm):
For too long, our writers’ hyper-specific arguments have been confined to the private corridors of the Internet. Welcome to The List, where we take their instant message bickerings, add a little polish, and make them public. Today: the three fighters who, based purely on style, could pass for one of MMA’s infamous Diaz brothers.
* * * * 1. Dong Hyun Kim, because he walks the walk after talking the talk
Steven Marrocco:If you still read fighter interviews, you know how little what they say about what they’re going to do actually translates into reality inside the cage. They may tell you they’ll push for a ground fight, or work on keeping pressure high, or peddle any number of MMA fight cliches. They’ll certainly tell you they’ve prepared in every area, and that they’re ready for anything once that cage door shuts. But the cold reality is that anything could happen after that opening bell, and they don’t know what’s going to go down any more than you do.
When welterweight Dong Hyun Kim (19-2-1 MMA, 10-2 UFC) told MMAjunkie Radio he had turned over a new leaf and was going to be more aggressive and put on a show for fans, it registered the way you’d expect for a fighter with a pre-fight proclamation: That’s nice. For him to actually do it this past weekend at the TUF China Finale – and deliver not only his second straight knockout, but the kind that plays on infinite repeat on highlight programs – that was pretty boss.
By the end of the second round, Kim’s opponent, John Hathaway, had that beleaguered look of so many fighters who’ve walked into the cage with a Diaz. It’s the look you get when you just can’t get a break from engagement – this relentlessly stalking foe who never stops punching and kicking and taunts you for the temerity of responding with your own weapons. While nobody saw Kim’s spinning elbow coming, it certainly looked like things would go downhill for Hathaway in a 25-minute fight. Unfortunately, given the concussive ending, it might have been the better option.
So here’s to you, Kim. You did what you said you would do, and for that, you should get a top-5 opponent who will springboard you to a title shot. One more win like that, and no one could deny you’re due for a shot at the belt.
2. Anthony Pettis, because he’s brutally precise and has zero effs to give
Ben Fowlkes:You want to talk about unrelenting striking styles? Want to talk about fighters who are constantly on the attack, with seemingly zero concern about any offense that might be coming back at them? My friend, look no further than UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC). Not only does he give zero effs about your counter-attacks, he seems to regard even his opponents’ rare moments of success as nothing more than a runway to his own inevitable victory.
For instance, look at his most recent fight, with former champ Benson Henderson. Even when “Bendo” was smothering him against the fence (like he’s known to do), all Pettis looked was bored. When he discovered a hole in Henderson’s defense located somewhere in the region that a pro-wrestling announcer might refer to as “the breadbasket,” he didn’t settle for kicking him there once or even twice.
Instead he thwacked that shin in there again and again until even the usually stone-cold visage of Henderson gave way to a noticeable wince. When the former champ had had enough and finally nabbed a takedown off of one of Pettis’ more ambitious attacks, he probably thought he’d put an end to the punishment. Instead he put himself right into Pettis’ armbar, and by then it was all she wrote. Time to pull the Armani out of the closet and head to the after-party.
That’s the Diaz M.O., right there (except for the Armani, unless they make a line of high-end water pipes that I don’t know about). Pettis attacks with brutal precision, driving his opponents into panic mode as he ups the pace and the punishment, and then he capitalizes on the chaos right when the other guy is just trying to grab a breath and collect himself. The only thing worse than having Pettis bearing down on you is having him stop and think for a minute. Then it’s like in “Jaws,” when the shark fin briefly disappears under the water. You know he didn’t just quit, and whatever he has planned next is not going to be good for you, homie.
3. Brad Pickett, because even when he loses, it’s pretty spectacular
Mike Bohn:Fighters who enter the cage with a balls-to-the-wall style and little regard for their physical wellbeing are a dime a dozen, but what makes the Diaz brothers special is the ability to do what they do at the highest level of the sport. They not always victorious, but they’re able to make exciting fights even with unexciting opponents, and more often than not, they’re rewarded for their efforts in the form of UFC fight-night bonuses.
So who else out there possesses an impressive, yet inconsistent, record against top competition, a history of winning bonuses, and a relentless, in-your-face style that’s prone to making fans jump out of their seats? Enter UFC flyweight Brad Pickett (23-8 MMA, 4-3 UFC).
Win or lose, Pickett, who drops from bantamweight to flyweight to fight Neil Seery (13-9 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 37 event, usually turns in a thrilling performance. Despite his nickname of “One-Punch,” Pickett can just as easily submit an opponent on the ground as he can knock him out on the feet. Pickett also isn’t afraid to talk some trash, as seen in his ongoing feud with fellow UFC vet Ian McCall.
Pickett’s record may be sprinkled with losses, but like the Diaz brothers, the setbacks come to elite-level competition. He may never reach a championship fight, but you can always rely on Pickett for a great battle. For that, he’s likely to have a place on the UFC roster as long as he wants to compete.
For more on UFC Fight Night 37, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.