Nate Diaz’s return from a year-long layoff in 2015 proved to be one of the most pivotal moments in the Stockton native’s career.
Diaz (20-12 MMA, 15-10 UFC) faced Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox 17 on Dec. 19 looking perhaps in the best shape he’s ever been, then went on to deliver a performance to match in one of his most impressive displays in the octagon.
Johnson came out and attacked Diaz’s heavy front leg early, but had a hard time closing the distance. By the midway point in Round 1, Diaz had found his groove and started to punish Johnson with his jab.
Diaz continued to land on Johnson with two-piece combinations, sliding to the right on the exit to avoid being caught on the counter. He used his reach advantage to pepper Johnson, taunting him on numerous occasions as he did so.
It may have been one of Diaz’s finest, most refined performances, but his impressive display during the fight was overshadowed by what immediately followed it, as he grabbed the microphone and took his career to a new level.
Diaz called out Conor McGregor in one of the most infamous post-fight interviews in UFC history, and it paid dividends. Three months later, Diaz later stepped in on short notice to face McGregor at UFC 196, and submitted the Dubliner in the second round before famously declaring himself unsurprised by the result.
Check out Diaz’s pivotal win over Johnson in the video above.