EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Nate Diaz continued his rise in the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight division, defeating Jim Miller by submission in the second round Saturday in the main event of UFC on Fox 3.
Diaz (16-7) stopped Miller with a guillotine choke at
4:09 of the second round and might have earned a shot at the lightweight title this year in the process.
“It was my time to shine, I guess,” Diaz said.
Miller’s face was bloodied by the time the New Jersey crowd started a “Let’s go Miller!” chant to rally the hometown fighter. Diaz, the winner of Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” taunted Miller (21-4) before he rolled him over and locked in his submission hold.
“Nate controlled the fight from bell to bell,” Miller said. “He never let me get any significant shots in there.”
Diaz returned to the 155-pound division after a mixed run at welterweight. He could take another fight or wait out a title defense this year by champion Benson Henderson, who is scheduled to meet former champ Frankie Edgar.
In a tight fight between former NCAA wrestling champions, Johny Hendricks (13-1) likely became the No. 1 contender for the welterweight belt with a split-decision victory over Josh Koscheck.
“If the title shot comes, it comes,” Hendricks said. “If not, I’ll stand in here with anyone they put in front of me.”
Hendricks won 29-28 on two judges’ scorecards, and Koscheck took the other, 29-28.
Hendricks connected with a pair of stiff leg shots and a knee to the face in the third round to give him an edge. But Koscheck (17-6) covered Hendricks in the final minute and seemed content to stay there in control. It just wasn’t enough.
“That’s one tough dude, man. I hit him with everything I got and I did everything I could,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks was a two-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American for Oklahoma State. Koscheck also was a four-time All-American at Edinboro University and a 2001 NCAA champ.
The UFC’s third show on network television opened with a heavyweight bout that featured some of the stiffest shots of the night.
Lavar Johnson (17-5) backed Pat Barry against the cage with a barrage of punishing lefts and rights that left Barry (7-5) slumped on the mat. Johnson, fighting nearly three years after he was shot in the abdomen during a random drive-by, won via technical knockout at 4:38 of the first round.
“With our styles, I knew it would end like this for one of us,” Johnson said.
Middleweight Alan Belcher (18-6) continued the trend of early finishes when he flattened Rousimar Palhares (14-5) to win by TKO at 4:18 of the first round.