Diaz has lightweight belt in crosshairs

UFC lightweight Nate Diaz speaks at a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012...

UFC lightweight Nate Diaz speaks at a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012 in New York City. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images/AFP)

Neil Springer, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 PM ET

Nate Diaz became the first fighter to finish Jim Miller, submitting the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt in the main event of UFC in East Rutherford, N.J., Saturday.

Diaz's reach and improved takedown defence proved too much for Miller. After a bit of back-and-forth action, Diaz dropped Miller with a straight left. Miller managed to survive the round, but fell victim to a nasty guillotine choke in the second.

“I'm feeling good and I'm happy to come out to New Jersey and perform in front of you guys,” Diaz said. “I know he's a great fighter and I have nothing against him. In order to get motivated I had to act like I was behind enemy lines.”

A disappointed Miller admitted Diaz was the better man.

“He had my number,” Miller said. "Nate is a tough guy. I knew he was a tough guy coming in. He was just landing strikes and hurting me."

With the win, Diaz stakes his claim for the winner of the lightweight championship rematch between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar.

"I'm trying to be No. 1 in the world," Diaz said. "But there's only one guy in front of us all and that's (Strikeforce lightweight champion) Gilbert (El Nino) Melendez.”

HENDRICKS HITS HARD

Johny Hendricks took a huge step towards a title shot, winning a spirited split decision against Josh Koscheck in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 3 in East Rutherford, N.J. Saturday.

“Give me that title, baby,” Hendricks said. “I want to bring it home to Texas.”

Despite being a fight between two former NCAA Division I wrestlers, the top welterweights spent the majority of the bout exchanging punches. However, Hendricks was the busier of the two, tagging Koscheck with hard left straights and right hooks.

Koscheck switched things up in the third round, securing a takedown and working for submissions, but it was too little too late.

“That is one tough, dude,” Hendricks said. "I hit him with everything I got and did everything I could. Hats off to that guy.

“I knew that he had heavy hands. I knew that he was going to be one tough fighter.”

BELCHER STAYS PATIENT FOR HIS MIDDLEWEIGHT SHOT

Alan Belcher said he wasn't afraid of Rousimar Palhares' leg locks and he proved it.

After failing on a twister submission attempt, Belcher found himself fending off Palhares' relentless submission game. But he stayed calm and managed to escape a Palhares heel hook. Then from inside Palhares guard, he delivered a series of brutal elbows and punches for the thrilling TKO victory.

“It was just standard procedure,” Belcher said. “I was doing this all the time in training. I was so ready and I wasn't scared.

“Baby, that (middleweight) belt is mine. I'm coming for it and you know it.”

JOHNSON FLASHY IN SECOND BOUT

Two fights in the UFC, two highlight reel knockouts for Lavar Johnson.

The former Strikeforce heavyweight unloaded with a vicious flurry of punches to put Pat Barry away, but it didn't come easy.

Early in the bout, Barry secured side-control and looked to be close to finishing an Americana shoulderlock. But after returning to his feet, Johnson backed Barry against the cage, where he uncorked a series of uppercuts and straights.

Barry showed a ton of heart, eating a large number of hard shots before finally hitting the mat.

“I feel great,” Johnson said. “Pat's a very tough guy and I'm just very happy to be here in the UFC.”

MORE FROM THE OCTAGON

Michael Johnson handed Tony Ferguson his first UFC loss, winning a unanimous decision in an exciting striking battle over The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner in the final preliminary bout.

Ferguson struggled with Johnson's southpaw stance, footwork and movement. Though Ferguson was constantly moving forward, Johnson stayed busy while waiting for his moments to pounce. Early in the first, Johnson dropped Ferguson with a hard straight left, a technique he would continually land throughout the bout.

John Dodson won a unanimous decision over Tim Elliott in one of the craziest stand-up battles of the year.

Elliott came out aggressive right at the bell, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Dodson. Side kicks, jumping kicks, flying knees and even a cartwheel. You name it, he tried it. But after receiving an accidental eye poke in the first round, Elliott struggled to track down Dodson, who settled into a sharp counter-striking game to sway the judges.

John Hathaway showed off some improved striking skills, brutalizing Pascal Krauss en route to an impressive unanimous decision.

Louis Gaudinot put John Lineker to sleep with a tight guillotine choke in a wild brawl.

Danny Castillo edged John Cholish to win a close unanimous decision. All three judges felt Castillo did just enough to take each round, scoring the bout 30-27 across the board.

TUF 14 finalist Dennis Bermudez put on a slam clinic en route to a dominant unanimous-decision victory over the scrappy Pablo Garza.

Winnipeg bantamweight Roland Delorme submitted Ottawa's Nick Denis with only one second left in the first round.

The opening bout saw Karlos Vemola bounce back from a rough first round to submit BJJ black belt Mike Massenzio with a rear-naked choke in his middleweight debut.


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