Diaz can burst out of his brother's shadow

Like his brother Nick, Nate Diaz isn't afraid to speak his mind. Unlike his brother, Nate appears to be closing in on a title shot.

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Nate Diaz doesn't have time for things that don't make him a better fighter. Answering questions doesn't do much to improve his skills as a mixed martial artist, so Diaz isn't eager to engage in lengthy discussions with the media or adoring fans.

When a question to him was prefaced with "I know you hate the media," Diaz grabbed his microphone and said, drolly, "I don't hate the media. You guys are doing a good job."

But Diaz may have rethought that after he was asked later whether he'd sit out to wait for a title shot. The lightweight title picture is extraordinarily complicated and not even UFC president Dana White is certain what is going to happen beyond the rematch between champion Benson Henderson and ex-champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 150 in the summer.

One day after White said Diaz would earn a title shot against the Henderson-Edgar winner should he beat Jim Miller on Saturday at UFC 148, White hesitated.

Without question, a victory over Miller in the main event of UFC on Fox 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., would carry significant weight. But Anthony Pettis has also been promised the next crack at the champion.

So, while it makes sense that the Diaz-Miller winner would face Pettis at UFC 150 with that winner becoming the No. 1 contender, Diaz didn't want to consider it. He was asked if he'd sit out nine months to await a title shot. Diaz scowled and shook his head.

"I have a fight on Saturday," he said, incredulous at the questions.

Diaz knows the pitfalls of looking ahead and he's not going to do it. The winner of Season 5 of "The Ultimate Fighter," Diaz has come a long way in the last several years and is on the verge of shedding the label as Nick Diaz's baby brother.

Nick Diaz is one of the elite fighters in the world, though after a loss in February to Carlos Condit for the UFC interim welterweight title, he said he was probably going to retire. Not many took that seriously, but Nate Diaz said it may be true.

"He doesn't have an interest in fighting right now, so as of right now, no [I don't think he'll come back]," Nate Diaz said.

And that would automatically make him the family's best fighter.

But Nate Diaz has grown enough that he no longer should be in anyone's shadow. His accomplishments stand on their own merit.

He enters the fight with Miller on a two-bout winning streak and is coming off an eye-opening victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC 141. At the time, Cerrone was the hottest fighter in the world not named Jon Jones, and Diaz simply took him apart in shockingly one-sided fashion.

The win stunned the MMA community, not only because of how comprehensive it was, but because Diaz had been similarly throttled earlier in the year by Rory MacDonald.

But what the MacDonald fight mostly proved was that Diaz is not a welterweight. He's lean and lanky and, despite being tall enough for the welterweights, he's not nearly strong or bulky enough. The top guys can physically overwhelm him.

At 155, though, his reach makes his boxing skills that much more formidable and he's great at jabbing and throwing combinations to maintain the perfect distance.

If he lacks anything, it's wrestling skills, but his vastly improved striking makes him hard to take down. Miller is a wrestler with great submission skills, so it would figure that he'll try to take Diaz down.

Diaz is smart enough to know what happened the last time out isn't necessarily what is going to happen this time. Miller and Cerrone are vastly different, so Diaz isn't about to predict a stand-up slugfest.

"It just depends on what type of fighter you're dealing with," Diaz said. "Cerrone was throwing punches at me, so that's what happened.”

But Diaz, who earned his black belt from Cesar Gracie earlier this year, is prepared for anything. And, in typical Diaz fashion, he's blunt when it comes to what he expects of his opponents.

Nick Diaz was irate at the way Condit constantly circled the cage and refused to engage. Some took it as a blueprint for handling the Diaz style. Whenever one person has success with a particular strategy, others eagerly adopt it.

"Maybe [guys will try to fight me that way], but I don't know," Nate Diaz said. "But now, [if you do take that approach], that doesn't make you much of a fighter, I think."

Nobody would ever accuse Nate Diaz of not being much of a fighter. And if he beats Miller on Saturday, his days of playing second fiddle to his big brother are probably over, as well.

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