TUF 18 Finale Date: Nov. 30, 2013 Location: Las Vegas, NV Broadcast: FOX Sports 1 UFC Lightweight Nate Diaz (-140) Profile: TUF 5 winner and one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, Nate Diaz (16-9) is no longer in his older brother Nick’s shadow. After years in the UFC and an overall 10-5 record inside the Octagon, Nate Diaz decided to stop his welterweight experiment and seriously make a run in the lightweight division. When he went back down to 155 in late 2011/2012, Diaz looked unstoppable, beating up Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller with relative ease. His run was stopped when he fought then champion Benson Henderson and was dominated on the ground for five rounds at UFC on FOX. He followed up that losing performance by getting knocked out for the first time by Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez. Diaz went back to the drawing board and will now face old-nemesis Gray Maynard at the TUF 18 finale, whom he defeated on TUF 5, but lost to in controversial fashion at UFC Fight Night: Maynard vs. Diaz in 2010. UFC Lightweight Gray Maynard (+100) Profile: Gray Maynard (11-2-1, 1 NC) is arguably the most accomplished wrestler in the UFC’s lightweight division, if not all of MMA. He’s a three-time Division I All-American at Michigan State next to Rashad Evans, and has defeated a who’s who of the current lightweight picture, including Nate Diaz, Jim Miller and Bellator lightweight tournament finalist Brent Weedman. After a late start to his career in which he was brought in to help many top MMA stars with their wrestling, Maynard has developed a greater repertoire, but will always rely on his bread and butter: wrestling. Since his epic series of fights with Frankie Edgar for the belt, Maynard has been disappointing, going 1-2-1 in his last four with long layoffs between fights due to various injuries. In his last fight, Maynard looked especially sluggish after a tough weight cut, and was knocked out by TJ Grant in the first round. Maynard is still a dangerous fighter for anyone, and sits atop the top of the lightweight division as an especially tough contender, but it’s obvious he is on a decline. Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened Diaz as a -140 betting favorite (bet $140 to win $100), while Maynard opened as a +100 underdog (bet $100 to win $100) at Several Bookmakers. These two fighters have fought twice previously, splitting a pair of fights, with Diaz taking the first via submission and Maynard the second via split decision. Now, with both men clinging to a top 10 spot in the UFC lightweight division and with both in desperate need of a victory, they meet each other in a trilogy fight that headlines the TUF 18 Finale. This is a very good matchup on paper and it could go either way, but I thought the opening line was right on the money as I believe Diaz has more ways to win this fight and he’s not on such a rapid decline like Maynard is. However, the public is so far backing Maynard and the line has flipped, but with the fight just days away, don’t be surprised if it flips back to where it opened at as sharp money comes in on Diaz.