Thursday, December 8, 2022

Maximov: UFC Is “Punishing” Me Because Of Diaz Association

UFC middleweight prospect Nick Maximov believes he’s identified a correlation between Nate Diaz‘s departure and the level of competition he’s facing.

Next weekend at UFC Vegas 62, Maximov will return to the Octagon for his fourth outing under the UFC banner. The 24-year-old Stockton native, who is a protégé of the Diaz brothers, will be looking to rebound in Las Vegas having suffered the first loss of his professional career last time out.

After outpointing Cody Brundage and Punahele Soriano in his first two bouts, Maximov was submitted by TUF 29 semifinalist Andre Petroski in just over a minute at UFC Vegas 54 this past May.

If he’s to return to winning ways, Maximov will have to get past Australian wrestler Jacob Malkoun. Like the American, “Mamba” had a two-fight win streak in the UFC snapped last time out.

In Maximov’s mind, Malkoun represents the latest in a string of tough opponents he’s been given ever since arriving in the UFC not long after initially missing out on a contract following his victory on Dana White‘s Contender Series.

While some would perhaps take a tough strength of schedule as an indication of the level that the promotion thinks they’re at, Maximov believes there might be an ulterior motive at play…

Maximov: Diaz Leaves & UFC Gives Me Hard Fights

During a recent interview with LowKick MMA’s Alex Behunin, Maximov was asked about the difficult assignments he’s taken inside the octagon during his short career there to date.

Since a debut loss to the Stockton prospect, Brundage has since recorded a pair of first-round stoppage wins over Dalcha Lungiambula and Tresean Gore. Soriano, meanwhile, was coming off a decision loss to Allen, but had previously knocked out Oskar Piechota and Duško Todorović to build a reputation as an immensely promising prospect.

Having then been handed Petroski and now Malkoun, Maximov believes his strength of schedule early in his UFC tenure is significantly tougher than most prospects. To prove that point, he brought up reports that Bo Nickal will be facing Jamie Pickett on debut later this year.

“I know, they f*cking hate me,” Maximov said whilst laughing. “It’s all good. I look at it, like, Tyson Fury said one time, ‘I never would’ve wanted to make a career off of fighting bums.’ … Like, Bo Nickal’s fighting Jamie Pickett, it’s hilarious. I mean, that is the dumbest sh*t ever. Imagine saying you want a top-15 guy and you’re in there fighting that guy.

“I’m fighting Jacob Malkoun, and I thought he beat Brendan Allen… I think he’s pretty good, he’s tough. And then Cody knocks his last two dudes out, Puna knocked his last dude out. I’m like, that’s who I’m fighting,” Maximov added. “It’s f*cking ridiculous dude. I’m getting pissed off now.”

But Maximov believes there may be a reason for the fight offers that get slid across his desk.

As a close friend and training parter of Nate Diaz, who was embroiled in a dispute with the promotion throughout this year, the 24-year-old believes that his association with the MMA star may be playing a part.

“I think they are kind of punishing me, I don’t wanna say for Nate leaving, but it’s kind of like, it’s just weird how he’s all of a sudden out and they’re trying to give me these tough-ass guys. I don’t care, it’s whatever. But it’s kind of like, ‘F*ck, dude.’ It’s hard.”

Diaz fought out his contract on MMA’s biggest stage, where he’d competed since winning TUF 5 in 2007, last month at UFC 279. While he’ll no longer be featuring inside the promotion’s cage, perhaps fans will see Diaz on UFC programming as he continues to support Maximov’s career.

This story originally appeared on Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.