Conor McGregor (L) and Nate Diaz battle during their welterweight rematch at the UFC 202

If there’s one area Nate Diaz has improved in during his long layoff, it’s his ability to avoid taking big shots according to UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.

Diaz returned to action for the first time in three years last month when he took on Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of UFC 241. However, it certainly didn’t look like it as Diaz put in a dominant performance to grab a unanimous decision win.

The Stockton native will remain active now as he is set to face Jorge Masvidal in the UFC 244 headliner which takes place November 2 in Madison Square Garden, New York. And Whittaker feels his improvement — particularly in covering up and moving around — will play a role against Masvidal.

“I feel like in Nate’s last few fights, he’s shelling up, he’s covering up,” Whittaker said on a recent episode of Grange TV. “The way he avoids taking those big shots is much better. I feel like from McGregor to now, he’s just gotten much better than he was.”

“In Nate’s last fight, he was shelling up a lot of the shots. He didn’t take any big shots if he had to. He was moving well. The way he was angling his face, his shoulders and stuff. He was taking the shots in places he could take them. I think that’s going to be super effective against Masvidal, especially over five rounds.”

Jake Shields — a teammate of Diaz’s who was also on the episode — unsurprisingly agreed and believes Diaz has superior boxing and jiu-jitsu than Masvidal. However, he is not looking past him.

“I agree. Nate’s in phenomenal shape,” Shields responded. “He knows how to not blow his energy. Definitely favors him in a five-rounder.

“But like I said, Masvidal is one of those tough guys, not someone you look past. I cornered Gil Melendez against Masvidal a while ago. Masvidal wasn’t a big name at the time and I was watching his fights. Like man, this is a tough guy we’re fighting.”

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