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Nate Diaz to Face Rory Markham at UFC 111

Nate Diaz, Gray MaynardTrue to his word, Nate Diaz is moving up in weight.

The Stockton, Calif., fighter who has competed exclusively as a lightweight in the UFC said after losing a close split-decision to Gray Maynard on Jan. 11 that he planned to next compete as a welterweight. The UFC has accommodated his desires by matching him up with hard-hitting Rory Markham in a UFC 111 tilt.

The company confirmed the news on Tuesday.

Diaz (11-5) started his UFC career by winning season five of The Ultimate Fighter and then reeling off five straight victories, but since the last of those (a split-decision over Josh Neer), he's dropped three of his last four.

Citing a difficulty in making the 155-pound lightweight limit, Diaz voiced a desire to move upward, and gets a chance to do so against Markham, who's earned 11 of his 16 wins by KO or TKO.

Markham (16-5) will be coming off a long layoff, last appearing on a UFC card in Feb. 2009, when he was knocked out by Dan Hardy. He'd been expected to fight in January but couldn't due to a knee injury that is now apparently healed.

In addition to Diaz-Markham, the UFC also confirmed a middleweight bout between Polish slugger Tomasz Drwal and Brazilian grappling wiz Rousimar Palhares.

UFC 111 will emanate from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and feature two title fights: a welterweight championship fight between Georges St. Pierre and Hardy, and an interim heavyweight tilt pitting Frank Mir against Shane Carwin.