Start of, great thread content well thought out wish we could see more threads like this one.
I haven't seen the fight yet but I can appreciate Nate's approach to the fight. As much as you would expect him to after the Salaverry fight to take it up a notch, trading with Lister on the ground is a bad idea, very easy to caught by someone with the skills and credentials that Lister holds.
Saying that wasn't this fight not even shown on TV but kept on the undercard? I myself would not risk anything that I need not against such a decent opponent and i'm many others would not too, especially knowing that the fight would not even be seen by a mainstream audience.
Also don't forget Nate's strengths are on the ground he is a submission stud and has subbed some top guys Sudo, Almeida, Edwards, and those are only the well known names. Saying that he's never going to sub Lister in a million rounds, he's top notch on the ground and a real step above even someone as great as Nate.
That's the best explanation I could give without seeing the fight for myself but i'd expect that's the reasoning behind your ponderings.