A BMF rematch with Jorge Masvidal, a cash-grab trilogy against Conor McGregor or the decision to swim with the sharks at lightweight… who could Nate Diaz fight next as he talks up UFC return to action?
- Nate Diaz remains one of the biggest draws in MMA despite sporadic fights
- He has been vocal since old rival Conor McGregor’s defeat by Dustin Poirier
- Diaz wants to either take on Poirier or rising contender Charles Oliveira next
- He also has unfinished business with Jorge Masvidal and McGregor
The UFC landscape shifts on an almost-monthly basis but Nate Diaz remains a fixed point of interest to fans.
His 12 defeats and long lay-offs do little suppress the hunger to see him perform with that compelling style and captivating personality on the mic.
And since his old rival Conor McGregor suffered a first stoppage loss of his career against Dustin Poirier last month, Diaz has been starting to make some noise.
Nate Diaz is weighing up his next move and there are a number of options on the table
The Stockton fighter last entered the cage against Jorge Masvidal, losing due to doctor’s stoppage after suffering nasty cuts to his eye. That was back in November 2019 and after more than a year out, the 35-year-old has an itch to compete again.
But who will he fight against? Dana White talked up a fight that fans could get excited about, saying: ‘We’re working on a Nate Diaz fight right now, and it’s not Tony [Ferguson]. But if we get it done, I think you’re gonna like it.
‘It would put him in a really good position if he won the fight, and the guy who he could potentially be fighting, I think it’s a great fight for him, too.’
Since then, Diaz has come out and expressed an interest in fighting Poirier or Charles Oliveira next but there remains a massive obstacle in that he is refusing to drop down to lightweight.
So, here are the runners and riders who could take on Diaz next, and the likelihood of those fights being made…
Diaz (right) was supposed to fight Dustin Poirier back in 2018 but ‘Diamond’ was injured
Back in August 2018, it was announced that Diaz would be fighting Poirier that November following a two-year lay-off.
But ‘Diamond’ was forced to pull out of the bout having sustained an injury in training. Three years later, Diaz still wants that contest and believes it is the perfect time now.
He told ESPN: ‘Dustin Poirier was supposed to fight me anyways and he didn’t make it. He pulled his ass out.
‘I don’t think he wants to [fight me], no. He may say he does but I don’t think he does because I’m not gonna play nice guy with him like Conor McGregor just did with him.
Poirier’s recent win over Conor McGregor means the ‘stars have aligned’, says Diaz
‘I think a fight with me would be a more serious situation for him and I don’t think he could sleep with that.
‘Now is the time for sure. We should have fought a long time ago and now the stars are aligned. He just won the fight [with Conor] and that’s the fight. I’m ready for a fight, and people are ready for the big fight. Now is the time.’
There are a few obstacles to this potential match-up, though. The UFC are understood to be leaning towards matching Poirier with McGregor again, allowing them to settle the score in a trilogy next.
It remains to be seen whether the lightweight belt would be on the line but that is a possibility.
Diaz last fought in 2019 but is making plenty of noise about a potential comeback this year
The other issue is that Diaz shows no willingness to drop down, cutting from welterweight to lightweight, a division he has not competed in since 2015.
He believes the UFC will be interested in the encounter at welterweight or a catchweight but his optimism is probably misplaced.
The UFC will want to keep Poirier down at lightweight as he is a key player in the narrative at 155lbs, arguably the most likely man to inherit Khabib Nurmagomedov’s belt.
So unless Diaz is willing to come back down to 155lbs, the chances of this fight happening are slim.
This is a fight plenty of fans would love to see and Diaz deserves credit for his willingness to take on a lesser name.
Oliveira might be the most dangerous man in the lightweight division at the moment but lacks the clout of other names around him.
His performance in beating Tony Ferguson so convincingly at UFC 256 put him right up there with the major players and Diaz was impressed.
He said: ‘That’s the guy right there. I’ll fight that guy. I like the winners. I want to fight winners because I ain’t lost to nobody.
Charles Oliveira is on an eight-fight winning streak and could be next in line for Diaz
‘I like the Oliveira fight or the Dustin Poirier fight.’
The Brazilian is a wizard on the ground and his stand-up is increasingly sharp. At 31, he’s entering his prime and would surely be interested in fighting Diaz, a man who has been beaten plenty of times before but is still regarded as a scalp.
Again, the issue of the weight cut rears its ugly head. Diaz would have to come down to lightweight.
Oliveira is even less likely to move up than Poirier as he has a slight frame and would give up plenty of advantages by doing so.
He would also be taking himself out of the title picture at 155lbs, unless that’s where he faced Diaz.
Oliveira has put together eight wins on the spin and worked incredibly hard to put himself in a strong position, so moving up to welterweight seems out of the question.
This fight could easily have legs, but only if Diaz compromises and drops down.
The third fight between these old rivals is always on the table.
McGregor suffered his first defeat in the UFC against Diaz, struggling to make his power tell against the physically larger man before gassing out and submitting to a rear-naked choke.
Of course, the Irishman exacted sweet revenge on the scorecards in their rematch, which was a blockbuster fight that swung back and forth.
The big question was timing. With McGregor chasing boxing matches and other challenges in the octagon, the schedule hasn’t quite married up, until now.
When he heard that Diaz was contemplating a return to 155lbs (White’s words, not Diaz’s), the Irishman did not hold back his excitement.
Nate Diaz believes he established the blueprint to beat McGregor in their first fight
‘I hear Dana talking about Nate Diaz coming back down to lightweight, I’d love to compete against Diaz,’ he told TheMacLife.
‘We will compete again but it if happens at lightweight for a title that would be something special. There’s many great options in the works and let’s see what happens.
‘I think if he’s going to come down to 155, he should come down for me to be honest with you.
‘Nate’s a warrior, Nate’s a go-er, Nate shows up, steps up, and fights,’ he added. ‘It’s not necessary, I don’t feel, to have him fight a 155-er, against another contender.
‘I think it should be me and Nate. If he’s going do 155, we could possibly do that for the belt. If not, I’ll probably just fight at 170lbs again.’
McGregor is excited by the prospect of a third Diaz fight but might want to face Poirier again
That willingness to step up and fight at welterweight will be music to Diaz’s ears. A win over Diaz in the trilogy would be the perfect way for ‘Notorious’ to get back on track.
But as he lost to Poirier, McGregor may want an immediate reply, rather than have it look like he’s running away from the challenges at lightweight.
No doubt Diaz would take the pay day again but he is at the mercy of McGregor’s decision.
A BMF rematch would work for both men.
In truth, Masvdial was dominating Diaz in their first fight but fans were denied a natural conclusion by the doctors stepping in to call it off due to horrible cuts on the Stockton fighter’s eye.
Diaz is known for his brilliant conditioning, competes in triathlons regularly and sticks to a vegan diet.
He usually does his best work later on in fights so there remains a nagging doubt in some minds about Masvidal’s win.
Jorge Masvidal beat Diaz in their contest for the BMF belt back in 2019 and could rematch him
This encounter would have the benefit of taking place at welterweight and could help Masvidal get back on track following his defeat by Kamaru Usman on short notice last year.
A win over Diaz could put him in line for the next title shot against either Usman or Gilbert Burns.
That said, it feels unlikely that Diaz will ever get his hands on the welterweight title and he has a far better chance of capturing lightweight gold, particularly with the power vacuum in Khabib’s absence.
White previously hinted at an exciting encounter being in the works for Diaz, so who could that be against?
The American is waiting for the right opportunity as he looks to rebuild following his swift defeat by Khabib on Fight Island last year.
Gaethje remains one of the most dangerous men in the division and a fans’ favourite too, putting on a show every time his steps into the cage.
A fight with Diaz would be a match made in heaven. Both give everything, are relentless and it would be a battle of will as well as skill.
Justin Gaethje is looking to get back to winning ways before he can have another title shot
This could be the fight White was trying to make for Diaz back at 155lbs and it certainly would open up plenty of doors for the victor.
The fight appeals to Gaethje, who said: ‘I mean, with the way this sport works, I’m no fool. He’s (one of the) top three biggest superstars in the sport even though he hasn’t fought in a long time. And in the position I’m in, I need a win.
‘It could be Nate Diaz, it could be Rafael dos Anjos, it could be Charles Oliveira, it could be Michael Chandler, it could be Conor McGregor. And when I attain that win, I will then get the title shot.
‘A win against Nate Diaz is just as good a win, right now for me, as Michael Chandler, Conor McGregor.’
If Diaz digs his heels in and refuses to come down, there’s little chance of this one happening. But there must be some indication he has given the UFC that he’s willing to do it, otherwise White would not have made the announcement.
If Diaz does in fact relent and do the work to slim down his frame, Gaethje might be the most likely opponent.
Diaz remains one of the biggest draws in MMA despite his lengthy lay-offs and defeats
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