Nate Diaz says he’s ready to return to the octagon, but there are some caveats involved.
Diaz hasn’t competed since his doctor’s stoppage TKO loss to Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 244 in November 2019. One of the most popular fighters in the UFC has two opponents in mind for his return to action, which would include Dustin Poirier in the 1-A position.
Poirier is coming off of a second-round knockout win over Diaz’s longtime rival Conor McGregor in the main event of this past month’s UFC 257 event. While “The Diamond” is certainly a fight Diaz would be up for, he believes the reason the main event went down the way that it did was different than how most viewed the fight.
“I think it was less of Dustin doing anything great and more of Conor f*cking up,” Diaz told ESPN. “That’s my personal opinion. I think he was wearing them shots. It looked pretty in the bag to me. I thought [McGregor] f*cked up. I think he still makes the same mistakes he always has.”
The mistakes Diaz was referring to were related to McGregor looking to put his opponent away early and running out of gas—which is a formula the Stockton native states he created when he submitted the Irish superstar at UFC 196 in the second round.
For Diaz, whether he was overly impressed or not with Poirier’s performance, a big win is a big win and it got his attention.
“Now is the time for sure,” Diaz explained. “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.”
The second of the caveats that will need to play out, according to Diaz, is that his next fight—and all future fights—will not take place at 155 pounds. Poirier, of course, is the top contender in the lightweight division, but Diaz isn’t interested in dropping down any longer.
After avenging is UFC 178 loss and by putting McGregor away a few weeks ago, Poirier has a lot of options, including a trilogy fight with McGregor in a matchup both parties seem to be intrigued by.
For Diaz’s pen to hit paper on a potential fight with Poirier, the fight will need to take place at 165, 170, or higher. To that point, Diaz was asked if he believes the UFC is interested in putting the bout together.
“I believe they should be [interested],” Diaz stated. “What else is he gonna do?
“They’re trying to bring [Conor] back from the dead? They always talk about my record and how I have 11 losses. I’ve tried to rematch all of those losses. Never would they even consider it. ‘Don’t even ask, you lost.’ And 95 percent of them were all decision losses that were hardly lost. Most of them I won so why would it be so out of the question for me to have a rematch with somebody now?
“But this guy gets finished by me, he gets finished by Khabib. They built up this whole Dustin Poirier fight to get the rematch with Khabib and then he lost to him and now they’re talking about a rematch. This guy is just gonna get gifted rematches? That’s crazy to me. And I think Conor is great and he does his thing, but it’s all about timing and, like I said, it’s starting to align right now, dog. It’s time for something different. You’re gonna try and keep this show going for him? That’s cool if that’s what you’re gonna do. Why should he get a rematch after getting finished hella quick?”
The TUF 5 winner has made 25 octagon appearances and always endeared himself to the fans due to his grit and no filter mentality. After defeating Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 17 in December 2015, Diaz cut a scathing promo on McGregor challenging him to a fight, which he ended up getting as a short notice replacement for Rafael dos Anjos in March 2016.
After Diaz submitted McGregor and his superstardom began to take off, he would lose the rematch five months later at UFC 202 in a still debated majority decision. Diaz would take over two years off before agreeing to fight Poirier at UFC 230 in New York in November 2018. The former interim lightweight champion was forced to withdraw from the matchup due to a hip injury and Diaz’s return took place in August 2019 where he defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 241.
Since contracts had been signed previously for the matchup, Diaz wholeheartedly believes the fight with Poirier is the one, but it would have to be at 170 pounds.
When it comes down to it, according to Diaz, Poirier speaking his name is lip service only in his mind.
“Dustin Poirier was supposed to fight me anyways and he didn’t make it. He pulled his ass out,” Diaz said. “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. I think a fight with me would be a more serious situation for him and I don’t think he could sleep with that.”
Is the fight with Poirier can’t come together, there was another surging 155er that has caught Diaz’s eye, Charles Oliveira. Diaz was impressed with Oliveira’s recent win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256.
“That’s the guy right there. I’ll fight that guy,” Diaz said of Oliveira. “I like the winners. I want to fight winners because I ain’t lost to nobody.
“I like the Oliveira fight or the Dustin Poirier fight.”