Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz feels like a fight that should have happened years ago.
While the stars never quite aligned during “Showtime’s” run as UFC lightweight champion, nor when Diaz mounted his own charge for 155-pound gold in the early 2010s, they have now. At UFC 241, the long-time rivals will finally meet in the UFC octagon at welterweight, and while there is no title on the line, for Pettis, the chance to defeat Diaz is motivation enough.
Diaz, who has high-profile feuds with other UFC stars including Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, has seemingly played down Pettis’ claims of rivalry. However, when “Showtime” speaks about his Stockton-based opponent, it seems clear that this bout is not only personal for him, but also one he is especially desperate to win, as he suggested in a recent interview with Primeval Labs.
“This is going to be a fun camp, especially going up against a guy like Nate Diaz; no motivation needed,” he explained.
“Me and Nate have some history, he’s a talented guy and I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s fought some of the best, but this is one of the guys I can’t wait to hurt; I really want to get out there and put my hands on this guy. We have a long history. As far as where I am in my career, this fight will launch me to the next phase. I’m excited to get going.”
Pettis also seems well-aware of the significance of this bout, as he is every time he steps into the octagon. Not only is this fight clearly a personal affair, but it is also the co-main event on perhaps the blockbuster card of the summer and will take place in Diaz’s home state of California. None of these are new for Pettis, but he needs to rise to the occasion once more, as he did in his emphatic KO victory over Stephen Thompson at UFC Nashville earlier this year.
“Going into this fight, obviously there’s a lot of pressure with the media; the attention’s going to be huge in this fight. People want to see this fight. I’m going to his hometown, California, it’s not Stockton, but he’s going to have the fanbase there. For me, this is one of those fights that was supposed a long time ago. Me and Nate were supposed to fight when I was the champ and it just never happened. Now I have the opportunity to get out there and put my hands on this guy.”
Further, with Conor McGregor likely waiting to make his return to UFC competition, a victory over Diaz might put Pettis in prime position to face “The Notorious.” Pettis’ manager, Abraham Kawa, has previously suggested this would be the case, and with the Roufusport fighter primarily looking for legacy fights, a bout against McGregor would undoubtedly interest Pettis.
“I feel like at this point the only thing that excites me are the big names and big fights. People want to see me fight big names, so it just makes sense to chase these big fights. I want my legend, when I leave, to be that I fought the best in the world, in their prime. No matter who it was, I took that fight, I showed up and I put on a show.”
UFC 241 takes place on August 17 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The main event sees the mouth-watering rematch between heavyweight king Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, in what will surely be one of the final bouts in Cormier’s storied career. The card also features a long-awaited clash between Yoel Romero and Paulo “Borrachina” Costa, a bout that will surely end quickly and violently.
Other bouts on the card include Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch, Devonte Smith vs. John Makdessi, and Raphael Assuncao vs. Cory Sandhagen.