After nearly a year and a half layoff Nate Diaz has expressed interest in returning to UFC action. The 32-year-old stated that he would be interested in a return this May or June via Instagram.
This of course begs the question: Who will be Diaz’s opponent?
The short answer is whoever he wants. It is obvious that the Stockton, CA, native will be looking for the matchup that will prove to be the most lucrative but the May/June return date may be a key factor in a potential opponent’s availability.
Alvarez was among the first to call out Diaz after his Instagram post made waves.
“The Underground King” is no stranger to violent bouts and a matchup with Diaz would be no exception. One day after Nate’s post, Eddie responded via Twitter saying “May-June is perfect @NateDiaz209, see you then big guy”.
However, a couple days later this matchup seemed to be less likely to happen when Alvarez tweeted: “If you only want Connor there’s nuttin wrong wit that…dont call out the entire division when you dont want no work”.
If You only want Connor there's nuttin wrong wit that but Keep it 💯 wit everyone @NateDiaz209 , don't call out the entire division when You don't want No work from anyone of Us . It's as phony as your whole character You fucking Dork . You changed man #Fakenews
— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) January 26, 2018
He followed up that tweet explaining that a mutual friend had messaged him saying that Diaz was not interested in fighting Alvarez because Conor McGregor had previously beat him. This certainly makes this fight less likely to come together but I wouldn’t necessarily say all hope is lost.
If Diaz is unable to find an available opponent that peaks his interest and wants to stick to his desired return timeline, this may be revisited. For what it’s worth, the official UFC Twitter and Instagram account had reposted some of the banter back and forth between the two.
The “Motown Phenom” also did not waste any time in expressing his interest in a fight against Nate Diaz. After five straight victories that included four finishes, Kevin Lee lost his last with Tony Ferguson via third round triangle choke. Since that fight this past October, Lee has yet to find another dance partner. A scrap with Diaz would certainly be a fun one for MMA fans and a great way for Lee to bounce back. However, like the Alvarez fight, Diaz could find more dollars elsewhere.
Now more than ever, the UFC needs stars.
After a lackluster 2017 and the rising viewership in Bellator and other competing promotions, Dana White could use some fireworks this year. Surging welterweight contender Darren Till may be the answer. The undefeated 25-year-old made waves with his impressive first round TKO of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. A showdown with Diaz would be a win-win for the UFC. Till is certainly a worthy opponent that fight fans would love to see. A win against Diaz would only help to further his surging popularity. This has been more of a fan pick so far. No interest from Till or his camp has yet to surface.
An immediate title shot may ruffle the feathers of many contenders waiting on their shot at gold. However, crazier things have happened and Woodley could certainly use a high profile fight.
To most MMA fans, the welterweight champion’s last two fights have produced lackluster reviews. Woodley has fought the smart fight and secured the victories but not without the distaste of spectators and UFC brass. Going toe-to-toe with Diaz may be the show the fans are looking for and the payday Woodley deserves.
If you take away the May/June targeted return date, a fight with Conor McGregor might be the most likely fight.
Diaz has been outspoken about his disinterest in climbing the rankings and fighting for the belt. He wants to make money, and a lot of it. McGregor vs. Diaz III has to happen at some point and both parties know how lucrative it can be. Given Nate’s long absence from the octagon, I’m sure he’ll be willing to wait until the later Summer or Fall return date that has been rumored for Conor.
With the lightweight belt in limbo, if the UFC 223 main event between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov is officially for the undisputed title, this may help the trilogy fight between McGregor and Diaz come to fruition.