Six Potential Opponents For Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Tuesday, July 19 to express that he wants out of the UFC. In order for Diaz to leave the UFC, one of two things must happen — he either has to fight one more time or the UFC has to release him. In either scenario, there are a handful of interesting opponents for Diaz’s next fight. First, I will look at three opponents that would make sense for his final UFC fight. Then, I will discuss some potential opponents for Diaz if the UFC cuts him.
Fights in the UFC
The one contestant in finding an opponent for Diaz is that you never know what he is thinking. It can also be hard to tell what the UFC is thinking. I am going to try to touch all the bases when determining who Diaz could fight in the UFC. This includes the money fight, an aging veteran, and a young up-and-comer.
1. Conor McGregor Trilogy
Conor McGregor is the clear number one option for Diaz’s last UFC fight. The McGregor vs Diaz rivalry is one of the best in the sport. After two fights, each fighter has one win. If you can only make one more fight for Diaz, closing the book on an all-time rivalry is an appealing option. For Diaz, this is one last opportunity to headline a UFC pay-per-view and receive a massive payday.
On the flip side, when evaluating potential opponents for McGregor, Diaz makes a lot of sense. The same reasons stand, McGregor gets an opportunity to get a second win over Diaz, while he brings in a boatload of cash. With that being said, McGregor would also get to return from his injury against a fighter that is not as high of a caliber as elite lightweights. Essentially, this would be a high-level tune-up fight. Even though tune-up fights are not common in MMA, you could hide that behind the name Diaz.
2. Tony Ferguson
A fight between Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson has always been in the cards. In their primes, this would have had the potential to be an all-time great fight. Now, Diaz is 37 years old and is 1-3 in his last four, while Ferguson is 38 and has lost his last four. Needless to say, the pair appear to be on the downswing of their careers. This would be a good opportunity to give the fans a fight they have been coveting while finding a match-up that makes sense for both fighters. For the UFC, this would give them a great opportunity to assess Ferguson’s skills as Diaz walks out the door. It has been tough to gauge how good Ferguson currently is, as he has continuously fought the best fighters in the world. If Ferguson gets the jump on Diaz, he would secure his current position in the UFC.
3. Khamzat Chimaev
The last potential UFC fight for Diaz is Khamzat Chimaev. Many people believe that Chimaev has championship potential. In his UFC career, Chimaev has impressed, going 5-0 with a win over Gilbert Burns. The UFC would certainly be interested in promoting Chimaev and his championship potential. The best way to do that is by giving him a fighter that has a big name who he should be able to beat. Diaz is the best fighter for that. It is not unreasonable to believe that Diaz would decline this fight; however, he may just swallow the bullet and take on the up-and-coming Chimaev if that means he can leave the UFC.
Outside of the UFC
If you think it is tough to match make for Diaz while he is on the UFC roster it only gets more difficult if he is a free agent. Realistically, Diaz could do anything he wants. He could continue fighting in MMA, he could start boxing, or he could compete in grappling. It is tough to tell exactly what route he will choose. Regardless, let’s look at some of the possible options for Diaz if the UFC decides to cut him.
1. Jake Paul — Boxing
Jake Paul is an obvious answer. Personally, I would not be a fan of seeing Diaz fight Paul but I would be ignorant if I ignored the possibility. Recently, Paul has voiced that he wants to fight Diaz once he is out of contract. It is obvious why Paul would be interested in this fight. He has the opportunity to display his skills against one of the biggest names in combat sports while making an exuberant amount of money.
There is one big question here. Why would Diaz want this fight? After all, if he loses, he becomes a meme, and he would tarnish his legacy. Although, I do not think losing crosses Diaz’s mind. Instead, he likely views a fight against Paul as an easy payday.
2. Michael Page — Bare Knuckle Boxing
Michael “Venom” Page has recently agreed to fight former UFC fighter Mike Perry in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. If Page can get a win, Diaz could be a future opponent. For Diaz, bare-knuckle boxing seems pretty on brand. From a stylistic standpoint, the format also plays into his high output and low-power striking style. The majority of the time seeing a fighter compete in bare-knuckle boxing is sad. Usually, fighters that compete in bare-knuckle boxing do not have other options. However, that is not the case with Diaz. In addition, Page would be the perfect opponent. He is one of the most popular fighters to never fight in the UFC, and the fight would be competitive, as Page is a kickboxer at heart. It is also improant to note that Page is currently under contract with Bellator. In order for him to compete in BKFC, Bellator will have to allow him. With that being said, if they agreed to him fight Perry, they will likely let him fight Diaz.
3. Rory MacDonald Rematch — Professional Fighters League
Nate Diaz and Rory MacDonald fought back in 2011 as MacDonald won via decision. Now may be the time for the rematch. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has been willing to throw money at UFC veterans to get them to fight in their promotion. This includes MacDonald, Anthony Pettis, Jeremy Stephens, Fabricio Werdum, and a few others. If the PFL is willing to throw some money at Diaz, they may entice him into a rematch with MacDonald. They may also look to book Diaz against Pettis, but MacDonald seems more likely as he would be a fresher opponent, considering Diaz and Pettis fought in 2019. It is also important to note that Diaz would not have to compete in the PFL tournament to fight Macdonald, as they have done one-offs before.