Sunday, January 23, 2022

Is Nate Diaz the Most Wanted Man in the UFC?

Over the past few years, it seems like everyone has wanted a piece of Conor McGregor. He is by far the most popular fighter on the UFC roster, and a fight against him usually means a big paycheck. Fighters from all different weight divisions have been calling him out from bantamweight all the way up to middleweight. However, last Saturday night as McGregor laid on the canvas of the Octagon having been just beaten by Dustin Poirier, there may have started a shift in drawing power towards Nate Diaz.

News that Nate Diaz would be looking to return to the UFC lightweight division began to circulate prior to UFC 257. Immediately fighters began to call for a match with Diaz. Dana White was the man to announce that Diaz was coming back and that he had an opponent in mind. Some thought maybe Justin Gaejthe or Tony Ferguson, but no mention of the bout has been made yet.

Dustin Poirier has stated he would like a shot at Nate Diaz, even though he may be the highest-ranked fighter in the division. He could have his choice of potentially anyone, so why Diaz? Diaz has been out for over a year, and he isn’t in line for a title shot, and yet he brings the viewers and the money.

The Diaz brothers are fan favorites. Nick and Nate have a hard look and attitude about them. They might represent an “old school” mentality when it comes to UFC fighters. They are not going to hug a potential opponent and exchange hot sauce and whiskey like Poirier and McGregor. He wants to fight, make money, and walk away. He is in a position to do just that, especially now with the spotlight on him.

Nate Diaz has many options right now. Those calling his name range from Poirier, Gaethje, McGregor, and even Jake Paul. Paul says he wants to box Diaz after his bout with Ben Askren. Diaz’s last outing at UFC 244 when he lost to Jorge Masvidal for the BMF title was exactly what he needed following the McGregor fights. He keeps raising his stock with these huge human interest fights. So if he is looking for money and not exactly a title run, then maybe McGregor of Masvidal rematches are the way to go. If a title run is in the cards, then Poirier or Gaethje.

Another option is Khabib Nurmagomedov himself. He is technically still the champion, and although he is not wanting a fight right now, an impressive win in Nate Diaz’s next outing could be enticing. There are factors here, though. Diaz would need to face someone in the top five. He would need a win, and Nurmagomedov would need to want to come back. If Diaz gets a win over, let’s say, Poirier or Gaethje, Nurmagomedov coming back to face Diaz could be worth his while. Nurmagomedov would be a heavy favorite over Diaz, but it would be a moneymaker and get him to 30 fights in his career.

While McGregor is on the sidelines licking his wounds, Nate Diaz is the man that everyone wants. He may not be as flashy as McGregor or as widely known in non-MMA circles, but he is known enough, thanks in large part to McGregor and their bouts together.

If Diaz had never stepped in against McGregor at UFC 196 and defeated him, perhaps things would be much different. Perhaps Diaz could have lost his luster in the eyes of the fans. After all, his record isn’t that shiny. A 4-5 record could have sent him sailing as many other fighters of his era. But no, in spite of all his imperfections, Nate Diaz continues to draw the attention that the UFC desires from their fighters perhaps more than anyone else.

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