Nate Diaz Has Finally Returned

Nate Diaz at UFC 241
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 17: Nate Diaz (top) punches Anthony Pettis in their welterweight bout during the UFC 241 event at the Honda Center on August 17, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Nate Diaz Has Finally Returned

Over the last three years, the idea of seeing Nate Diaz competing in the Octagon again seemed about as likely as Diaz denouncing marijuana while eating steaks with Dana White. But at UFC 241, Nate Diaz came back to the cage and displayed a vintage performance in front of a sold-out crowd. Even more impressive, he did so against a top-10-ranked former champion in Anthony Pettis. In addition to the impressive victory, Diaz also called for a fight against Jorge Masvidal. In typical Diaz-fashion, the Stockton slugger had taken over the headlines.  

Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz

The idea of Diaz/Masvidal has been kicked around by fans quite a bit as of recently. Many thought it sounded like a fun fight, but it wasn’t clear whether it could even be possible. But in the same way that he made a splash in 2015 when he defeated Michael Johnson, Diaz has put himself back at the forefront of MMA’s collective conscious. He defeated a top-ranked opponent in Pettis and called for a big fight in Masvidal during his post-fight octagon interview. It’s the exact formula that originally allowed him to face and defeat Conor McGregor. And although a third fight against McGregor would inevitably be a blockbuster event, it’s refreshing to see Diaz call for a new opponent. The matchup would undoubtedly be a worthy PPV headliner, and the lead up to the fight could become the stuff of promotional legend.  

Diaz is a Star

Nate Diaz is 34-years-old. He hasn’t seemed to slow down yet, but father time is an inevitable victor against every combat athlete. With the clock ticking, I think it’s time for the UFC to play ball. Diaz creates a wave of excitement that can no longer be denied. He doesn’t need McGregor or anybody else to be a draw. It would seem that Dana White agrees with this notion as he recently admitted that Diaz is now a ‘needle mover.’ When asked if he felt Diaz was at the superstar level of a Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, White conceded that he probably was. 

Proof of his stardom can be found in all of the media coverage he’s been receiving. On Saturday night/ Sunday morning, Nate Diaz interviews accounted for two of the top five trending videos on Youtube. Earlier this week, popular sports radio talk show host, Jim Rome spoke glowingly about Diaz for nearly ten minutes. The record-breaking California venue erupted when Diaz came out to fight at UFC 241. This has been reported by several people in attendance, including Joe Rogan and Chael Sonnen 

It’s Time to Play Ball

Now that Diaz is admittedly a star, the question must be asked—what now? Does the UFC re-negotiate his contract? Will the UFC promotional machine give Diaz it’s full backing? Do they book the Masvidal fight? And if so, what will they do to promote it? Is this matchup worthy of a promotional world tour? All of this and more remains to be seen, but one thing remains certain: MMA cannot afford another three-year hiatus away from Nate Diaz. Both ESPN and the UFC need fighters like him to generate large scale fan-interest. So if Diaz wants a fight against Jorge Masvidal, it’s time for the UFC to make some concessions and book the contest.

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