One of the sports biggest personalities and polarizing figures may be in line for a highly anticipated return to action this summer, as Stockton son Nate Diaz is reportedly in talks with the Ultimate Fighting Championship regarding a lightweight Octagon walk, after over 18 months away from the sport.
Diaz of course last featured in August 2016, losing a close majority decision to fierce foe Conor McGregor in their five round UFC 202 headliner. Cesar Gracie trainee Diaz was briefly speculated with a siege of welterweight best Tyron Woodley’s title, a bout which ultimately failed to come to fruition late last year. Talks are not believed to be finalized as of yet, but a rumored match up between Eddie Alvarez or Dustin Poirier is on the horizon.
A hugely talented Jiu-Jitsu player, particularly off his back, Nate also represents a tough puzzle on the feet. A stiff boxing typical Southpaw stance allows the younger Diaz brother to maintain range and setup slick one-twos with stinging effect. The Ultimate Fighter victor holds impressive names in his win column, picking up decision wins over UFC stalwart Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, and featherweight striker Michael Johnson, along with submission victories over Jim Miller, PRIDE lightweight best Takanori Gomi, a memorable triangle win over Kurt Pellegrino, Manny Gamburyan and Melvin Guillard.
Undeniably, Nate’s rise to his current stardom was propelled no end by not only his short notice replacing of Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196 against then featherweight champion Conor McGregor, but his survival of a one sided first round to find his range after the first buzzer, hurting Conor on the feet, forcing ‘The Notorious’ into a frail double leg. Diaz subsequently sprawled, searched for a guillotine before McGregor gave up mount. Posturing up, Nate landed big from the top, with Conor eventually rolling to his back giving up his neck to a vice like rear-naked choke.
Inflicting McGregor’s premier UFC defeat to date, Nate accepted a rematch, again at welterweight, and after a failed pairing at UFC 200, both men finally clashed at UFC 202. Implementing a less shot heavy and more volume conservative display, McGregor landed an early first round knockdown, followed by two quickfire left hands in the second to force Nate to the canvas for a third time. Nate recovered as so often with both himself and Nick, to pressure Conor for two, arguably three rounds, before the judges awarded the Dubliner a majority decision victory, with a rubber match now on the cards.
The rumored August return could come at UFC 227, with a bantamweight rematch between T.J. Dillashaw and former Team Alpha Male teammate Cody Garbrandt serving as the main event. Older brother Nick Diaz has also been linked with a huge octagon return after a USADA whereabouts violation was recently cleared up by Jeff Novitsky. It is unclear as of yet if both Diaz brothers will compete on the same card, but with the UFC’s TV deal up for grabs, a Diaz double header would boost ranking considerably.