Y’all must have forgotten who Nate Diaz is.
During UFC Fight Night: London, the official Twitter account of the UFC released a tweet that shook up the MMA world.
It took a while, but Nate Diaz was finally able to secure the retirement bout he was looking for. A mega-fight showdown between one of the UFC’s few bonafide superstars and one of their surging stars to be. Nobody expected this fight to happen, but now it’s official. Stockton’s own will be confronting Khamzat Chimaev in what is likely his final appearance in the UFC Octagon.
Diaz, who has one fight left on his contract, has been trying to get a fight for many months. He’s made no secret of the fact that he wants to explore other avenues, including a potential boxing match with Youtuber-turned-pugilist Jake Paul.
“They haven’t offered me anybody,” Nate stated during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour earlier this month. “I asked for a lot of fights. I asked for Luque, I asked for Tony Ferguson. I asked for like four or five people the whole time I was out…there was no going [on] their side.”
Helwani confirmed that Nate had been asking for a fight since his loss to Leon Edwards at UFC 263. He counted at least ten times that Diaz tweeted out that he was ready to go, asking for a fight that never came to fruition. “Why aren’t you getting a fight?” Helwani pondered, “you’re one of the biggest stars, you’re one of the biggest draws in the sport, in the history of the sport. Wouldn’t they be excited if that guy wants to fight? Why aren’t you getting this fight?”
In his classic candid style, Nate did not mince words in his response. “They don’t want me out of [my current] contract. They’re keeping me in there and they’re holding me hostage.” Nate went on to say that his objective is to get out of his UFC contract, something he’s wanted since he fought Ben Henderson all the way back in 2012.
Now that he finally has an opportunity to say his farewell to the UFC, reactions to the fight the matchmakers made have been mixed, to say the least. The Diaz Army came out in force to support Nate, but even some of his fans and contemporaries have joined the ranks of doubters and haters to criticize the UFC’s decision.
Spinning backfist aficionado Ben Askren had this to say:
Some were critical of the matchmaking, with a flood of doubters saying the fight made no sense.
Belal Muhammad also showed his support for Nate Diaz, as well as fellow upcoming mega-underdog Leon Edwards.
Gilbert Burns even threw his name in the hat should one of the two not be able to perform during the main event of UFC 279.
The most vocal critic has been former UFC welterweight and current MMA commentator Dan Hardy. Hardy claimed he was coming from a place of concern for Diaz, but that didn’t stop him from talking wild about the fight.
During an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, Hardy stated “It feels like we’re getting to the point where someone should start thinking about pressing charges. It doesn’t feel like a fair fight.” Hardy continued, “It feels like a very, very cruel thing to do to someone that is a legitimate legend. Because they’ve spoken out against the organization, they’re going to get executed live on TV. That’s kind of how it feels, and it makes me feel uncomfortable to think that’s the way it’s going to go down.
UFC president Dana White is no stranger to coming under fire for decisions made by the promotion, taking the time to explain to the haters why this was the fight to make.
During his press conference following Dana White’s Contenders Series 47, the UFC president said “I care about Nate a lot, I like Nate.” He continued, “Nate came in here, long before that fight was ever made, and we were talking about it being his last fight, and I said, ‘Listen, kid. You think about the wars that Nate Diaz has put on and the incredible fights and the big fights that he’s done with us, go do whatever you want to do, man.’”
When pressed about whether he thought the matchmaking was unfair, White responded by saying “it’s a good fight. It’s a fight people want to see. It’s a fight that people will be interested in, so we’re going to do it.”
For his part, it seems like Khamzat Chimaev is buying into the idea that he’s going to steamroll Nate Diaz. Good. Let him think that. As the expression goes, “f**k around and find out.”
“I just go in and smash his face. If we do striking, I knock him out, and if we go down, I submit him or smash his face, make him tap,” Khamzat claimed during an appearance on Helwani’s MMA Hour. “We’ll see, whatever, for me it doesn’t matter. I don’t have some game plan and that s***. I don’t ask my coaches, I never talk about what I’m going to do in the fight.”
Khamzat followed suit for what many fans, pundits, and fighters are doing: praising Nate for his legacy in the UFC in one breath and then completely disregarding him in this fight in the next.
““I was in school when he was fighting in the UFC. It’s amazing to fight that guy, and I like him because for me UFC, when I was young, it was like the movies. Like, I’m not going to get there, I’m just going to see it. Now, I fight with the guys that I was watching,” Chimaev stated.
Be careful what you wish for, Khamzat. If you buy into the idea that this is going to be an easy fight, you’re in for a Stockton slap awakening. Every time Nate Diaz has been counted out, he makes something happen. Don’t be surprised when Nate Diaz goes out with a W and a pocket full of cash.
Nate is a fighter who brings something to the UFC only he (and his older brother Nick) can deliver to the table. The promotion is going to regret losing him and his departure from the UFC will mark the end of an era.
Here’s to Nate Diaz reminding the haters exactly who he is.