UFC: The Best (And Worst) Options For Nick Diaz’s Return Fight

Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz Credit: Marcus Rebelo/Cageside Press

Former Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz’s octagon return seems inevitable, but who would be the best and worst options for his return?

Well, it finally seems like it’s going to happen.

After seemingly a thousand suspensions, multiple rumored bouts, and one big appearance at UFC 261, former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz will seemingly return to the octagon soon, after six years away from the cage. With Dana White even meeting with Diaz after the event and saying he would be willing to give him a fight, it’s clear something is in the air. With multiple callouts from multiple reputable fighters already, let’s run down the best and worst contenders to face Diaz in his comeback fight.

Best: Jorge Masvidal (#5 at Welterweight, last lost to Kamaru Usman at UFC 261) 

This one writes itself, so let’s get it out of the way.

Nick Diaz first said he wanted to come back in November of 2019 in an interview with Ariel Helwani. The main reason being that he saw how badly Jorge Masvidal had defeated his little brother Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 244. Diaz said he wanted to return in 2020, however, COVID-19 obviously derailed those plans and besides, Masvidal had business to deal with Kamaru Usman in the meantime.

Well, now Masvidal no longer has any business with Usman after losing two straight to the champ, most recently at UFC 261 via a brutal knockout. Diaz was there ringside to see it firsthand, and Masvidal even came out this past week to say he was down for a Nick Diaz fight. “Gamebred” would obviously need some time to heal, however, once he comes back the Diaz fight makes all the sense in the world. It gives Masvidal a big name to possibly get back into the win column with and gives Diaz a chance to jump back into the mix at the top of 170 pounds.

The reason why the UFC may not want to book this one is twofold though, one is that Mas isn’t an up and comer. The UFC traditionally likes to take legends like Diaz and attempt to feed them to a young fighter in order to boost their credibility; Masvidal doesn’t need that. The other reason is that it’s possible the UFC may not want to throw Diaz to the wolves immediately, and Masvidal is a fighter coming off of back-to-back title shots.

Worst: Khazmat Chimaev (#15 at Welterweight, last defeated Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11)

In the same post-fight press conference where Dana White said that he would give Nick Diaz a return fight, he also mentioned that Khazmat Chimaev was a possibility, much to the chagrin of seemingly everyone.

Look, the UFC has been trying to give Chimaev a big fight for a while now with multiple Leon Edwards bookings having fallen through for various reasons. Chimaev has been earmarked by the UFC to be their next big star, and for good reason. He talks trash, has an entertaining style, and has been rising up the ranks as fast as we’ve ever seen a UFC fighter do. The UFC seemingly wants to use Chimaev as a successor to Khabib Nurmagovmedov: in a way, they both have similar styles, trash talk, and style, and a win over Nick Diaz would go a long way in helping that star grow.

However, that doesn’t mean we need him to fight Nick Diaz, in fact, it’s the opposite. Chimaev is going to be a star regardless, he’s already rising super quickly. We don’t need him to fight a 37-year-old Nick Diaz who hasn’t fought in six years. It likely won’t be close, and it also won’t help us gauge where Chimaev stands in the division due to us not knowing where Diaz stands at this point in his career.

We really don’t need this one. Please, anyone else.