Nate Diaz has not fought in over a year, since June of 2021 when he faced Leon Edwards in a five-round welterweight battle.
Ever since, Diaz has pressed to get a fight booked, to no avail. It’s a story that has played out on social media, and now on a special Tuesday edition of The MMA Hour, with Diaz in a one-on-one with Ariel Helwani.
Asked about why he is yet to get back in the octagon, “I’ve been working on it,” Diaz replied. “A month or two went by, and I was ready to go. I asked for a simple fight, but I got held up. I’m getting held up.”
Diaz, for his part, is ready to fight, but reiterated that “I’ve been held up, since the last fight I’ve been trying to get this fight going, but they don’t wanna let me out of the contract. It’s f*cking going on and on and on.”
Noting that his preference was to fight four months after the Edwards bout, “I would have fought whenever, two months, three months afterwards,” he added. Diaz admits he had a cut after the Edwards fight, but outside of that had been healthy.
“I wasn’t pushing the issue, I figured that it just would have just kind of started happening. I don’t know why I figured that, but I figured they would keep the ball rolling, because I was already out for a while,” Diaz explained. “I realized lately that all the time I was off, they wanted me to renew my contract, but they let me be out. If I wasn’t fighting they were fine with it, because they were okay with me not fighting— because I’m still under contract. I wouldn’t be out doing something somewhere else. I think that’s where they wanted me.”
Despite being willing to fight as early as the fall of 2021, Diaz revealed that the UFC did not offer him a fight at that point.
“They haven’t offered me anybody. I’ve been asking for fights since whenever. I asked for a lot of fights. I asked for [Vicente] Luque, I asked for Tony Ferguson, I asked for four or five people, and there was no go on their side. And they finally offered me Khamzat [Chimaev], and I gave a little ‘what the f*ck?’ And then I was like ‘alright well why not, let’s just get it done with and get it over with,’ and I asked for the Khamzat fight, and then all kinds of excuses started happening.”
The Chimaev fight was widely derided online by fans, who saw it as the promotion feeding a veteran to a young up-and-comer who had been smashing his way through opponents. For Diaz, however, he just wanted to get things moving.
“I was trying to get the show on the road. They don’t want me out of contract, and they’re keeping me in and they’re holding me hostage. I want out. That’s my main objective here,” he stated.
Getting out of his contract, and the UFC in general, has been “a big objective” for Diaz since he fought Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 5 in 2012, according to the Stockton, CA native. “That’s when everything changed in the whole thing. I was like fighting, doing my thing and I wondered back then, I said to myself ‘why the f*ck did I just sign a contract for, to fight for f*cking lowball pay, for eight fights, way back then?’ For a lightweight title fight. I feel like the best fighters in the world, I feel like the best anything in the world is getting paid a lot of f*cking money. Golf, tennis, football, basketball, baseball, any sport right?”
“I feel like this is one of the hottest sports. I felt at the time in 2012, it felt like it was the most entertaining sport in the world. You’ve got football players and basketball players and actors and all these people in the stands, front row watching me fight, and I’m supposed to fight for a title for $45,000 to show and $45,000 to win.”
Diaz had immediate regrets after signing his contract at the time. Eventually, his pay was doubled or perhaps tripled, he admitted. Even quadrupled. “I was like ‘okay, that’s way better.’ But even still, I’m fighting for the number one spot in the world. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the best position anybody could be in in any sport. The best fighter in the world? That’s when everything changed for me, everything started being like ‘f*ck this and f*ck that, f*ck Reebok and f*cking everything that’s got to do with whatever you’ve got to do.'”
Since then, Diaz noted that he’s had raise after raise, but his objective all along has been to exit his contract. “That was my objective, to get out of my contract this whole time. It’s been a long time.”
Whenever Diaz asks for a fight, he added, “they offer me more money.” But he’s at a point in his life where “I don’t want any more money. I just want to depart. I’m over the whole UFC roster. As of right now, all the guys that they can offer or I’m even asking for, everybody’s been used and abused. It’s a recycled division, they’ve recycled the lightweight, welterweight divisions. All recycled guys. I feel like there’s nobody worthy, there’s no worthy opponents for me at the moment. So I want to step out for a while and recover from this whole sh*t. And when the time is right, when there’s a whole new batch of guys in here doing something good, that’s when I’ll be back.”
After 13 months, Nate Diaz appears no closer to exiting the UFC, where high-profile boxing match-ups and other opportunities potentially await. He even let slip that Dana White wanted him to retire with the company, offering even more money. Diaz, an Ultimate Fighter winner with a lengthy career in the UFC, wanted none of it. “The biggest thing that could happen for me is to depart. That’s the biggest thing in my life that I could do right now, and that’s all I want to do.”