Nate Diaz will face Khamzat Chimaev in the main event of UFC 279 this weekend, in what is widely expected to be the Stockton native’s final fight for the UFC.
But as the date draws nigh, Diaz insists that it’s a fight he didn’t want, didn’t ask for — and he still doesn’t want it.
Those comments were made in an interview with ESPN, and should not come as a particular surprise to anyone following Diaz’s plight over the past year. The popular welterweight was campaigning for a fight with Dustin Poirier for some time, and looking to fight out his contract with the UFC and explore free agency. The UFC, meanwhile, was hell-bent on signing a contract extension with one of its biggest, albeit it rarely active, stars.
Unable to strong-arm Diaz into a new deal after he went public with the contract dispite, the promotion turned to the Chimaev match-up, one that had previously been offered. The Chimaev fight was initially turned down by Diaz, though he later accepted it in order to finally be done with the company.
Ahead of UFC 279, however, Nate Diaz believes the UFC are acting like he wanted the fight.
“What they’ve got me doing right now is they’re acting like I called for this fight, which I didn’t call for, and I don’t want, and didn’t want, and still don’t want,” Diaz told ESPN this week. “But I don’t give a f*ck, I’ll fight anybody. But the pressure’s on him — he better finish me, because he’s the next killer in town.”
As Diaz went on to point out, “if I whoop his ass, they’re going to say, ‘Oh, he wasn’t the best in town.’ But they’re not going to let me go [without fighting Chimaev]. I asked for 20 fights, 10 fights, 15 fights.”
“This fight is not even about this guy. It’s about making this guy,” Diaz added, in essence suggesting the fight is another in a longstanding UFC practice of building new stars off of old ones. “It’s about making this motherf*cker, right? And I’m like, OK, well, you guys aren’t going to let me go because I’m the best fighter here, and you’re not going to let me go unless it’s off of somebody? I’ve got to make somebody for you? Well, alright — you’re welcome. Let’s make you. You’re welcome, UFC. You’re welcome, Dubai. You’re welcome, all you motherf*ckers in your country. You’re welcome. This is just my halftime show. I’m just getting started.”
Outside of the UFC, a lucrative opportunity awaits for Diaz to compete against the likes of Jake Paul in boxing. Diaz also just announced the launch of his own fight promotion.
No doubt aware he is a considerable underdog in the fight, Diaz also found the idea of an upset an entertaining one. “If I f*cking ruin it — that’s what you get for playing with me for too long.”