In the fourth instalment of my Throwback Thursday series I look at the current state of Nate Diaz’s career as the UFC star has hardly been seen or heard since his defeat to Conor McGregor at UFC 202 back in August of last year.
Hardly on the same scale as “nowhereness” as the previous three athletes (Michu, Anthony Kim, Anna Kournikova) I have looked at, Diaz is still admittedly in the prime of his fighting career. But having not fought in over eight months, the question still begs to be answered: where is this guy and how will his life as a fighter play out?
Diaz was born and raised in Stockton, California. He is the brother to former UFC champion Nick.
When he was 13 years of age and working as a cook at a restaurant while simultaneously selling marijuana, his brother began learning to fight at Animal House Gym which was next door. Eventually, Diaz got involved and while his boxing skills were decent he soon fell in love with the art of jiu-jitsu.
Combine the incredible level of fitness he had acquired from competing in triathlons with his natural ability to hold his own in a street fight (growing up in Stockton he was part of a fair few) and then add some formal MMA training and you have the recipe for a very able professional scrapper.
And so in 2007, Diaz unsurprisingly won the Ultimate Fighter 5 and began his journey into professional sport.
While his actual fighting skills were never lacking, Diaz’s inability to speak clearly and use the appropriate words at the appropriate times in a sport where selling bouts was as important as winning them meant that he was never really a big draw card in the UFC.
That all changed in March of 2016 though when Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of his UFC 202 meeting with McGregor and Diaz was given the opportunity to lock horns with one of the biggest names in sport.
We are all familiar with what happens next. Diaz gets lit up but keeps moving forward and McGregor gasses himself. Fatigued, the Irishman becomes a sitting duck and Diaz lands some lusty blows before choking him out. A rematch follows and it’s some battle. Again McGregor is on target but again Diaz continues to move forward despite being struck down a number of times. On this occasion McGregor is better prepared though and is able to maintain a high level of intensity throughout the fight and narrowly wins an epic via decision.
The result of these two fights is that Diaz is now a big name in the UFC and that means he doesn’t fight at the drop of a hat anymore. Between 2008 and 2015, Diaz averaged over two fights per year in the UFC. Since January of 2016, that average has fallen below that number for the first time in his career.
Diaz insists he only wants money fights. And there will be no money fight like a trilogy with McGregor.
However, McGregor is preoccupied. After demolishing Eddie Alvarez and claiming the lightweight belt, he has intentions of facing Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. Thereafter, there is talk of him going after Tyron Woodley’s welterweight title.
And even after all that, there is no guarantee that McGregor would agree to a third fight with Diaz. Why would he? Diaz is the only fighter in the game who can get torched by a McGregor left and not just stay conscious but also keep moving forward.
Speaking in Australia while promoting his book ‘Win or Learn’, McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, revealed he felt the third fight would happen but that it would be at 155 pounds and not 170 pounds which would make life far easier for his scholar.
“For me the trilogy has to happen,” Kavanagh said.
“That’s the fight for me. Definitely at 155. I don’t think Nate is going to have the same superpower he does at 170 – that ability to walk through shots.
“He’s done a lot of rounds with Conor and taken a lot of punishment – there is a timeline on that.
“You can only walk through punches for so long.
“At 155 I think he will struggle to make that weight, first of all and if he does make 155 and Conor cracks him like that, I do think there will be a stoppage.”
So where in the world is Nate Diaz? He’s waiting for a fight with McGregor. And if that fight doesn’t materialise, I don’t think we’ll see him in the octagon again.