Nick Diaz is purportedly mapping out a return to MMA for early next year. This revelation came via a pair of tweets from ESPN’s Ariel Helwani who was having a conversation with Diaz’s manager.
… he is keeping a close eye on the big welterweight fights coming up. He is “100%” planning on fighting again, per Mubenga, and is targeting an early 2021 return. (📽 @elfrogito)
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 7, 2020
The former Strikeforce welterweight champion/ former UFC welterweight title challenger certainly has options to come back to at 170 pounds. Although the Stockton native has not been a stranger to middleweight and in fact, his last fight was at 185 pounds against Anderson Silva. That UFC 183 main event marked Nick Diaz’s last time competing which was in January 2015. The former WEC titlist certainly has a myriad of opponent options should he return to the cage and I’ve outlined a handful of fun ones below.
Nick Diaz Opponent Options
If Diaz decides to go the middleweight route in his return, this matchup makes a degree of sense. Till has already taken to his social media to indicate interest in fighting the elder Diaz brother. The lead up to this fight would be massively entertaining. I think the two could put on a supremely entertaining fight too. They’re angling for a bout with Jack Hermansson and Till towards the end of this year. Depending on if this goes down and how long Till would need to recover, this Diaz fight could conceivably be done whether Darren Till wins or loses.
Robbie Lawler rematch
This is a rematch that a certain segment of the online MMA community seems to be discussing a fair bit. This would be one of the better matchups to appease those MMA fans who are adamantly against Diaz fighting anyone in the top ten for either 170 or 185. A lot has changed for the pair of pugilists since their initial meeting in April 2004. It will be curious to see if this is the kind of matchup that the promotion envisions for Diaz in his return. It doesn’t necessarily coincide with what seem to be Diaz’s plans of jumping back into the upper end of the 170-pound class.
Jorge Masvidal for the BMF title
The storyline elements for this one are pretty obvious. Nick Diaz looking for revenge against Masvidal for putting it on the younger Diaz. Talks of a Nick Diaz return began stirring up after that inaugural BMF title fight with the elder Diaz seeming impassioned about possibly throwing down with Street Jesus. The promotion seems to be targeting Nate Diaz vs Jorge Masvidal II but the matchup with Nick is something that could still be on the table in the future. It would be a combustible stylistic match that looks like a barnburner on paper. One that would fire up both men, presumably.
Nick Diaz vs Woodley or Covington
One could presume that this is one of the upcoming welterweight fights that Diaz is keeping an eye on, per his manager. With this Tyron Woodley vs Colby Covington fight going down on September 19th, the timeline would make sense for the winner to clash with Diaz in early 2021. The UFC could also try to position Diaz opposite the loser of this bout and that would still make sense too. It depends on how the matchmakers and those internal to the UFC want to handle Nick Diaz in his comeback prizefight.
This might be the least likely matchup to come to fruition but it’s a compelling one, in my estimation. Edwards is in a frustrating position. He’s highly ranked in the division, has an impressive win streak, but seems to have a ceiling imposed on him in terms of which caliber of fights he’s offered. The winner of a possible Diaz vs Edwards bout could very well be jettisoned into that next title challenger position by the promotion. This would also be a blockbuster type of matchup that Edwards deserves but has been largely deprived of by the UFC.