Nate Diaz wasn’t one of the numerous fighters who hit up the UFC to step in against Conor McGregor this week after Rafael dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from UFC 196, but he got fight anyway when the UFC came calling. As he tells it, Diaz was trying to get himself on a track to face Georges St-Pierre in his expected return, but was more than happy to step in against McGregor when the opportunity arose.
In an interview with Layzie the Savage at BJPenn.com, Diaz talked about what he was looking for in 2016, and why those plans were already not including the lightweight division.
“I had just told Dana White, ‘I’m going to 170 lbs,'” Diaz said. “I’m not fighting these guys. Pettis, dos Anjos, Alvarez and all those guys, all these scary-ass guys don’t want to fight me. So, what the hell am I going to do, sit around the division and wait for a fight? So, it’s all good, I’m going to go up to 170 then, start eating. I texted that [to] Dana. We were talking the day before they called me [to offer the McGregor fight].
“I said, ‘I’m trying to get the GSP fight,’ because I heard he’s coming back. He said, ‘Oh, I think he wants to fight Lawler.’ And then he called me the next day [saying] ‘I told you to stay in shape, I told you to stay in shape and keep your weight down because something might come up.’ I was like, ‘What’s up?’ He told me that McGregor wanted to fight so I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’
“He said, ‘You just told me you were 200 pounds,'” Diaz continued, laughing. “And, I said, ‘I lied. So, let’s get this 155 thing going and get it cracking.’ He was like, ‘Alright, don’t say s***, we’re going to make it happen.’ I was like, ‘alright.’
“I didn’t call like all them other fighters and beg for a fight. McGregor was asking for me, they were asking for me. There’s no other way, There’s no McGregor show. It’s the fight that needed to happen.”
Penick’s Analysis: This is a big spot for Diaz. If he beats McGregor, he’s got the biggest, most relevant win he’s had in years, and sets himself up for other big fights in the future. That GSP fight could potentially be viable (and this is one of the first close-to-the-conversation anecdotes of White discussing a GSP return against Lawler), but that would be down the line. Regardless, if Diaz comes into Las Vegas on short notice and beats McGregor, it’s hugely meaningful for him, and even if he loses it’s to a champion and the biggest current star in the sport. This is a no-lose spot for him in that regard, so I’d expect he’ll get further consideration for some bigger spots later in the year regardless of what happens Saturday night.
[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]
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