If fans could pick a fantasy matchup for UFC superstar Conor McGregor, the name Nick Diaz is typically in the conversation. Diaz is the older brother of Nate Diaz, one of “Notorious'” most famous rivals, and he has a storied career in MMA with over 35 professional bouts and winning the Strikeforce welterweight belt. And according to a report by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Nick Diaz is planning to make a return to fighting in 2021.
Helwani spoke with Diaz’s manager Kevin Mubenga who confirmed that Diaz had just finished a 14-week diet and training program. Helwani shared a video on Sunday night of a trim Diaz who was weighing between 165 to 175 pounds.
This is Nick Diaz earlier today. He weighs in the 175-165 pound range, per his manager Kevin Mubenga.
He just completed a 14-week diet and training regimen. This is the first time he cuts weight in approximately four years, Mubenga said. Diaz wanted to do a test cut because … pic.twitter.com/5A8EvyLeUn
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 7, 2020
According to Helwani, Diaz completed the test weight cut because he is looking at a possible welterweight return, paying attention to upcoming high-profile welterweight matches. Mubenga told the journalist that Diaz is “‘100% planning on fighting again” and hopes to make his return in early 2021.
McGregor vs. Nick Diaz Would Be a Blockbuster UFC Event
Enter Conor McGregor.
If the UFC and Diaz can come to terms for the fighter’s comeback bout, a match with Notorious would be massive. There is a built-in storyline that fans are already behind and their fighting styles would likely ensure an electric bout.
McGregor has fought Nate Diaz twice, winning the second fight by majority decision. During the promotion for both fights, there was an immense amount of trash talk between Notorious and Nate Diaz and the bad blood has not died down.
Nick Diaz got involved with his brother and McGregor’s beef during the promotion of UFC 202. During a press conference for their second fight, McGregor got into a water bottle throwing showdown with both Nick and Nate Diaz. Watch the video below:
Although Notorious has said he is retired from MMA, many believe McGregor is only taking a hiatus from the sport and intends to return to action. A possible fight with the older brother of one of his biggest rivals may be enough for McGregor to glove up in 2021.
Diaz has not fought since his 2015 bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 183 and he has a professional MMA record of 26-9 and two no contests. His boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu would be a fun test for Notorious, just like Nate Diaz’s similar style was.
They would likely clash at welterweight, and although there would be very little divisional stakes, the star power and backstory between Diaz and Notorious is enough to make it a worthwhile match for both fighters.
The Timing for Diaz & McGregor May Line Up Very Well
From a timing standpoint, fighting Diaz next makes a lot of sense for McGregor if the Irishman has aspirations to return in early 2021. Notorious, who is ranked No. 4 at lightweight, likely wants to compete against a massive name or a top lightweight for his possible comeback fight and a lot of potential opponents are linked to other fighters.
Nate Diaz is in talks to fight another star, Jorge Masvidal, in January, according to multiple reports. Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is scheduled to defend his belt against interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje on October 24 at UFC 254. Nurmagomedov has also expressed interest in fighting Georges St-Pierre should he defeat Gaethje.
If Gaethje beats Nurmagomedov and becomes champion, Notorious may try to insert himself as the next title challenger.
Two fighters ranked ahead of McGregor, No. 2 Dustin Poirier and No. 3 Tony Ferguson, have been linked to a possible fight, according to UFC president Dana White. A date for the potential clash has not been confirmed, however White said it could “probably” take place during UFC 254.
If Notorious doesn’t have an interest in fighting for a top lightweight contender spot against the winner of Poirier vs. Ferguson, a fight Nick Diaz may be the best alternative for the Irishman.
For Diaz, if he’s looking for a high-profile fight at welterweight, it doesn’t get any bigger than McGregor.
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Diaz Is Paying Attention to Upcoming Welterweight Matches, According to Helwani
As per Helwani’s report, Diaz is paying attention to the notable welterweight fights coming up in the near future. Although it wasn’t revealed which matches Diaz is interested in, there are a few significant fights taking place before the end of the year.
For example. No. 2 ranked Colby Covington is fighting No. 5 ranked Tyron Woodley on September 19 during UFC Fight Night. Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is linked to a fight with No. 1 ranked Gilbert Burns which may take place at UFC 256 on December 12, however the fight has not been officially confirmed by the promotion.