The Stockton native completed the final outing on his contract with the promotion when he took on Tony Ferguson in the headlining bout of UFC 279 last month. He was initially scheduled to take on top-ranked welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev but got paired up with Ferguson, who was on the same card against Li Jingliang after ‘Borz’ came in seven and a half pounds over the agreed weight limit.
Diaz put in an impressive performance to earn a submission finish in what could be his last showing under the UFC banner. Following the win, Diaz did not immediately become a free agent due to the inclusion of an exclusive three-month negotiation period clause.
YouTube sensation-turned-boxer Paul has been rallying to compete against Diaz, who has previously expressed interest in the prospect. First, he will need to go through MMA legend Anderson Silva, who he will fight in a boxing match later this month.
While Paul wants a matchup with Diaz, he had doubts if the UFC would let it happen despite the exit.
“I would be surprised if he actually was a free agent,” Paul told MMA Junkie. “I feel like Dana (White) has a way of tying these guys in, like hidden into the contract. That’s just how I feel about it, I don’t know if it’s true or not. But yeah, if he can actually become a free agent then I think that’s a cool fight. I would love to do that. I’m not overlooking Anderson Silva, but there’s beef between Nate Diaz and I.”
Paul Says He’s Fighting Active MMA Fighters
‘The Problem Child’ transitioned into boxing with exhibition celebrity bouts with other influencers or athletes from other sports. Paul gained notoriety after he brutally knocked out former mixed martial arts champion Ben Askren and then scored two wins over former UFC champion Tyron Woodley, including a vicious knockout that had Woodley out cold.
Paul hit back at his critics who believe he avoids fair fights and cherry-picks his opponents based on his advantages.
“He’s a big name. He went out with a bang, had an electric performance, and people are saying, ‘Oh, you’re fighting these retired MMA fighters.’ No I’m not. Anderson never retired and Nate Diaz left winning and he’s one of the baddest men on the planet. So what about fighting an active UFC fighter? What now? So that’s why I think that fight is interesting. Hopefully I get through Anderson, and hopefully Nate Diaz can get out of his contract and we’ll see if that makes sense.”
Paul Believes a Win Over Silva Would Open More Doors
A win over Silva would likely earn Paul the street cred he’s looking for. If he does not get Diaz, Paul believes he will have other opportunities to pursue.
“There are other big fights out there,” Paul said. “I think after I beat Anderson Silva, a lot more people will want to fight me. I think bigger boxers will want to fight me, and if I can beat Anderson Silva the way that I think I can, it creates this paradox. Let me explain it to you. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Canelo (Alvarez), 12-round fight, very competitive. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Anderson, Anderson wins easily. Anderson is better than Julio Cesar Chavez, which means Anderson would have been more competitive with Canelo. I beat Anderson, that makes me highly competitive with Canelo.”