Nate Diaz’s fight with Khamzat Chimaev promises to be one of the biggest of 2022, but it’s also the final one on Diaz’s contract with the UFC – so afterwards, should he stay with the promotion or leave?
As always, there are a number of arguments either way, and at the end of the day, only Diaz himself can decide his future.
Here are five reasons why Nate Diaz should leave the UFC – and five reasons why he should stay.
#5. Nate Diaz is past his prime and has nothing to prove
If Nate Diaz does choose to leave the UFC following his bout with Khamzat Chimaev, there’s a chance that he might choose to retire from MMA altogether.
Would this decision be justified? Absolutely. After all, the TUF 5 winner has been around for a long time now, having debuted in the octagon way back in the summer of 2007. Since then, Diaz has fought on 26 occasions in some of the biggest fights of all time, making him a true veteran of the game.
However, at this point, he’s basically got nothing else to prove. Sure, he’s never won a UFC title, but he’s come closer than most, having challenged for the lightweight crown in 2012, and holds wins over two former UFC champions: Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis.
More importantly, though, he’s 37-years-old, is past his athletic prime. In his most recent fights, he hasn’t looked anywhere near his best. If he sticks around, it’s likely that all he’ll do is harm his own legacy.
Therefore, it could easily be argued that the correct decision for him would be to leave the UFC after his bout with Khamzat Chimaev – and leave MMA behind altogether.
#4. Nate Diaz should walk away before he gets badly hurt
Jorge Masvidal’s finish of Nate Diaz was a doctor’s stoppage – he's too tough for his own good. While Diaz hasn’t suffered many bad knockouts during his lengthy career – the only man to stop him via strikes is Josh Thomson.
Countless aging fighters have suffered a brutal fate in the twilight of their career. At the age of 37, Diaz is going to be closer than ever to suffering a bad knockout.
Could that bad loss come this weekend at the hands of Khamzat 'Borz' Chimaev? It’s definitely possible given Chimaev’s skills and brutal punching power.
#3. If he wants to continue fighting, there may be better opportunities elsewhere
Despite retirement perhaps being a good idea, there’s a chance that Nate Diaz will want to continue fighting regardless of how he fares against Khamzat Chimaev this weekend. So could his future lie in a rival promotion to the UFC?
It’s definitely a possibility. He’d definitely find himself under the spotlight regardless of his destination. Whether Diaz would move to Bellator MMA, the PFL, ONE FC or perhaps even promote himself is a question only time will answer.
He’d instantly become a star in whichever promotion he lands. Bellator, for instance, would treat him like a superstar and build shows around him far more than the UFC would right now. According to Corey Anderson, ex-UFC heavyweight, Bellator pays far more than the UFC.
However, the idea of Diaz promoting himself might be the most interesting. This week has seen him announce a new promotion called ‘Real Fight Inc’, and so to see him look to headline his promotion's early shows wouldn’t be a surprise.
#2. Leaving the UFC would mean Nate Diaz wouldn’t have to fight one killer after another
Given that he’s been in the UFC for well over a decade now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nate Diaz has faced a laundry list of absolute killers in his time with the promotion.
Not only has he squared off with the likes of Conor McGregor, Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal in recent years, but he fought top fighters like Donald Cerrone, Benson Henderson and Jim Miller in his earlier years too.
Despite his advanced age, judging by his next fight – which is set to go down this weekend against surging prospect Khamzat Chimaev – it’s unlikely that the UFC would be willing to give him any easier fights if he were to stick around.
The promotion would suck every ounce of his stardom and try to inject it into its up-and-coming fighters.
Therefore, it might be a better idea for the Stockton-based fighter to leave the promotion and move elsewhere, if only to fight easier opponents for once.
Some fans would probably frown upon this, but at the age of 37, Diaz probably needs somewhat of a step down in competition after fighting the very best for well over a decade.
#1. The UFC doesn’t seem to fully respect Nate Diaz
If the UFC were willing to treat their pioneers with respect, then perhaps company loyalty would be an issue for Diaz. However, the Dana White led prootion is all business, and recently even sued one of its legends in Michael Bisping for copyright infringement.
However, even Bisping is a color commentator for the UFC right now. Nothing like that has ever been offered to Diaz. In fact, he’s never even been given a chance to coach on The Ultimate Fighter.
Obviously, Dana White and company don’t feel that they can trust Diaz to tow the company line – and to be fair, he has come off like a loose cannon in the past, particularly when it comes to his marijuana use.
However, where the promotion has seemed to bend over backwards for Conor McGregor and Jorge Masvidal, who have courted just as much controversy as Diaz. It seems that the UFC simply doesn’t respect the Stockton-based fighter all that much, despite his wild popularity.
Despite there being a number of reasons for Nate Diaz to want to leave the UFC, there are also a number of valid reasons for him to stay with the promotion after this weekend. Let's take a closer look.
#5. The UFC remains the world’s biggest MMA promotion and has all the prestige
While the UFC’s treatment of its fighters may not always be viewed upon very fondly by fans, the promotion always has one trump card to pull when it comes to attracting athletes to its roster, and that’s the fact that it’s the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
Essentially, being part of the UFC offers far more prestige and spotlight to a fighter than if they compete in promotions like Bellator or the PFL. Even big names like Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture found this out when they decided to abandon the UFC ship for fresh pastures.
Both Ortiz and Couture strongly considered leaving the UFC. But despite their grievances with Dana White, they both returned on more than one occasion, sensing that their legacy would be better off for it.
With that in mind, could it actually be better for Nate Diaz to stay with the UFC? If he leaves, he’d almost certainly be erased from their history books for the most part. But if he were to stay, then he’d almost certainly be hailed as a legend and inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
It would go a long way in cementing his status in MMA’s pantheon, which surely should mean something to a lifelong fighter like him.
#4. There’s still a lot of money to be made for Nate Diaz in the UFC
While prestige and a strong legacy are all well and good, for a true prizefighter like Nate Diaz, the whole point of competing in the octagon is to make the most money possible.
Diaz might think that he can make plenty of money without the UFC, he’s better off staying with the promotion if he wants to maximize his earnings.
Sure, the UFC doesn’t pay as much as it could to its fighters, but it remains the highest-paying MMA promotion when it comes to the sport’s biggest stars, of which Diaz is definitely one.
More to the point, the amount of so-called “money fights” that the Stockton-based fighter could pursue in the octagon remains high. We haven’t seen him fight Colby Covington, for instance, and he also hasn’t faced big-name lightweights like Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson who’d be chomping at the bit to fight Diaz at 170lbs. A Conor McGregor trilogy, too, doesn't sound too bad.
If Diaz really wants to make the most money possible before he hangs up the gloves for good, the best option for him is to ink a new deal with the UFC and pursue those fights while they’re still on the table.
#3. Nate Diaz hasn’t taken too much damage over the years
While no one could begrudge Nate Diaz deciding to hang up his gloves at the age of 37, the truth is that he hasn’t actually taken as much damage over the years as some of his contemporaries.
Robbie Lawler and Tony Ferguson, for instance, simply can’t weather the kind of punishment that they once could, and even Diaz’s older brother Nick seemed unable to absorb too much damage in his most recent bout.
Nate, on the other hand, might get cut easily these days, but his chin still seems very durable, to the point that he was able to go five rounds with Leon Edwards and even survived a couple of knockdowns from Jorge Masvidal in their bout.
Essentially, while he isn’t the same fighter he was at his peak, Diaz isn’t completely broken down just yet. Against everyone but the very best fighters, he’d still be more than competitive. Therefore, there’s reason for him to stick around for a while yet and chase the biggest "money fights" in the UFC.
#2. There is a lack of meaningful fights for Nate Diaz elsewhere
Sadly, there aren't very many big-name welterweights outside the UFC for Nate Diaz to face.
Bellator’s welterweight champion is Yaroslav Amosov – a relatively unknown fighter– and while there might be some interest in seeing Diaz fight Michael ‘Venom’ Page, nobody would likely be interested in fights between Diaz and Jason Jackson or Douglas Lima.
The PFL, meanwhile, offers fighters a chance to earn big money, but its roster is remarkably thin and there’s literally not one interesting fight for Diaz there.
Essentially, if Diaz were to leave the UFC, then he’d be left to fight opponents that few care about – unlike the huge names that he could slap inside the octagon. With that in mind, it’s almost a no-brainer for him to stay with the UFC.
#1. Nate Diaz still has unfinished business with Conor McGregor
Perhaps the biggest reason for Nate Diaz to sign a new deal with the UFC is the fact that it’s the only place where he’ll be able to settle the score with Conor McGregor. Put simply, despite neither man being at the top of their game, a third fight between them would be absolutely huge.
Diaz and McGregor famously faced-off twice back in 2016, with the Stockton-based fighter pulling off a huge upset in their first meeting before ‘The Notorious’ avenged his loss in an instant classic five months later.
Since then, a potential trilogy bout has always been spoken about, but the UFC has never been able to book it. If they could, though, there’s no doubt that it’d pop a huge buyrate on pay-per-view, and could even match the numbers produced by McGregor’s 2018 bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov, which drew over two million buys.
Naturally, a fight that big would make an insane amount of money for the Irishman and for Diaz, so it’s hard to believe that they haven’t pushed for it yet.
With both men’s fortunes on the down-low, though, the trilogy fight may finally make sense at some point in 2023.
Sure, they’d make far more money outside of the confines of the UFC, but while Diaz is out of contract after this weekend, McGregor isn’t – meaning that the octagon is the only place that this fight could happen.
Essentially then, if Diaz wants a career-high payday before he departs from the sport, he’s got to stick with the UFC.
Do check out this special video on Nate Diaz: