While Nate Diaz made his return in 2019 and fought for the first time in three years, his brother Nick Diaz has been out for a long period of time. A former UFC title contender and a Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Nick Diaz was one of the promotion's biggest stars from 2011 to 2015, despite just fighting once a year.
His last three fights were defeats, but the opponents he lost to were Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre, and Anderson Silva. While he originally lost the last bout to Anderson Silva, the contest was overturned after the Brazilian failed a doping test. Interestingly enough, Nick Diaz also tested positive for Marijuana.
For three to four years, Nick Diaz had to battle USADA for his suspension term. His initial five-year suspension turned into 18 months from early 2015 and he then served another one-year suspension for not notifying USADA about his whereabouts.
In September, it was revealed that Nick Diaz began training again and looked in top shape, ready for a return to the Octagon. His manager Kevin Mubenga reaffirmed this on the Fight Game Chronicles podcast (H/T BJPENN.com), stating that Nick Diaz has been training for months in anticipation of a return:
“The guys have been training, he has been training for at least four months straight… We were two months in by that time, that was August or September where he was going two months hard,” Mubenga said about Nick Diaz. “Now, we are in December, so, he is four or five months in. But, he took a little break because he didn’t want to train and over exhaust it. Took a little break last month and now we are going to pick it back up in December. And, go into the New Year with a deal done and make sure the money is right and the opponent is right and we will be able to move forward. That is all it is.”
After revealing that they're looking to get the right deal done, Mubenga said that there's a "99.9%" chance of Nick Diaz's return to the Octagon in 2021:
“Percent next year? 99.9 percent chance,” he added.
Who will welcome Nick Diaz back to the Octagon?
It's going to be interesting to see where Nick Diaz stands after six years away from the Octagon. The Welterweight division landscape has changed entirely and it's stacked with talent, particularly in the Top 5. It's considered one of the most dangerous divisions in the UFC, perhaps only second to the Lightweight.
Nick Diaz may not be a favorite against any opponent he faces, but most fighters in the Top 10 will be clamoring for a bout with him, even if it doesn't necessarily get them closer to a title shot.
However, Nick Diaz is a superstar with name value and the UFC will have a lot of options for his return opponent.