Nate Diaz has been pushing the UFC almost nonstop to book the final fight on his contract. Chael Sonnen sees no reason to hold him back.
The three-time UFC title challenger and media savant used Diaz’s two-time opponent, Conor McGregor, as a prime example of why it’s not a great idea to wait for the perfect time or the perfect matchup to get a star back in the octagon.
“If we made any mistake as a community, 2020, which seems like yesterday, but we had Conor McGregor, the sport’s biggest star, who was raring to go, to the point that on Jan. , they created an event, and event that didn’t even exist – they sold it out in less than 48 hours [for McGregor] to take on [Donald] ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone,” Sonnen said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “This was a massive star, and to preserve the idea that we might get Conor vs. Khabib [Nurmagomedov] 2, we put him on ice, and Conor was ready to go. It was a huge mistake and we should have learnt from it. I see the same thing with Diaz. I know there’s more to the story and there’s contracts, but when you have this massive star who’s ready to go, I think you turn him loose.”
As Sonnen acknowledged, there’s definitely more to the story. Diaz indicated that he is ready to continue his career in combat sports. This could be a match with Jake Paul (youtuber and boxer), or another MMA promotion. The UFC, meanwhile, wants to re-sign Diaz to a new contract and may be holding up negotiations until that bit of business gets done.
The possibility of Diaz meeting McGregor is also possible. This trio has seemed almost inevitable in the near future. McGregor is still recovering from his broken leg in the last fight. This puts the date for McGregor’s fight at risk.
So far it has been a standoff between Diaz & the UFC. It’s resulted in a lot of complaints by the fighter and a few public comments. (And a booking against Khamzat Chimaev UFC 276, if the promotions’ booking calendars can be believed).
If Diaz wants to box with Paul in the end, it is highly unlikely that this will happen due to the UFC participation. Former UFC executive turned Paul partner Nakisa Bidiar has had a public feud with Paul. The UFC boss Dana White, the UFC president, has also been hostile towards more cross-over boxing matches with UFC fighters. In other words, Sonnen says, Diaz may need to take care of business with the UFC before he starts planning his next step.
“I get where [Diaz vs. Paul] would work and where that would be wonderful, but is that actually something that behind the scenes Jake Paul has said, ‘Yes, get free and we’re going to box each other?'” Sonnen said. Is it a certain thing? It’s almost like Francis [Ngannou] tried to get his hands on [Tyson] Fury, but it was too much. Is it certain that you have a bird in your hand? ?”
In the case of Ngannou, the answer is almost certainly going to be yes. The UFC heavyweight champion has said his contract will expire by the end of this year whether or not he fights, and he’ll be a free agent. Diaz might not have the same flexibility, so he will need to continue working with the UFC. Sonnen suggests the Stockton, Calif., does just that – and the UFC does likewise.