Nate Diaz promises he’ll have a lot of opportunities awaiting him after he fights out his UFC contract on Saturday, and that could mean a potential showdown against Jake Paul.
As he prepares to fight Khamzat Chimaev in the UFC 279 main event, Diaz is approaching the matchup knowing free agency is his ultimate goal; he plans to test the open market and launch his own fight promotion in the near future.
While he doesn’t completely shut the door on a UFC return, Diaz expects to make an even bigger splash in his next endeavor. Many MMA observers believe a boxing match with Paul is a natural fit.
“I think I’ve heard a lot about a lot of stuff,” Diaz said when asked about facing Paul at UFC 279 media day. “Whatever comes after this, like I said, it’s going to be bigger than anything I’ve ever done.”
Paul started calling for a fight against Diaz long before he built himself into a 5-0 professional boxer with four knockouts on his resume.
After facing Chimaev in the main event of UFC 279, Diaz will control his own destiny as he finishes his UFC contract. A fight against Paul likely is one of the most lucrative matchups he could secure.
Of course, anything involving Paul will have to wait until after Oct. 29, when the YouTuber turned pugilist faces his toughest test to date in a showdown against UFC legend Anderson Silva, who transitioned to boxing after retiring from MMA.
In his three boxing matches since exiting the UFC, Silva has gone undefeated, earning an impressive win over multi-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He also flattened UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz in less than two minutes and dominated Bruno Machado in an exhibition bout.
That said, Silva will face Paul just months after celebrating his 47th birthday. Diaz, though, cautions anybody crazy enough to think “The Spider” can’t take out the brash young fighter.
“I didn’t like when [Anderson] fought [Julio] Cesar Chavez Jr. and I think it might have been the organization they were fighting under or whatever but they were talking all surprised that Anderson was beating Chavez Jr,” Diaz said. “Respect to Chavez Jr. and senior and all of boxing but I’m like why are they talking like it’s surprising.
“The analysts, when the fight was happening, I thought why are they acting like they’re surprised Anderson Silva was doing good? It’s like what do you even think Chavez Jr. was doing in there with Anderson Silva? They considered him the GOAT in the UFC for a long time and there was no appreciation for that. I thought that was stupid. I think they’d be stupid if they’re trying to count him out at all in this fight.”
Silva opened as a slight favorite, according to odds makers, but Diaz knows Paul has put in the work to become a legitimate boxer, which is why he’s not sleeping on a possible upset either.
“I see it going a lot of different ways,” Paul said. “I also see that Jake Paul can win or do well. He’s young, motivated, strong, inspired to box dudes. I think it makes for an interesting fight.”