When UFC lightweight contender Nate Diaz (16-7, MMA) came on the MMA Fight Corner Wednesday night, he made his vision of what the UFC’s lightweight division’s future match-ups should be crystal clear- and it includes him never wanting to fight Frankie Edgar or Gilbert Melendez.
With his submission win on UFC on FOX 3′s card last Saturday over Jim Miller, Diaz was glad he didn’t get handled by Miller inside the Octagon. “I prepared as well as I could. I have good training partners and a good fight team. It could have gone that way, or another way, I’m just glad it went that way.”
Diaz now has the choice to wait to fight the winner of the Frankie Edgar-Benson Henderson rematch for the title, or to take on former WEC Champion Anthony Pettis in what would be a title eliminator. The decision most likely depends on how soon Diaz would want to get back in and fight. If he waits for the rematch to happen, he could be on the shelf for nearly nine months. But if he fights Pettis, it could be just months away.
Regardless of who he’ll have to face next, there’s one scenario that Nate wants to steer clear of…and that’s to avoid fighting Ricardo Almeida trained Frankie Edgar. Almeida was Renzo Gracie’s former prodigy . Renzo Gracie and Cesar Gracie are cousins.
“I would rather fight Henderson, because I gotta lot of respect for Frankie.” Diaz explained that Frankie “trains with some people that are affiliated with my team, so I’d definitely rather fight Ben.” Before the next question was finished being asked, Diaz reiterated, “I don’t wanna fight Frankie. I wanna fight Ben.”
While Diaz said he’s not going to pick and choose who he fights next, he mentioned one priority he does have, “I’m taking whatever fight that they offer me…I’ll still fight whoever they want me to, but I’m gonna take the fight that pays better. I been getting paid pretty good for awhile, but I’m ready to up my stock. If Pettis is the bigger paying fight, I’ll be fighting Pettis, you know what I’m saying. Like I said, I want the bigger payday, I want the bigger fight. That’s what it is.”
As far as Anthony Pettis calling him out, Diaz said, “I’m probably the guy to fight. I’m on a winning streak. I’ve defeated some top guys. Of course he wants to fight me. But, I’m about the bigger fights right now. My whole career I’ve had these up and downs, because I’ve always fought whoever. And I’ll still fight whoever, as long as it’s worth my while.”
After Nate fought Miller, he spoke with Joe Rogan and prompted people to buy Jim Miller’s walkout T-shirt to help to support his nephew’s polycystic kidney disease foundation. It was a sign of showmanship and class Nate gave his opponent after the win. While the Diaz brothers may often be criticized for their antics and trash talk preceding a fight, Nate explained, ”There’s a lot of negatives, people don’t look at the big picture. They see somebody, they see an angry face or something, and they judge right from there I think.” He continued, ”If I’m being loud or whatever, I’m fighting, you know. If I’m laying out guys, that’s my choice. It’s on me to say what I gotta say.”
Diaz went on explain that that’s just his way of mentally preparing to fight his opponents, but after the fight, he has no qualms giving props where they’re due. “There’s nothin wrong with the guy, any of the guys I fight…I could respect Jim Miller. He’s just doing what I’m trying to do, right? Get to the top of the division, and get paid, and go home.”
To sum it all up, “I think there’s more bad guys out there, the bad guys not the guys who are acting like the bad guy. Maybe it’s the guys who are acting like the good guys who are the bad guys.” Well put.
In being a member of Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Nate made it clear that he’ll always be a loyal brother and teammate, no matter what the stakes. When speaking on his teammates, who include Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz, he said of the team, “It’s important. That’s how you get to where you’re at. This is a team sport. You don’ just train by yourself. The partners that you train and grow with, you know, those guys are my brothers.”
When Nate exclaimed in his post-fight speech on FOX that Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez is the best lightweight in the world, he meant it. He told MMA Fight Corner, ”That’s because he is above me.” In addition, Diaz added that Melendez should be brought in to the UFC also, “They brought all these other guys over and they left Gilbert behind. I think it’s pretty unfair. So, I think that he should have had a chance to fight for the belt, but they kept him over there.”
While it’s highly possible that one day soon, ‘El Nino” could make his first wave in the UFC, Diaz expressed his true feelings, stating he’d want to never have to fight his friend, ”I’m gonna do my best to get that belt, and if I don’t, Gilbert’s gonna be right there, fighting the guy who beat me.”