Three potential opponents for Nate Diaz’s lightweight return.
It has been over a year since we last saw Nate Diaz in an Octagon and to the delight of many fans, he might return in 2021. Diaz’s last fight was for the BMF title against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244, in which the fight was stopped due to a deep cut over Diaz’s right eye, resulting in a loss. Diaz’s last four bouts have been at welterweight, but UFC president Dana White indicated that Diaz will return to lightweight if the fight can be made. Let’s take a look at three potential opponents for Diaz’s return.
1. Winner of Justin Gaethje vs. Charles Oliveira
These two potential matchups depend on the proposed Justin Gaethje vs. Charles Oliveira bout falling through. The former interim UFC lightweight champion Gaethje lost his last fight at UFC 254 to undisputed champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov and indicated in his post-fight interview that he would be ready to go again in six weeks. It has obviously been much longer than six weeks as we are now in the new year, but a big fight between Gaethje and Diaz would be a must-see. White indicated in an interview with TheMacLife that the potential opponent would put “(Diaz) in a good position if he won the fight.” A fight with Gaethje would definitely be incredible if it were to happen.
It seems that Charles Oliveira and his camp are set on fighting for a shot at the title next, leaving this fight to be more unrealistic than a fight with Gaethje. A Diaz vs. Oliveira contest would be a great stylistic matchup to welcome Diaz back to the lightweight division. Oliveira is on an 8-fight win streak after dominating fellow lightweight contender Tony Ferguson at UFC 256.
2. Kevin Lee
A fight with Kevin Lee would be an interesting matchup for Diaz as Lee would like to get back in the win column and establish himself as a contender once again. Lee has dropped four of his last six contests dating back to his fight with Ferguson for the interim lightweight title at UFC 216.
Lee has been in a lightweight title fixture before, and if Diaz wants to make a run in the division, fighting Lee would be a solid starting point. Both fighters are coming off a loss and are in need of a win to become contenders again, which could make for an interesting matchup with the stakes so high.
3. Al Iaquinta
A possible fight with Al Iaquinta makes sense for the same reasons as if Diaz were to fight Lee. Iaquinta has lost his last two fights, his last one being against Dan Hooker, who fights in the co-main event at UFC 257 against Michael Chandler. Iaquinta is off of the UFC lightweight rankings at the moment, as is Diaz.
Iaquinta also has been in a lightweight championship fight before when he fought Khabib Nurmagomedov on short notice at UFC 223 in April 2018.
All three of these potential fights could easily headline a UFC main event.