Nate Diaz officially is a free man, but the door remains open for a return to the UFC.
Diaz fought out his UFC contract Sept. 10 at UFC 279, where he defeated Tony Ferguson by submission in their impromptu welterweight headliner. But because the UFC had an exclusive three-month negotiating period, Diaz hasn’t been a free agent – until now.
That’s because the UFC waived the negotiating period Monday night, according to Diaz’s manager, Zach Rosenfield. It would’ve expired Dec. 9. MMA Fighting was first to report the news.
While Diaz is now free to explore his options, Rosenfield said the door remains open for a return to the UFC specifically to fight Conor McGregor in a trilogy.
“Nate is going to be looking at the biggest fights possible,” Rosenfield told MMA Junkie. “He has stated that completing the trilogy with Conor McGregor is something that interests him, and that has not changed.
Rosenfield said “good discussions on options” took place with UFC brass since Diaz’s win over Ferguson, but he wouldn’t get into specifics.
In the months leading up to UFC 279, Diaz asked for his release several times and reiterated that he had no intention of re-signing with the UFC. He’s long been linked to a potential fight with YouTube star turned professional boxer Jake Paul, with the two men engaged in a longstanding war of words through the media.
At last month’s Showtime pay-per-view headlined by Paul’s unanimous decision win over Anderson Silva, Diaz got into a backstage altercation with members of Paul’s team.
If Diaz did return to the UFC to fight McGregor, it likely would be after a fight with Paul or another combat sports endeavor. McGregor, who’s working his way back from a broken leg suffered in a July 2021 loss to Dustin Poirier, currently is out of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s drug-testing pool and would need to be back in for at least six months before he could compete in the octagon.
“You will see Nate competing multiple times in 2023, and that will include boxing,” Rosenfield said.
Diaz, who won Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2007, finished his UFC tenure with a 16-11 record. His biggest victory was a March 2016 submission of McGregor, which set up a rematch that McGregor win by majority-draw five months later.