“It feels like a fight week of hell just like always,” Diaz said in an ESPN interview released Tuesday.
Diaz faces undefeated rising star Khamzat Chimaev in the pay-per-view headliner, but make no mistake: This isn’t a fight he wants.
He didn’t want it last year when the UFC offered it to him. He still doesn’t want it just days away from happening. And he doesn’t appreciate anything UFC president Dana White has said or will say to the contrary.
“I’m the champion of the whole UFC altogether, and I don’t give a f*ck,” Diaz said. “What they got me doing right now is they’re acting like I called for this fight, which I didn’t call for, and I don’t want, and didn’t want, and still don’t want, but I don’t give a f*ck. I’ll fight anybody.”
Diaz’s wish to not be fighting Chimaev has nothing to do with being scared, homie. It has everything to do with respect – or lack thereof.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you’re well aware Diaz wanted to fight Dustin Poirier (and Poirier wanted to fight him) after his loss to Leon Edwards in June 2021 at UFC 263. Even White seemed into it.
Diaz vs. Poirier was a fight originally booked for UFC 230 in 2018, but it fell apart after Poirier got injured. Revisiting the matchup and making it the final bout on Diaz’s UFC contract against another no-nonsense, well respected fighter in Poirier made almost too much sense. It felt like the right send-off.
The UFC had other ideas, though: If Diaz has no intention of re-signing with the promotion (and all indications are that he doesn’t), White and the UFC brass wasn’t going to just let him have his way. He’d have to go out on their terms by being fed to the wolf – Chimaev. Use Diaz’s star power to help build a new star is the UFC’s goal.
That’s Diaz’s reward for 29 fights and 16 years of service to the company. It’s not right, but that’s business.
After a months-long stalemate and more than one request to be released, Diaz finally caved in and agreed to fight Chimaev. That’s how we ended up with Saturday night’s main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Taking the fight is what Diaz had to gain his freedom. He’s still pissed about it.
“This fight’s not even about this guy,” Diaz said. “It’s about making this guy. It’s about making this motherf*cker. And I’m like, ‘OK, well, you guys aren’t gonna let me go, because I’m the best fighter here. And you’re not gonna let me go unless it’s off of somebody. I gotta make somebody for you?’ Well, all right. You’re welcome. Let’s make him. You’re welcome, UFC. …
“Why’s the UFC been disrespecting and making me be, like, their fall guy or something? F*ck him, f*ck them, f*ck everybody.”
Heading into UFC 279, Diaz said he feels like he’s going to war. Against whom?
“The organization, everybody,” Diaz said. “Everything. Fans, haters, lovers. Everything.”
The way Diaz’s career unfolded, an ugly departure from the UFC likely was inevitable. But in a way, it’s perfect that his promotional tenure will come to an end in Las Vegas.
Diaz hasn’t fought in “Sin City” in more than six years, not since his epic rematch with Conor McGregor at UFC 202. Vegas is where he was crowned the Season 5 “Ultimate Fighter” champion in 2007.
He never had UFC championship aspirations back then at 22 and obviously still doesn’t now at 37. Until the bitter end, his attitude toward the fight game remains as real as it gets.
“All I was after was making sure that I was whipping ass the hardest and being the dopest I could be for me, for my own personal reasons, for my homeboys at home, for everybody,” Diaz said. “I still got homeboys at home that are harder than any champion. I didn’t have any, like, championship objective. I was a champion, you know what I’m saying, as long as I did the job how it was supposed to be done, how it’s supposed to be right. … As far as I’m concerned, I was the champion the whole time.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 279.