Nate Diaz has not fought since an August, 2016 majority decision loss to Conor McGregor, but as his UFC 241 fight with Anthony Pettis draws closer, he still considers himself one of the world’s best fighters. In fact, he believes he’s one of the three best fighters on the planet —although he admits he’s probably behind reigning UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
“I’m a top-two fighter in the whole game right now, still — top-three, maybe [behind] Jon Jones,” Diaz told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in a recent interview. “And that’s [after] not fighting for three years. I don’t need to fight. I sneeze a lot and everybody hears about it.”
It’s very rare for a fighter to sit out so long, but with plenty of money piled up after his wars with McGregor, Diaz has been content to hold off and wait for the right opportunity. Despite his layoff, he says he’s stayed in phenomenal shape, and claims he’s been training harder than most fighters do when they’re preparing for a fight.
“I’ve been training these past three years more than anybody fighting,” he said. “If I’m going to be training with all my fighters for their fights, and training for a lifestyle — it’s my hobby…
“I’ve been in living in a fight camp with no fights, so something needed to happen.”
Eventually, something did happen. After a prolonged period of negotiation, Nate Diaz and the UFC agreed to this UFC 241 fight with Pettis.
“Part of not fighting was, the fight wasn’t even with the fighters no more, they’re not on my level,” he said. “The fight was with the whole organization, the whole thing. And I was like ‘ok, I’m losing this fight if I’m just going to sit here and die off in this little town.’ I could go out to concerts and do all the cool s**t that’s offered to me all the time, but I wanted to get back to what I knew.”
At UFC 241, Nate Diaz will finally get back to what he knows, and with a little luck, reassert himself as the world-class fighter he believes he is. Learn how to watch his fight here.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/12/2019.