My own list of the Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts doesn't include anyone outside the UFC, and I'm sure Dana White's list wouldn't either. But when White was asked in Toronto on Wednesday to name the best pound-for-pound fighter he doesn't have under contract, he named someone who had a 6-4 record inside the Octagon before leaving the promotion four years ago.
"The pound-for-pound best fighter outside the UFC? That's a good question," White said. "Probably Nick Diaz. Nick is nasty. Nick's a tough kid and probably should be in the UFC, but he's too crazy. He does crazy stuff."
The "crazy stuff" White refers to is well documented, ranging from getting fights canceled for failing to show up for drug tests to getting suspended by the Tennessee Athletic Commission for his role in a post-fight brawl last year.
But it's also worth noting the "crazy stuff" isn't the reason Diaz left the UFC. Diaz was on a two-fight winning streak inside the Octagon when he decided to leave the promotion because he thought he could make more money elsewhere. The UFC would have been more than happy to keep him at the right price.
In any event, the question of who's the best pound-for-pound fighter outside the UFC is sure to spark a fierce debate. I'd probably take Hatsu Hioki, the Sengoku featherweight contender who has two wins over UFC No. 1 featherweight contender Mark Hominick. Plenty of fans would chose Fedor Emelianenko, who was No. 1 on my pound-for-pound list before his loss to Fabricio Werdum. Strikeforce's Dan Henderson and Gilbert Melendez woudl be fine choices, as well as Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki or Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez.