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Nate Diaz re-emerged at just the right time to murk things up

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Esther Lin, Sportsfile

Fight game parallels are oftentimes dubious, and this one might not be any different…but when Donald Cerrone comes crashing down to earth, it just seems like Nate Diaz is (always) right there next to the hole he left in the ground. 

The last time "Cowboy" had a long winning streak snapped came back in Dec. 2011, when he absorbed a record number of shots from Diaz after winning six straight. Four years later, Cerrone saw his eight-fight win streak come to an end against Rafael dos Anjos, this time in a title fight. Once again Diaz was on hand, redirecting attention unto himself. Diaz out-struck (and out-taunted) Michael Johnson for 15 minutes to come roaring back to life at 155 pounds. He even put the Stockton Slap on him, the same he whapped Cerrone with back in the day.

The crowd in Orlando couldn’t get enough of him.

Just as Cerrone saw two years worth of momentum disintegrate in 66 seconds, Diaz — after recording just a single victory in three-and-a-half years — was calling out none other than Conor McGregor. It was supposed to be Cerrone welcoming McGregor up a body weight. Try as we might, we can’t keep the story lines straight.

How does it happen? In the fight game fates change faster than the arms can be raised. We’re all morphologists, studying one face as it transforms into another. But it’s more than that, too. Never has this been illustrated as well as it was on Saturday night, when Diaz showed how easily our collective imagination gives over to vivid scenarios. Even if Diaz was saying he was the money fight for McGregor all week, we didn’t really believe that a Diaz-McGregor fight was even a thing. It probably isn’t. But it’s fun to think that it is.

(Because, you know…maybe it is).

In any case, he made people think about it.

And if there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that Diaz’s re-emergence onto the scene not only felt welcome, it came at a very good time. It was an opportune moment to shoot for the moon, so to speak, even if FOX muted that shot due to foul language. (No Diaz will ever comply with the FCC). Just a week removed from McGregor’s 13-second, one-punch KO of Jose Aldo at UFC 194, everybody at 145 and 155 is vying for a crack at the "Notorious" one. Even Charles Oliveira, who came in overweight, couldn’t resist staking a claim to the Irishman.

In this way, Diaz, for the first time in his life, became a cliché calling McGregor out.

But why not? It’s not of matter of the fight making sense; it’s a matter of figuring out which sense is most worth making. No, Diaz doesn’t have the lightweight belt, which is what McGregor wants. But Diaz is deeply captivating, something that Dos Anjos isn’t (yet). And come on…McGregor’s Zen-bombast against Diaz’s street dial is fascinating to think about. If nothing else, Diaz planted the seeds. He essentially put the idea up for public survey.

Of course, what’s more likely to happen is that Diaz will be fighting somebody between the ranks of Michael Chiesa and Tony Ferguson, and McGregor will be given either featherweight contender Frankie Edgar or dos Anjos. Edgar deserves the shot after knocking out Chad Mendes, and Dos Anjos answered a lot of questions in his first title defense against Cerrone.

These scenarios are far more logical.

Not that logic means anything.

Edgar was supposed to get a title shot (promised on a Friday), yet then McGregor beat Aldo (promise broken on a Saturday). Cerrone was supposed to get McGregor if he won, and Diaz wasn’t supposed to find himself in Cowboy’s boots if he didn’t.

Leave it to Diaz to steal the last show of 2015, just to complicate the picture that much further. Oh, and welcome back, Nate Diaz. As you can see from the disorganized picture above, the game has missed you.