Nick Diaz's longtime coach has little doubt the Stockton bad boy will return to the Octagon.
Cesar Gracie, who has coached Diaz in Brazilian jiu-jitsu since Diaz was a teenager, told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour that Diaz will "definitely" fight again. The interview with Gracie took place before it was found out that Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites in a post-fight drug test for the third time and is facing discipline from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC).
"Let's face it," Gracie said. "He's a fighter and he's gonna fight. It's gonna happen."
Diaz, 31, was unclear about his future plans after falling to Anderson Silva by unanimous decision at UFC 183 on Saturday night in Las Vegas. It was his first bout in nearly two years and UFC president Dana White joked that Diaz might wait another three since he was paid so well for the Silva main event.
But Gracie believes Diaz will return seeking interesting opponents. Diaz, the former Strikeforce welterweight champion, fought Silva at middleweight and Gracie thinks he would even go down to lightweight for fascinating fights.
"I think a guy like him is better served doing big fights, no matter where they're at," Gracie said. "Seriously, no matter where the fight is -- even if he has to go down a lighter weight than even 170. He wants big fights. That's what motivates him. I think that's what the greatest guys did was they didn't look so much at weight classes, but they looked at the big fights that motivate them."
If true, there would no shortage of potential opponents for Diaz, a proven draw who remains exceedingly popular with the fanbase. Michael Bisping threw his hat in the ring to be Diaz's next opponent Monday. He likely won't be the only one.
After I defeat Dolloway in April Id love to get in the there with Diaz.I think our styles make for a great fan pleasing fight.@danawhite— michael (@bisping) February 2, 2015
"Who wouldn't want to see Vitor Belfort or someone like that fight Nick?" Gracie said. "Or who wouldn't want to see maybe Nick beat a 170-pounder and then fight [Robbie] Lawler if that's what they have to happen? There's different scenarios I think that would be fun."
That rematch with Lawler is one that Gracie really wants to see. Diaz knocked Lawler out in the second round of their fight at UFC 47 on April 2, 2004. Lawler, all these years later, is now the UFC welterweight champion.
"Personally, best-case scenario without a doubt would have been for him to have gotten the nod, beaten Anderson Silva," Gracie said. "And then we'd be seeing Nick-Lawler II and I think that would be a fan favorite. I think that would be incredible, that fight. The build-up to that would be so huge. Now with Nick losing a decision, that fight probably isn't gonna be on the table."
Maybe not that one, but as Gracie said, there are others. The one thing the coach does not want is for Diaz to fall back into the pack at welterweight. In his eyes, that would not be fair to someone with his seniority and money-making ability.
"I don't want to see Nick go out there and fight some guy he never heard of at 170 or some up-and-comer," Gracie said. "He's already past all that. He deserves the respect of having big fights."