Alvarez, the former UFC lightweight champion, told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that his team asked the UFC for a fight with Diaz, but Diaz rejected it.
“I’m shocked,” Alvarez said. … “He got a taste of that money and now he changed.”
Alvarez thought for sure Diaz would have taken the fight, because of the history the two have. Alvarez and Diaz almost came to blows backstage at UFC 188 in Mexico City in 2015 after Alvarez defeated Diaz’s longtime teammate Gilbert Melendez. The sequence of events started earlier that week with hostility surrounding the fight. Diaz and Alvarez cursed each other out and Alvarez told Diaz, “you’re f*cking next.”
At that point in time, Diaz vs. Alvarez seemed to be a logical fight, but things have changed drastically since then. Diaz fought Conor McGregor twice in 2016, winning once and losing once, and they were two of the biggest fights from a financial standpoint in UFC history. Diaz has not fought since then and has said he only wants to come back for big money or big fights.
“I really thought that Nate Diaz would have fought me,” Alvarez said. “He said a lot of stuff in Mexico. He looks at me funny in lobbies and sh*t like that. I thought if worst comes to worst, Nate would definitely fight me. I was actually shocked when they gave him a bout agreement and he said no to that. I thought he would fight me for sure.”
Alvarez, 33, acknowledges that money is probably playing into Diaz’s decision. His pay days against McGregor were huge and he doesn’t necessarily have to come back any time soon, especially with a trilogy fight against “The Notorious” looming in the future.
“I understand his thought process,” Alvarez said. “I have an idea of what he’s getting paid. It wouldn't make sense for him to take a normal pay check for him to fight me. It would make sense for him to wait 10 years and possibly get the Conor fight, rather than fight me and be impatient. It would make more sense for him to be patient. So I understand the business aspect of it. It’s intelligent of him to do, but eventually you’re gonna have to get back in the cage. Time is ticking. We’ll see.”
With Diaz seemingly out of the picture, Alvarez is hoping for another fight against a big-name opponent, someone like Tony Ferguson. Ferguson is likely next in line for a title shot against McGregor, especially with Khabib Nurmagomedov falling out of their fight over the weekend at UFC 209 due to weight-cutting issues.
But Alvarez isn’t sure how the division is shaking out right now. He said if a fight against someone like Ferguson doesn’t work out, he’s willing to come back in May against someone else just to stay active. Dustin Poirier, Alvarez said, has been offered, so that is a possibility.
Alvarez, 33, wants a fight that fans find interesting. He said he might even do a poll on social media to see who the fans want him to fight next.
“A fight is a fight,” Alvarez said. “Everybody is good. When I step inside the cage, I want there to be some kind of value — something that I can get excited about.”
That apparently is not a bout against Michael Chiesa, who has also been named as a potential Alvarez opponent. But the former champ is not at all interested, despite Chiesa being a highly ranked lightweight.
“No,” Alvarez said. “I don’t want it. There’s nothing — zero — for me to gain in this fight. I lost, no doubt I lost. i don’t want to go that far back. I’d rather fight a big name, like a Nate Diaz. Somebody who has done what I’ve done, who’s put the work in that I’ve put in. Somebody who has fought the guys I’ve fought. Not a guy who has fought no one yet.”
Diaz counts as the former. He’s a big name and the fight is one many fans would want to see. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards, much to Alvarez’s chagrin.
“I thought for sure this guy would fight me,” Alvarez said.