Both Lee and Alvarez have aggressively pursued the fight on social media and through the press since Diaz hinted at a potential Octagon return last week. After engaging Diaz over Twitter, Alvarez made a fiery argument on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour as to why he wanted the Diaz matchup, touching on the contentious backstory the two share and explaining how the fight would be a contest between two of the biggest names the 155-pound division has to offer.
After hearing Alvarez’s case, Lee called into Monday’s show to share his own thoughts on the Diaz lottery. And not surprisingly, Lee isn’t buying what Alvarez is selling.
“I see what Eddie’s trying to do, but I think the man’s just got it all wrong,” Lee told host Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I think the fans, they don’t want to see who’s the biggest name against the biggest name. It’s who’s the best. So, if we’re going from a sporting perspective, I gotta throw my hat in the ring versus Diaz. I think that’s the fight to make. That’s a fight that I’ve been pushing for. That’s a fight that I’m going to talk my talk and I’m going to keep going. But from every other perspective other than a fun fight, that’s the fight to make.”
Lee, 25, has won nine of his last 11 Octagon appearances and is ranked within the top 10 of the UFC’s lightweight division. “The Motown Phenom” saw his five-fight win streak come to an end in his most recent outing, an interim title fight against Tony Ferguson in October at UFC 216, during which Lee suffered a third-round submission defeat while battling through a grisly staph infection.
Diaz, too, lost the last time he competed inside the Octagon, falling short via majority decision in the second of his back-to-back fights against McGregor in Aug. 2016 at the record-breaking UFC 202 event, which stands today as the highest-selling UFC pay-per-view of all-time. Diaz has sidelined himself since that loss, and Lee feels the current circumstances make for a perfect matchup between the two lightweight contenders.
“When you look at it, we’ll just call it what it is. Diaz is coming off the loss to McGregor, who’s the champ. I’m coming off the loss to Tony. I mean, it just makes more sense from a sporting perspective to see, am I going to bounce back?” Lee said. “Call it what it is, I got tired versus Tony. Diaz is known for not getting tired. That’s going to answer a lot of those questions, the tiredness, the mental warfare, all of that. It’s going to answer all of the questions.
“If you’ve got Alvarez in there — the man’s washed up. We all know that. The UFC brass, they know it. Alvarez is never going to be the champion again. He’s never even going to sniff that title again. If they want to make me and Alvarez happen, I’m cool with that too, but I’m just looking at it from a fan perspective and seeing what I would want to see. I want to see the two guys who just challenged for the title, because I’m going to be back in a title shot within the next year. And I think the UFC knows that, I think the fans know that, and I think that’s what makes the most sense.
“They know me, too: Me and Diaz, we’re going to be talking that sh*t, so it’s going to be even funner from that perspective,” Lee added. “But, if I’m speaking for Dana (White), I think he already knows what fight to make. I don’t really have to tell him, he already knows. Even Alvarez is saying it’s saying that it’s Diaz’s [call] and all of this. Like, Diaz really ain’t got no clout. He just got clout just because everybody be dick-eating him. But the man, he don’t fight like that. He don’t fight enough to have enough respect, to have enough clout to really call his shots.”
Alvarez said Monday that despite Diaz’s cryptic social media announcement, which saw Diaz take shots at the entire lightweight division, the former UFC champion doesn’t actually believe that Diaz wants to fight anybody but McGregor. Alvarez surmised that Diaz’s post was perhaps a cry for attention.
And if that really is the case, Lee thinks Diaz may be overestimating his leverage.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” Lee said. “Like, [Diaz] had his shot. He lost to [McGregor], or whatever. F*ck all of this ... you just want to see the big name versus big name. Let’s try and clear up this division a little bit. I think the division is already muddled enough. If you’re trying to mess it up even more and not look at the longevity, if you’re just trying to make short-term fights happen, then that would be the fight. But if we’re looking at the longevity of the sport, and me speaking as a fan of the sport, then I’m looking at a more clear title picture.”
That being said, Lee and Alvarez can agree on one other thing. Neither man thinks Diaz is being genuine about accepting a real fight.
“He’s just got to man up. The man’s got to man up,” Lee said. “If he really wants to fight, he knows who the real fight is. Alvarez, come one. Alvarez, he’s bound for retirement. If you want to beat a man into retirement, if you want to continue to take his brain cells, go ahead. But if you want a real fight, if you want a real champion, if you want a real future champion, then [Diaz] knows who to come to. If he’s really a sportsman, if he’s really a competitor, he knows who to come to.
“(But) he won’t. He won’t, because Diaz knows. He knows I’d whip that ass. He sees me around Vegas all of the time. I’ve seen him in and out of some of the stores around here. He knows. He knows the deal. I don’t think he would take it. If he was a better man, he probably would, but probably not.”