Just days before he makes his first appearance in the octagon in over six years, Diaz left no stone unturned during an interview where he described his love/hate relationship with combat sports. He was adamant saying “I never enjoyed fighting, it’s just something that I do,” leaving many to wonder if he was mentally prepared to rematch Lawler.
During the UFC 266 press conference on Thursday, Diaz sought to clarify some of those comments, making it clear that even if he’s never fully comfortable with the idea of fighting, that has never stopped him from putting on blistering performances where there’s an opponent standing across the cage from him.
“I don’t know if you took it [the wrong way],” Diaz explained. “I don’t feel like I meant to say it the way you said it. There’s a few things the way this fight got set up, and either way it doesn’t make any difference. When I get someone in front of me, I seem to be right back.
“I’ve always trained with the best, and I’ve always held my own with the best. I didn’t expect at this age to catch so much heat and so much expectation from everybody. It’s kind of hard. Before I was just used to saying hi and being happy with everybody, and now all of a sudden I’m going like hey, wait, wait, wait. That’s all. I wasn’t ready for all of the extra attention.”
In that same interview, Diaz also said that he felt like the sport had taken away more from him than he’s actually received, and it seems that really came down to the kind of support he’s been shown over the years.
Despite receiving the loudest ovation at the press conference, Diaz revealed how he felt somewhat neglected in the years he’d been away from the sport.
“I’m not knocking the UFC, just maybe the whole sport in general,” Diaz said. “I always fought, I had three to five fights a year for like 17 years or so. All I ever thought about was weight, what am I going to eat After a while, you realize there’s more to life. After a while, you realize there’s more to life and everybody digs their heels into you while you’re down. It’s kind of rough.
“It’s nice to see a lot of support like two weeks leading up to a fight. But what about the last five years? That’s kind of how I feel. Of course, I get a lot of hi’s and byes and I’ve done plenty of handshakes. I’d like to take some of those back.”
Conflicted feelings aside, Diaz was still carrying a slight smile on his face while receiving a raucous reception from the fans in Las Vegas and the T-Mobile Arena will likely come unglued when he walks out for his fight at UFC 266.
After such a long time away, Diaz seems anxious to get back to work now that the fight is drawing near and it appears he’s sticking around — especially if things don’t go his way.
“Definitely want to do this more often, especially if I get my ass whooped,” Diaz said. “If I get my ass whooped, I want to come back right away. If I get my ass whooped, I want to come right back.”