Since Diaz fought out his contract with a win over Tony Ferguson in the main event of UFC 279 this past September, there has been plenty of speculation as to what Diaz will do now that he is a free agent after being a member of the UFC roster for 15 years. Social media and boxing star Jake Paul has openly talked about welcoming Diaz to the ring and Diaz’s management recently announced that he would be applying for a promoter’s license, presumably to have even greater control over his career and earnings.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Sonnen added his two cents to the conversation, cautioning fans that Diaz may not need to tread new ground to get what he wants.
“You want to know what Nate Diaz is going to do next? Unknown,” Sonnen said. “When I tell you unknown, what I’m trying to say is all options are on the table, but that option is also to return to the UFC and to fight Conor McGregor. That’s not just gone now, and it has to be Jake Paul or Floyd Mayweather and he’s got to go start his own promotion.
“Those things are all possibilities, but a return is also on the table; in fact, I think it’s leading the charge of what’s possible for Nate Diaz.”
Would a return to the UFC be disappointing? Sonnen doesn’t think so.
The former two-division UFC title contender believes that the popular Diaz has reached a point where he has enough leverage to engage in favorable negotiations with the UFC.
“He would not just be coming back,” Sonnen said. “There would be a brand new and fresh conversation to be had and I think he wants to have that conversation. Yeah, I think it’s leading the way. I don’t think he’s going off to box Floyd and I don’t know how much legs there are to Jake Paul, I realize that there’s something there to pull.”
Knowing Diaz, it’s unlikely that he’ll allow for anyone to break the news before he does. The Californian has long had a reputation for doing things his way, rising up as a cult hero alongside older brother Nick Diaz and eventually becoming a household name in combat sports after a memorable feud with Conor McGregor and a battle for the “BMF” title against Jorge Masvidal that headlined UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden.
For Sonnen, that uncertainty is a feature of the Diaz brand, not a bug.
“Following Nate Diaz is a very complicated thing,” Sonnen said. “By the way, I think he would tell me. I think if I called him and said, ‘Hey Nate, by the way, curiosity’s got me, what are you going to do?’ I’ve never done that and if you want to know why, it’s not because I couldn’t keep a secret and I’d be worried that he gave it to me. I don’t know that I want to know. I enjoy this. I really enjoy the maneuvering of Nate.
“Nate has said a number of things that I didn’t believe. I thought he was working them. Just for example, when he says he wants to fight Chimaev on [The MMA Hour] and two days later he’s signed to fight Chimaev, I didn’t believe it at the time that he said it. When he said, ‘I’m going to walk away or I’m going to do my own promotion,’ when he said, ‘I’m going to consider Floyd,’ I thought these were just things you say. When he said he turned down Conor McGregor, which just by my math of understanding his contract would bring him in $12 million. That would be a massive night for this industry. I didn’t believe it. I thought he was working, I thought he was getting attention, and they all end up being straight and I’ve frankly enjoyed the journey.”