MMA legend Nick Diaz may finally make his UFC return. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that Diaz has completed a 14-week diet and training regimen to test cutting to welterweight. Helwani also reports that “He is keeping a close eye on the big welterweight fights coming up. He is “100%” planning on fighting again, per Mubenga, and is targeting an early 2021 return.”
This is Nick Diaz earlier today. He weighs in the 175-165 pound range, per his manager Kevin Mubenga.
He just completed a 14-week diet and training regimen. This is the first time he cuts weight in approximately four years, Mubenga said. Diaz wanted to do a test cut because … pic.twitter.com/5A8EvyLeUn
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 7, 2020
It has been over five years since Diaz fought in the UFC. His last win was against BJ Penn by unanimous decision at UFC 137 on October 29, 2011. Diaz’s last fight was a no-contest against Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on January 31, 2015. Silva had originally won the fight by unanimous decision, but the fight was ruled a no-contest when both fighters failed the Nevada State Athletic Commission drug test.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that Silva tested positive for anabolic steroids, while Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites for the third time in his career. Both fighters were suspended from competition for their failed test.
Diaz was facing a five-year suspension, but Okamoto reported that Diaz reached a settlement with the NSAC to reduce the suspension to 18 months. He was suspended again for a year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after missing three out of competition drug tests in 2017. Okamoto reports that Diaz has been eligible to compete since April 19, 2018. After an extended time away from competition, it was assumed that Diaz had retired from MMA.
Diaz hinted at making a comeback last year after his brother Nate lost to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. In an interview and article with Helwani, Diaz said, “You want to talk about baptizing my younger brother?” Nick said. “That’s on you. Like, you don’t talk about baptizing my younger brother, so you’re already in a f—ed position if you fight with me. You don’t f—ing talk about baptizing someone’s younger brother. That’s my baby brother. You don’t talk like that to nobody.”
The UFC has yet to make a statement on the news of Diaz’s possible return to competition. Fighters have already to make their claim to be Diaz’s opponent. Third-ranked UFC welterweight Leon Edwards and sixth-ranked Stephen Thompson called for a fight against Diaz on Monday. If Diaz makes his return early next year, he will have opponents ready to welcome him. The right matchup can possibly get Diaz an opportunity to become a contender for the UFC welterweight championship.