The relationship between Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White and Nate Diaz was a topic of discussion heading into last weekend’s UFC 241, as Diaz has been vocal in his criticism of the UFC’s failure to book a rubber match with Conor McGregor after their second fight in 2016.
Diaz believes the UFC went to enormous effort to book a rematch between the pair after McGregor was submitted in their first fight. After that rematch, which McGregor won via a majority decision, Diaz wanted a third fight, but believes the UFC neglected him.
White has been questioned in the past about his relationship with the Diaz brothers and went on record prior to last weekend’s event claiming that his relationship with the younger Diaz had always been good despite his three-year hiatus from competing.
In the wake of Saturday’s win, it seems Diaz’s stock has risen in the eyes of his boss, who spoke at the post-fight press conference and confirmed that the 34-year-old is a significant draw.
“Yeah, pretty tough to deny [Diaz’s superstar status],” White said. “He’s a needle-mover now.”
That represents a change in stance, as in the past, White had written off Diaz’s ability to pull fans compared to other superstars in the sport. White also said he was hugely impressed by Diaz’s performance given his long time away from the sport and his ability to change his game plan on the fly after the first round.
“You have to talk about the layoff,” he said. “You have to talk about that this kid hasn’t fought in three years. He looked a little rough in the first round; looked like he gassed out at the end of the first round, too. And then completely changed his game plan and started to fight his fight.
“Then once he got there, he basically did what he wanted against one of the Top 10 guys in the world after a three-year layoff. Pretty damn impressive.”