Fan favorite Nate Diaz makes his long-awaited return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Octagon this weekend, ending his self-imposed exile, when he takes on former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the co-main event at UFC 241.
Diaz has been out of action since his five-round war against Irish super star Conor McGregor back in August 2016 where he lost via a majority decision. The 34-year-old Stockton, California native tends to shy away from the media but did sit down with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto to discuss his return to fighting, why he chose to come back at welterweight and why he chose to take on someone like Pettis instead of either Khabib Nurmagomedov or Kamaru Usman (transcribed via BloodyElbow.com):
“I feel like I’m just better and cooler than those guys,” Diaz said of the two champions. “The hell do I want to fight them for? Pettis is cooler than both of them, fightwise.
“Remember Street Fighter? I want to see that motherf—r versus that guy. Or just at school when you knew two dudes who kicked ass. And you were like ‘I wonder what would happen if them fools fought?’”
Diaz says that now that he is fighting at 170 pounds he is assessing the pool of talent and Jorge Masvidal’s recent KO win over Ben Askren made him take notice and is someone he wants to test his skills against down the track:
“Masvidal just did his thing the other day. That was great,” he said. “Stuff like that, with all due respect, motivates you to fight that person because they’ve done some great sh-t. Stick that in my bag of great sh-t.
“The guy that’s kicking everybody’s ass, that’s what you’re fighting for in the first place, right? Fight the best fighters, the coolest fighters. That’s the sport I signed up for when I signed up.”
UFC 241 takes place on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim and is headlined by a rematch between the current heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former champion Stipe Miocic.