Perennial fan favorite and former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 266 this weekend.
Diaz spoke with ESPN's Brett Okamoto ahead of his rematch with former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and explained his feelings about returning to active competition. He talked about while he's glad to make others happy with his return to fighting, Diaz himself doesn't get much joy out of the process anymore but does feel he's got a few more fights left which is a better option to him than not fighting.
"I never really enjoyed fighting, it's just something I do," Diaz said (h/t MMA Fighting). "It's just what I do. I tried to get away from it, but really it's just kind of inevitable. All the people around me and all the money and the sponsors, they won't let me get away from fighting. There's things I could do, but that's not gonna work out. I might as well just go and take my punches. I don't want to look back and say, 'Why did I not just do it?' I don't feel great. I feel great to fight. I don't feel great about everything, but if I don't do this, I don't know how I'm going to feel about myself. This is not enjoyable. This whole thing is for everybody else. I’m glad that the fans are happy, and that they love [what I’m doing] and that’s just what gets them going. It got me going when I was a kid. Five months in, I was like, ‘In five months I’m going to be good,’ and I was good. Then, ‘After I make 5-0, I’m going to be so good,’ and I didn’t even make it to 5-0, so I had to go back for more. After that, it was just no way out. I see the kids, I try to tell them, are you sure you want to do this, kid? I like to teach and train and be a part of the sport. I’ve got a few fights left, and if I can survive that and keep the ball rolling a little bit, it’s probably a better option than not fighting. I have a lot of resentment toward the sport for taking so much from me and not giving anything back."
He continued on to open up about some of his frustrations with the booking of the Lawler rematch from the promotion, and that he believes he should be fighting UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, instead. Diaz also doesn't want to fight any of his younger brother Nate's past opponents, describing some of the complications that come with that and the two Diaz brothers competing in similar weight classes.
“I do believe that [I’m the best fighter in the world],” Diaz said. “I think I’ll beat the sh*t out of Usman. I’ve got a better shot of beating Usman than I do Lawler, just ‘cause I already beat Lawler. It doesn’t make sense for me to go in there and fight Robbie Lawler again. I don’t know why I’m doing this. This should not happen. Whoever set this up is an idiot. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I don’t know why this is happening. I should be fighting Kamaru Usman and that’s it. I don’t want to fight the guys my brother just fought. My brother fights at the same weight as me, so it’s like, kind of tough, ‘cause I don’t want to get in his way and he gets in my way, then I get in his way and I’m like, ‘Yo bro, take the whole damn thing please ‘cause that’s what I wanted for you, was to be OK.’ So I really sacrificed myself for him. I’m going to go in there and fight Robbie Lawler again, and he don’t deserve to get his ass whooped, and I know I’m going to beat the sh*t out of him and I don’t want to. If I lose, I don’t want to lose to Robbie Lawler. I already beat him. That just sucks.”