Nate Diaz will face Khamzat Chimaev in the main event of UFC 279 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a fight Diaz says will be the last of his epic UFC career.
Diaz’s name is all over the UFC record books, as he’s second among active fighters with 15 post-fight bonuses, tied for third with nine submissions and fourth with 2,386 strikes landed.
As great as his fights have been, he’s equally or more entertaining when someone sticks a microphone in his face. Here are a few of my favorite Diaz moments during his UFC run, in no particular order. There are plenty more I could have chosen, and Diaz is going to be remembered long after he’s gone.
These, though, were a few that stood out to me.
Submits Conor McGregor and isn’t surprised
After chasing a fight with McGregor for years, Diaz finally got his wish when he faced off with McGregor in the main event of UFC 196 on March 5, 2016, at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Diaz took the fight on 10 days’ notice, so it was made as a welterweight bout instead of a lightweight match.
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McGregor controlled the first round and opened a huge gash over Diaz’s right eye. But he noticeably tired in the second and Diaz began finding a home for his left. Diaz hit him with a good shot late in the round, and McGregor shot in for a takedown. Diaz quickly reversed positions and caught McGregor in a rear naked choke. McGregor tapped at 4:12 of the second in what was, and remains, the signature victory of Diaz’s career.
Afterward, Joe Rogan interviewed him in the Octagon and Diaz brought the house down with one line after Rogan asked how it felt.
“Hey, I’m not surprised, motherf***ers,” he said.
Returns after a three-year layoff with an epic performance and call-out
After a three-year layoff, Diaz returned to competition at UFC 241 in Anaheim, California, to face former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. It was hard to know what to expect after Diaz was out that long, but he was in near-peak form.
He dominated Pettis and won a one-sided decision. But it wasn’t the fight itself that was the big news on this night. It was his call-out after the fight.
“The reason I was off is because everybody sucks,” Diaz said. “There was nobody to fight. But with this belt, I want to defend it against — Jorge Masvidal had a good last fight. Good last fight. All respect to the man, but there ain’t no gangsters in this game any more. There ain’t nobody who done it right but me and him. So I know my man’s a gangster, but he ain’t no West Coast gangster.”
Brings out President Trump, The Rock for his BMF fight
The UFC pitted Diaz and Masvidal for what it called the BMF belt, short for baddest motherf***er. It was the main event despite not being an official championship fight at Madison Square Garden in New York, an extreme rarity.
Then-President Donald Trump watched the fight from Octagon-side, and actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson presented the winner with the BMF belt. Unfortunately for Diaz, that turned out to be Masvidal, after a ringside physician stopped the fight between Rounds 3 and 4 because of a cut Diaz suffered.
The result has long since been forgotten, but few who were there will ever forget the A-list audience that showed and the passion and electricity in The Garden that night.
Epic rematch with McGregor
Diaz failed to show for the final pre-fight news conference before his rematch with McGregor on Aug. 20, 2020 at UFC 202, so McGregor sat on the dais and answered questions.
He did, that is, until Diaz and his team members arrived late and began shouting obscenities at each other. Plastic water bottles flew, and while it brought disciplinary action from the Nevada Athletic Commission, it also lifted interest in the bout, which was already high, to a near-fever pitch.
The fight was again sensational and won Fight of the Night honors. But McGregor got out to an early lead and was able to hold off a late charge from Diaz.
Calls out McGregor in epic fashion after win over Michael Johnson
Diaz and Michael Johnson won Fight of the Night on Dec. 19, 2015, in Orlando, Florida, for their classic battle. But as great as the fight was, and it was sensational, it was yet again Diaz’s performance on the microphone after the fight that led to the victory.
He would ultimately get the fight he wanted on just 10 days’ notice when Rafael dos Anjos had to pull out. But Diaz probably put himself in the running for it with his rant in the cage after beating Johnson.
“F*** you, Conor McGregor,” Diaz said. “You’re taking everything I’ve worked for. F*** you. I’m going to fight your f***ing ass. You know what’s the real fight. You know what’s the money fight. That’s me, not these clowns you’ve already punked. You beat them already. Those are easy fights. Come take the real fight.”
Lets Benson Henderson know how he’s feeling during the fight
Diaz’s only title opportunity came against lightweight champion Benson Henderson on Dec. 8, 2012, in Seattle, Washington. Henderson’s wrestling carried the day and he won a unanimous decision over Diaz.
Diaz, though, wasn’t happy with the way the fight was being fought and so, as they were grappling in the center of the ring, Diaz lifted both hands up, shot up his middle finger and gave Henderson the bird. During a championship fight.
The crowd, of course, loved it, though it didn’t go over that well with the censors at Fox.