Nate Diaz, one of the most popular -- and free-spirited -- fighters in MMA, has not spoken publicly about his fighting career in more than two years. Until now. Diaz, who squares off against Anthony Pettis in a welterweight bout on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, California, joined Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on Monday to discuss his return to the Octagon, why he hasn't fought since 2016 and whether a third fight against Conor McGregor is on the horizon.
Here's what he had to say:
On why the long time between fights: The way the UFC works, we didn't get it worked out. That's just how it went.
On returning at UFC 241 against Pettis: It was just the best fight. Coming off a good win, and he's one of the top guys and better guys in the division. He's one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC. It's a guy I would actually enjoy watching over the rest of these fighters. It's getting boring, the fight game. If I'm going to take part in any fights, I would like it to be a fight that is interesting. If I'm a fight fan, I want an interesting fight. I don't want a boring fight.
On whether he was impressed by Pettis's win in March against Stephen Thompson: I didn't see the fight with "Wonderboy." I saw the knockout and saw some jacked-up footage from other places. It's a good win. That guy just fought for the title with Tyron Woodley. Some good fights -- boring fights, but he's having some good success there. Anthony has been in the game for a while. I'm not into anybody who doesn't put their time in and [put] good fights on. It's good to find a worthy opponent.
On Pettis saying he doesn't like him: It doesn't make a difference. I don't care. I like him just fine. Like I said, he has some good wins in the UFC and he's done a good job. He has some losses but has some entertaining s---, too, so I'm cool with that. Anthony Pettis is the biggest, best fight you can find in the whole lightweight, welterweight divisions. With all due respect to the heavyweights [the UFC 241 main event is Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic in a championship rematch], who are great also, [the UFC] can't have me headlining any cards. They can't give Nate Diaz [pay-per-view] points, so I have to do it all myself. So this is how we do it.
Diaz proclaims himself done with lightweight division
Nate Diaz tells Ariel Helwani that he is done with the 155-lb. division and says he doesn't need to fight Khabib because he already beat Conor quicker and easier than him.
On fighting at welterweight instead of lightweight: I'm just done with the 155 thing. That's in the past. I think it's time to fight at a more comfortable weight class. There's nothing for me there. I already did everything, beat everybody. I feel I'm the king of that division anyways. I mean, I am the king of that division. So I'm just going to leave it where it's at. There was no love for it. There's no opponents there. That s---'s weak.
Editor's note: Nate Diaz is 11-6 as a UFC lightweight. He won his last fight in the division, beating Michael Johnson in 2015, but he was 2-3 in his last five at 155 pounds, including a title fight loss to Benson Henderson in 2012.
On claiming to be king of a division in which unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov is champion: Khabib, I already slapped him in his face. I already told you guys that. And I beat Conor [McGregor] before him, quicker than him, easier than him. He's just gonna ignore that, act like whatever. He's just being a little big-headed right now. So I'm just like, whatever. I don't need to fight him anyways, because I've already got a victory over him. He's just gonna hide out and play champ and act like a good guy, f---ing Mr. f---ing Humble f---ing Khabib. I'm not buying that s---. I don't need to sit around here and f---ing chase nobody. If anybody be doing the chasing, they got to come this way. So I'm gonna retire that division as champ. I slapped both Conor and Khabib, so how does that make anybody a winner?
On when this slap of Khaibib occurred: At World Series of Fighting [cageside in Las Vegas in 2015]. The reason he got slapped was because he's not humble and not this nice guy. He's there with his friend, trying to get a fight with me, taking a picture of me and making fun of me. So I capitalized and told him, 'F--- you,' and I slapped him in his face. And he was spooked for his life. His whole team? Nobody did s---. I had Kron Gracie with me, it was 2-on-15. That whole Russian army who thought they were hard? They were scared for their life when that happened.
On the UFC Hall of Fame: The Hall of Fame s--- is f---ing silly. Put the right people in there. What about Jens Pulver? Isn't he trying to get in there? They are putting f---ing Michael Bisping in there? What the f---? Shouldn't there be other people first? Isn't he a little new for that? I don't want to be in the Hall of Fame anyways. I'm just saying about the OGs. Nick should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. That's up to them.