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Nate Diaz on moving on from lightweight: 'I'm the king of that division'

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Diaz not interested in facing McGregor 'at all' (1:59)

Nate Diaz explains that he hasn't fought since facing Conor McGregor in 2016 because the UFC disrespected him and gave the world to McGregor. (1:59)

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.

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1:55

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.