UFC president Dana White doesn’t see Nate Diaz as a realistic option to help save the stricken UFC 222 card on March 3rd in Las Vegas.
After it emerged that UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway had been forced to withdraw from the show’s headliner, a title bout with former lightweight kingpin Frankie Edgar, Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times spoke to Diaz and the Stockton slugger told the journalist that he was very much interested in filling the void that had opened up at the top of the card.
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) February 4, 2018
Reports at that time suggested the UFC was already working on pairing Edgar with third-ranked featherweight contender Brian Ortega but that they also wanted to make a title fight for the main event. Their first choice seems to have been a rematch between UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, but Dillashaw turned the short-notice bout down.
This leaves the promotion in a tight spot. The only other champions not booked, on hiatus, or recovering from illness/injury/surgery are women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and women’s featherweight champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino, but the UFC has been working toward matching those two against each other for a super-fight during the summer.
Under the circumstances, Diaz, a marquee name whose octagon return is long overdue and highly-anticipated, seems like a good option to have for the headline slot.
However, reiterating a claim he has made many times before, White recently told the aforementioned Pugmire that Diaz is not legitimately interested in a return.
“He doesn’t want to fight,” said White. “We have made around five or six fights in the last six months and he has turned them all down. Alvarez, [Justin] Gaethje, [Edson] Barboza and [interim lightweight champion Tony] Ferguson multiple times.”
Diaz has denied on several occasions in the past that the UFC offered him such a plethora of fights. During an appearance on The MMA Hour back in March of last year, however, Diaz did admit that he had been offered the Alvarez fight a couple of months earlier and that he had turned it down.
When Pugmire asked if he would be willing to face Alvarez at UFC 222, Diaz once again showed zero interest in a clash with the Philadelphia veteran, answering with a simple, “No.” Interestingly, Pugmire also noted that Diaz had revealed in a previous conversation that he no longer sees himself as a lightweight.
With UFC 222 less than four weeks away, the promotion has yet to book any new fight since Holloway’s withdrawal. There has been little update on Edgar vs. Ortega. With Edgar recently tweeting that he is “down for anyone, any fight, any weight class” one wonders if negotiations have hit a roadblock. If Ortega is uninterested, however, Cody Garbrandt has expressed a willingness to jump up in weight to face Edgar. That’s an intriguing scrap but is it enough to save this Pay-per-view?