Nate Diaz is back in a big way…
In his highly anticipated return to the Octagon after a three year absence, the 34-year-old Latino mixed martial artist was excellent in a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) win over Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of UFC 241on Saturday at the Honda Center.
Diaz had not fought since a loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202on August 20, 2016.
He imposed his will on Pettis early and often. Diaz was able to press Pettis against the cage in every round and land punch combinations, elbows and knees. He closed the first and third rounds in good positions on the ground, an area he also controlled when the fight went there.
Afterward, Diaz said he is interested in fighting Jorge Masvidal next, adding that he was impressed by Masvidal’s five-second knockout of Ben Askren last month.
“All respect to the man, but there ain’t no gangsters in this game anymore. There ain’t nobody who does it right but me and him,” said Diaz, who hails from Stockton, California, and enjoyed a huge partisan crowd on Saturday. “So I know my man’s a gangster, but he ain’t no West Coast gangster.”
At his postfight news conference, UFC president Dana Whitesaid he wouldn’t be opposed to making Diaz-Masvidal fight if that’s what both fighters wanted next.
Diaz (20-11) went 1-1 against McGregor in 2016. They were two of the biggest pay-per-view events in Ultimate Fighting Championshiphistory. Diaz has a huge cult following among fans for his irreverence, exciting fighting style and propensity to flip a double bird. He had not fought since that star-making year because he wasn’t able to come to terms with the UFC.