It was a full house at the Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., for UFC 261. More than 15,000 fans turned up for the first fully open indoor arena show since COVID-19 shut down the North American sporting world in mid-March 2020. Also in attendance: various celebrities like Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox. YouTuber turned-boxer Jake Paul (eye roll). Other sports stars like Tom Brady and Tim Tebow.
And then ... Nick Diaz?
We don’t know whether to be surprised or not that the elusive former contender showed up at UFC 261. Nick has been largely AWOL from the sport for years. But, on the other hand, this is the first opportunity for many people to go out and drink in public. And Nick is certainly down for doing that.
It wasn’t all just fun and fights, though. According to UFC President, Dana White, Nick was waiting backstage for him after the UFC 261 post-fight press conference (watch it here) to talk a comeback. And in another surprising turn of events, White sounded interested.
“Nick wants to fight,” White said. “We’ll see how this goes. He’s waiting for me in the back right now. I’m going to go talk to him.”
White went as far as to suggest Nick could be Khamzat Chimaev’s comeback opponent, which would certainly be a big fight. A big enough fight for Nick, who undoubtedly expects to be paid as the needle mover he is? That’s the big question.
The elder Diaz brother hasn’t fought since 2015, and while a lot of that has to do with his focus on partying over fighting, UFC’s refusal to give him PPV points outside a championship fight has also played a big part in keeping him out of the cage.
We can only hope something gets worked out. The pandemic seems to have done Nick Diaz a lot of good. Where before his social media was full of bars and boozing, now it’s full of training. If there’s ever a time for Nick to step back in the cage, it’s now.
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