Remember when Nate Diaz spoke a UFC title into existence?
Nate Diaz faces Leon Edwards at UFC 263 | Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
No fighter has forced the UFC to do their bidding like Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz expects to fight for “the title” after UFC 263. He didn’t say he expects this outcome with a win over Leon Edwards. No, Diaz believes he will fight for what I assume is the UFC welterweight title, whether he wins or loses against Edwards.
Now, it’s easy to scoff at Diaz’s comment — especially if he loses to Edwards. Diaz hasn’t fought since November 2019 and he lost that scrap to Jorge Masvidal via TKO. He isn’t in the UFC rankings and Stephen Thompson, Edwards, Michael Chiesa, Gilbert Burns, Vicente Luque and yes, of course, Colby Covington are.
Hell, even with a win, Diaz shouldn’t go from unranked to title fight in one step, but should we doubt Nathan Diaz? I say no. This is a man who has spoken things into existence during his lengthy tenure with the UFC.
He called for a fight against Conor McGregor and when UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos couldn’t make his scheduled matchup opposite McGregor, Diaz — who was reportedly doing shots on a boat in Mexico — got the call. When Diaz wanted to face Edwards at UFC 263 in a five-round non-title fight, the UFC made that happen.
However, those examples are insignificant when compared to what Diaz made the UFC do after UFC 241.
In 2019, Diaz ended a three-year gap between fights with a win over former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. In the aftermath of that bout, conventional wisdom would have said Diaz would use his post-fight interview to call for a trilogy fight with McGregor. After all, the two had split a pair of fights in 2016. However, Diaz opted to a sharp turn away from the expected.
“The reason I was off was because everybody sucks,” Diaz told UFC commentator Joe Rogan. “There was nobody to fight. With this belt, I want to defend it against… Jorge Masvidal had a good last fight, good last fight. 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. So I know my man’s a gangster, but he ain’t no West Coast gangster.”
The thing about that was, Diaz did not have a belt. The welterweight title was — and remains — in the hands of Kamaru Usman. He explained exactly what belt he was speaking about during the post-fight press conference.
“This is the fight game,” Diaz said. “Quit acting like this is a professional sport. (Take) whatever they want to give me? No, I’m going to take what’s mine. That’s what I’m talking about, the baddest motherf—er title. I need that belt made as soon as possible.”
A few weeks later, UFC president Dana White announced that Diaz and Masvidal were going to fight at UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden.
“It’ll be the main event,” White told ESPN. “Five rounds of Diaz vs. Masvidal at Madison Square Garden.”
“I’m going to put together a BMF belt for these two, and they can fight for the BMF belt,” White added, which cleared up any confusion of a non-title fight headlining a UFC pay-per-view card.
A couple weeks after that, White said that yes, the BMF title was going to be a physical object that would be up for grabs. The UFC boss then went into detail about how the belt came to be.
“When Nate did his interview that night, he basically said ‘this is for the baddest motherf—er in the game. So, you know, this is one of those fights that, after that interview, started to build a life of its own through the fans and the media. We didn’t seriously start talking about this fight until maybe a couple weeks later in a matchmaking meeting.”
“I said to my guys, ‘Listen, tell me if I’m crazy. but what if we think about actually having a ‘baddest motherf—er in the game belt?’ My guys loved it, and we started talking about it, and we went into the design team at the UFC. We started to design it,” said White.
The day before the event, White unveiled the belt in a white-glove ceremony before the media.
“Obviously it’s not bright and shiny and frilly. It’s dark and ominous,” White said as he held the belt aloft. “It’s got like a (Oakland) Raiders feel to it. It’s tough, it’s heavy as hell. It’s got black diamonds, around the 244 here, the date and Madison Square Garden and right here is our 500th event and on the back, this belt is one of one… And it does say “baddest motherf—er” on it too.”
So, do I think Diaz will get a UFC welterweight title fight with a loss to Leon Edwards at UFC 263? No, but crazier things have happened for Diaz.