UFC President Dana White is concerned enough for the well-being of Nick Diaz that a fight with welterweight champ Kamaru Usman is apparently off the table.
“I don’t want to see Nick Diaz get hurt,” White told Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.
White praised Diaz’s recent comeback, a UFC 266 rematch with Robbie Lawler that ended in the third round by retirement. Leading up to that moment, Lawler hit Diaz with several heavy shots, and the former Strikeforce champion’s punches and movement were noticeably slower than his previous showing, a unanimous decision loss to Anderson Silva six years ago at UFC 183 that resulted in his third suspension for marijuana use.
Diaz, 38, remains one of the most popular fighters outside the cage and recently told TMZ he planned to fight again this year. He also called out champ Usman, the No. 1 welterweight and pound-for-pound fighter in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings.
The tough talk generated headlines across the MMA sphere, but White said he and the promotion aren’t setting up any return fight “that I’m aware of.”
On a potential fight with Usman, White indicated Diaz is no condition to fight the champ.
“Talking about Nick Diaz vs. Usman, Usman is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, ”the UFC exec said. “I need to look out for Nick and make sure Nick doesn’t get hurt.”
According to UFC Stats, Diaz absorbs 3.84 significant strikes per minute and has overall taken 1,262 strikes in 29 bouts tracked by the promotion’s official stat keeper. Of course, no stats are kept for the number of strikes he has absorbed in training.
Diaz’s longtime coach, Cesar Gracie, on Tuesday clarified his charge isn’t fully healthy to fight right now, so any return would have to wait for his recovery.
@ nickdiaz209 update. Nick is currently being operated on to replace 2 discs in his neck. Hoping for a full recovery and to return to fighting.
– Cesar Gracie (@CesarGracieBJJ) June 7, 2022
Asked whether any opponent would suit Diaz, White said he cared about the veteran but seemed uninterested in putting him back in the cage.
“I put on fights with the best fighters in the world, and how old is Nick?” the UFC exec said. “You’re asking me silly questions.”