When Nate Diaz teased his long-awaited Octagon return in a cryptic social media post last week, there was no shortage of lightweight contenders raising their hands to accept the challenge. And chief among those challengers was the UFC’s former 155-pound champion, Eddie Alvarez.
Alvarez has campaigned hard for the Diaz fight in the days since, even receiving some help from the UFC’s own social media team. But thus far, his callouts appear to have been unreciprocated. Alvarez revealed on social media that a mutual friend of the two lightweights told him that Diaz wasn’t interested in the fight because Alvarez lost to UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Diaz infamously submitted McGregor back at UFC 196, but lost the rematch to the Irishman via majority decision at UFC 202.
If You only want Connor there’s nuttin wrong wit that but Keep it wit everyone @NateDiaz209 , don’t call out the entire division when You don’t want No work from anyone of Us . It’s as phony as your whole character You fucking Dork . You changed man #Fakenews
— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) January 26, 2018
FYI @NateDiaz209 had a common friend text me a message he sent Saying He ain’t trynna fight me because I Lost’s to Connor and he beat Connor on some mma Math shit . I was as shocked as You are right now …. You forget RDA ragdolled You . #Natesfakenews
— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) January 26, 2018
And at this point, after seeing Diaz express little interest in a matchup that makes divisional sense and has a built-in backstory, Alvarez is more sure than ever that Diaz doesn’t have any interest in actually fighting anyone other than McGregor.
“When he said something, I just thought it was like — it was the equivalent of a guy, there’s a bunch of fighters in a group and some tough guy yells out, ‘You’re all a bunch of b*tches!’ and walks away. He had to expect at least one guy to turn around and say something,” Alvarez said Monday on The MMA Hour. “And when you say that, you’ve kinda got to be ready to fight someone, or at least one of the guys that you called out.
“That was my thinking. We were all called a bunch of b*tches and the guy just walks away and he doesn’t say sh*t. It was really odd. I had a tough time understanding why he would even say anything. Why would you say something if you’re not willing to fight anybody? So that’s why I tweeted again, I kinda understood — this guy just wants to fight one guy. So if you just want to fight one guy, just kinda talk to that one guy. Don’t yell at a group of guys.
“The more I think about it, the more I’m like: When Conor takes a break, Nate takes a break,” Alvarez continued. “Conor’s like, ‘I ain’t fighting until August,’ and Nate’s like, ‘Well, I ain’t fighting until July,’ or some sh*t. I guess his ego doesn’t let him say, ‘I just want to fight Conor.’ Just say it. Like, just be honest with everyone. If that’s who you want to fight, there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t call everyone out if you don’t have any intention of fighting anybody.
“You’re getting a bunch of fans excited who you’re just bullsh*tting. If you don’t want any work from any lightweight in the division, then just don’t say anything to any of the lightweights in the division and everything will be cool. But when you say things like that, you should be ready to at least fight somebody.”
Alvarez is 1-0 with one no-contest since his loss to McGregor. He scored a highlight-reel knockout over previously undefeated ex-WSOF champion Justin Gaethje in December.
Diaz, by contrast, hasn’t competed since his 2016 rivalry with McGregor resulted in a pair of record-breaking fights that did big business at the box office, with UFC 196 and UFC 202 ranking as two of the three-highest selling UFC pay-per-views of all-time.
With McGregor’s status now in limbo and an interim title fight set between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov set for April 7, Alvarez said Monday that the UFC has been hard at work trying to finalize a fight between he and Diaz to keep the division moving forward, but has thus far been unsuccessful.
“The UFC wants it,” Alvarez said. “They called and [asked] what do we want. The UFC called just recently and said, ‘Hey, what do we gotta do to make this fight happen?’ Basically asking me on my end — this is my last fight. I only have one fight left on my UFC contract, so for me, I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s do this sh*t with a banger. Whatever we’re going to do, let’s make it a big name, let’s have a big fight.’ So for me, it doesn’t really matter. The UFC is saying, ‘What do we have to do to make this fight happen?’ So I’m willing, the UFC is willing, and you’ve got one guy out there talking a bunch of sh*t to a whole division and then not willing to step up or doing anything.
“I don’t quite know where Nate’s head is at or what he wants to do, but we had some sh*t go in the past where the UFC officials had to break us up back in Mexico. I just thought, ‘Hey, you wanted to return and you’re saying some sh*t about the whole division. Why don’t we finish what we kinda started?’ But if he don’t want to, no big deal. Like I said, it was like a pit stop for me before Ferguson or Khabib anyway.”
Aside from his own No. 3 lightweight ranking being at stake, Alvarez figured that Diaz would also be down for a scrap because of the rocky history the two share, which heated up in 2015 when Alvarez defeated Diaz’s longtime training partner Gilbert Melendez at UFC 188. Alvarez and Diaz got into near-altercations both before and after the event.
“In Mexico, I got in his face after weigh-ins because he kept doing that sh*t he always does to everyone and nobody says sh*t to him,” Alvarez said. “I went right up to him, and when I went right up to him, he couldn’t even look me in the face. He looked down at the ground. I’m like, this guy is supposed to be so f*cking hardcore, so gangster? He wouldn’t even look me in the face when I was confronting him about all of the mean mugs and all of that sh*t. He looks at the ground and then the UFC officials kinda jump in middle of me and him, and then squash the whole thing.
“I told him, after I beat Gilbert up, I said, ‘You’re f*cking next.’”
Ultimately, Alvarez isn’t sure how things are going to play out — or why Diaz even posted his Instagram message if he wasn’t actually looking for a fight.
But Alvarez does know one thing: If the matchup between he and Diaz fails to come together, it’s not because of money.
“I think as a fighter, we’re in the public eye, we get a lot of attention,” Alvarez said. “But most of the attention we get is when we’re fighting. So when you’re sitting there and there ain’t nobody giving you love or attention, maybe you throw a tweet out and see if people still love me or not. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. If you’re not fighting, and nobody’s saying sh*t about you or giving you any love, maybe you just kinda want to, ‘Oh, let me get some attention from fans.’ You’ve got to fight in order to get that attention from fans and get them to care about what you’re doing.
“It’s going to be purely up to Nate Diaz if he wants to rumble or not,” Alvarez added. “I’m here if he wants to do it. He’s said a lot of stuff, so we’ll see. That’s on him. And there’s fans who go, ‘Oh, he just wants money, it’s just money.’ Let me tell fans something. I know Nate’s contract. I know it. I know exactly what he gets. I hired his management when I was doing my McGregor deal, so I know his deal in and out. Nate’s getting paid money. He’s going to make millions regardless of who he fights.
“So people saying, ‘Oh, he doesn’t want to fight for $200,000 or $300,000. He doesn’t want to fight Alvarez for (that much money).’ He’s not going to. If he fights me, he’s going to make over a million dollars. Guaranteed. So don’t worry about Nate making money. If he doesn’t want to fight, it’s because he doesn’t want to fight the opponent. It’s not because of the money. He’s going to make money, everybody’s going to make money. I just want to make that clear.”