Nick Diaz may be on his way back to the Octagon sooner rather than later.
How? B/R's Jeremy Botter noted how last week.
Essentially, Nick Diaz is suing the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a violation of his constitutional rights to due process. If Diaz wins this case, then it is likely we will see the fighter who represents the 209 more proudly than anyone else step back inside the cage in 2012.
But who are the likely opponents? Which opponents make the most sense for Diaz? Nick is a top five welterweight and he is coming off of a narrow defeat that was debated among MMA fans worldwide.
Let's take a look at the five best fights for the welterweight contender.
Fitch makes sense from a rankings standpoint. However, in the interest of an exciting fight, this match-up is on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, the fans have never quite taken to Fitch's hard-nosed, grinding style.
If Fitch and Diaz fought later in 2012, it is entirely possible that the fans would be treated to Fitch grinding out a decision victory over the popular contender, and we also know how Diaz reacts to wrestlers post-fight. Overall, it's not the best fit.
I know, you expected him to make the list. It makes a lot of sense. Rory manhandled Nate Diaz and is GSP's teammate. However, we know that Rory will not fight GSP. It makes more sense to continue to allow MacDonald to hone his skills while giving Diaz another fight that could put him back in the title hunt.
The possibility of eliminating Diaz from contention while having Rory take other fights because of teammate obligations is not a situation the welterweight division needs. There is enough talent in the division to avoid this fight for the time being.
This would be a ridiculously fun fight. But Alves is 2-4 in his past six fights. While the bout would be highly entertaining, it probably is not the best use of either fighter.
This fight promises action. Bahadurzada debuted on the UFC scene with an impressive annihilation of Paulo Thiago. Unfortunately, it was on Fuel TV.
However, it gives the UFC enough to work with to build him up for the fans who did not get to see his performance. If they can do it with Che Mills, they can do it with Siyar Bahadurzada.
Bahadurzada is riding a seven-fight win streak and would put the winner in the title discussion. And in Diaz's case, would put the fighter in a title fight for the first part of 2013.
The Ultimate Fighter 15 finale will feature a battle between the two contenders on June 1, making the winner a great candidate for Nick Diaz.
A fight between either Ellenberger or Kampmann vs. Diaz is an instant No. 1 contender fight that is ready to co-main event a card.
More than that, either would make an exciting fight.
The welterweight division is loaded with talent on the brink of a title shot, so the options are plenty. Even if the winner of the fight does not fight Nick Diaz, they can take another high-level fight immediately with those mentioned on this list.
Yes, he is coming off a loss, but thankfully it was in an exciting fight on Fuel TV.
Many felt that had the fight vs. Ellenberger been a five-round fight that Sanchez would have finished.
Regardless, Diego came on during the third frame nearly doing enough to earn the stoppage. While he lost to a contender in Ellenberger, Sanchez still looked strong in the fight.
More importantly, Sanchez vs. Diaz would be a rematch of their 2005 war at The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale.
Seven years after one of the most exciting fights in company history, they could do it again with even more on the line. And both fighters bring the same tenacity to the cage. Diaz vs. Sanchez would have a lot of fans reaching for their wallets.
While the winner of Ellenberger/Kampmann would probably be the more entertaining fight, the winner of Hendricks/Koscheck makes more sense.
Why? Let's break it down by each fighter.
Johny Hendricks is riding his ascent and will be featured on network television. If he wins, he will gain a large following from FOX and carry that in to a fight against Diaz. Not only that, but wins over Fitch and Koscheck consecutively should earn him a No. 1 contenders fight.
Josh Koscheck has already petitioned the UFC for a fight against Diaz in the past. And can you imagine the trash talk from each man? The weigh-in staredown? Or more likely, the weigh-in separation?
The pre-fight antics, and possibly post-fight antics, make this a very intriguing match-up. As for the in-cage action, it should not be light on that, either.
With the fight being featured on FOX, it makes all the sense to have the winner fight a true top contender to capitalize on their exposure.
Most will tell you that Diaz should immediately fight Carlos Condit. And that fight makes sense too, but it is not the fight the fans want most.
When Diaz signed on the dotted line and subsequently defeated BJ Penn it was all about Diaz vs. GSP. It is the most coveted fight in the sport sans Sonnen vs. Silva.
GSP and the UFC have highlighted a late 2012 return for the champion, and Condit shouldn't be sitting on the shelf for that long. Allow Condit to defend the the interim championship against any number of the contenders that sit behind him. Allow the legal system to work out the details of Diaz's return which should put the highly anticipated fight on the right timeline.
If Martin Kampmann is able to get past Jake Ellenberger, you can dangle that piece of rematch meat in front of Condit to satisfy him. Besides, a four-man tournament worked for the heavyweight division when Randy Couture returned from his lengthy contract dispute.
This is the ideal solution. Despite the contention from purists saying Diaz does not deserve the title shot, this is still entertainment. Fans are clamoring for this fight. GSP desperately wants it too. As does Diaz. It will sell.
Why potentially ruin it when it is preferable to keep Condit active anyway? Diaz is currently inactive due to his situation and GSP is nursing his knee. Condit can stay active and return in the late summer or early fall to defend the interim crown.
It makes the most sense and satisfies almost everyone. Let's send the cameras to Stockton and Montreal and begin taping UFC Primetime: Diaz vs. St. Pierre and enjoy one of the best match-ups of the year.