Whether due to pre-fight exhaustion on the heels of a long media stint, or the inability to contain a more physically dominant Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz was not himself Saturday night at UFC 158.
He lacked explosion off his back, wasn't able to land any significant strikes in the first few rounds and looked better suited for a filer fight instead of a main event championship bout.
Regardless, the pride of Stockton still has enough left in the tank at 29 to turn his misfortune around and make one last run at a title.
Here are five fights for Diaz to take next assuming he doesn't retire too early.
Robbie Lawler made a huge divisional splash in his return to the UFC by ending the always formidable Josh Koscheck via knockout in the first round at UFC 157.
That type of re-entrance into the organization has the former Strikeforce standout's stock on the rise. He'll need a big name next to solidify his spot in the rankings.
Who better than Nick Diaz to challenge Lawler's ascend?
The fact of the matter is that this matchup would be perfect in the eyes of fans who love standup battles. On one hand you have Lawler's powerful punching that has the ability to knock out any welterweight. On the other, you have Diaz's precision and crisp boxing that can stop any fighter on their feet.
Not to mention the pre-fight banter that would satisfy any and all trash talk junkies.
Demian Maia has been on a tear since moving down to welterweight last year. He's produced a three-fight win streak, including first-round finishes over Dong-Hyun Kim and Rick Story.
Right now, at 35 years old, this is presumably the Brazilian's last chance to contend for a UFC title. He has arguably never looked better and he's been able to overpower every 170 pound fighter he's come in contact with.
With that said, if Maia were to step inside the cage with a fellow grappling artist like Nick Diaz, things would get interesting.
First, Maia would have to contend with Diaz's boxing and try to get inside for the clinch. Once he does, it will be fascinating to witness the transitions and submission attempts that both men put forth.
It would be a testament to Maia's rise within his new division and Diaz's ability to hold off even the most talented of rising contenders.
If Nick Diaz can't beat Georges St-Pierre, why not try his luck against Rory MacDonald?
Not for nothing, but MacDonald is widely known as the next GSP and the fellow Canadian would love the idea of fighting a disrespectful contender like Diaz.
Stylistically it may not be the best matchup for Diaz considering how may times he was taken down by GSP Saturday night, but it would give him the opportunity to reclaim his stake in the welterweight title picture and maintain a top three spot in the rankings.
For MacDonald, who was pulled from the UFC 158 card due to injury, stepping back into action against a prominent figure in the sport like Diaz would put him that much closer to a title shot against his mentor.
Assuming Carlos Condit doesn't decide to move up to middleweight and make a run at that title, a rematch with Nick Diaz makes all the sense in the world.
Both guys are coming off heartbreaking loses against the very two best welterweights on the planet and each have unsettled business from their five-round interim title war back at UFC 143.
It's a fight that would round out the divisional title picture for the next year or so. The winner would once again be ready to challenge Georges St-Pierre and the loser would more than likely slip out of the top five.
The rematch holds enough gusto to headline a pay-per-view, but it's better suited for a future main event on FOX or FX.
Nick Diaz has expressed interest over the years in fighting Anderson Silva. He believes his striking and grappling abilities are on par with the middleweight champion and that he possesses the skill set to beat the best ever.
Well, that's exactly what Diaz thought he had in store for Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158, but look how that turned out.
Regardless, if Diaz wants to move up and make a run at Silva, he'll probably have to win at least one fight 185 pounds before the UFC gives him another championship opportunity. He's not Frankie Edgar. He can't go from title bout to title bout.
In any case, if Silva walks through Wediman later this year, and assuming GSP and Jon Jones want to handle their own business in their own weight classes, Diaz could be next in line.
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