Former UFC lightweight title challenger Nate Diaz isn't ducking a fight with surging contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the smart move is to wait for a title bout with champion Anthony Pettis.
At least that's the word coming from Diaz's manager Mike Kogan, who said as much in an interview with MMA Junkie's Steven Marrocco.
“We could be looking at a title fight,” Kogan said. “I think it’s a smart business decision to sit around for a little bit ... Pettis already said he wanted to fight Nate. Why does he want to fight Nate? He knows it’s a money fight. That’s the name of the game. Who else would bring that much money? (Benson) Henderson? F–k no."
"So now we’re forced to defend ourselves,” he said. “I thought these kind of conversations were kept between us in private. We asked for a new contract. They said, ‘Not after one win. That’s not happening.’ OK, cool, we’ll turn down this fight, which is our right to do, according to our contract. I don’t know how this turns into, everybody is scared to fight Khabib.”
Later in the interview, Kogan stated that Nurmagomedov "hasn't paid his dues in the UFC yet" to earn a fight with someone like Diaz.
The Cesar Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is 1-2 in his past three fights, defeating former two-time title challenger Gray Maynard and getting crushed by top contenders Benson Henderson (who was then the champion) and Josh Thomson.
While Nurmagomedov boasts a rarely seen 21-0 record, including five straight victories inside the Octagon, he lacks a signature win over a big-name opponent that would likely propel him to a title shot.
Pettis, who is expected to be on the sidelines until at least mid-2014 with a knee injury, is currently riding a four-fight win streak (with three finishes in a row) and has won eight of his past nine bouts.
"Showtime" captured the lightweight title when he defeated Benson Henderson at UFC 164 in August, locking up a picture perfect armbar from guard late in the first round.
Which fight makes more sense: Diaz vs. Nurmagomedov or Diaz vs. Pettis with the title on the line?