Don't Be Surprised If UFC Books Nick Diaz vs. Hendricks-Lawler Winner

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

Nick Diaz at the UFC 170 weigh-ins
Nick Diaz at the UFC 170 weigh-insPhoto from UFC twitter page

Why is Nick Diaz in Dallas for UFC 171?

Maybe he just wanted to watch a night of excellent fighting, but something in the air smells fishy.

The former title challenger has been a bit more outspoken as of late and certainly during the UFC 171 weigh-ins. He heckled Johny Hendricks throughout his attempt to make weight and even told reporters that he could make 170 pounds by 3 a.m. if necessary.

Diaz has openly stated that he only intends to return to the Octagon for a title shot:

I don't care, I'm talking about a title fight matchup. Bottom line, I'm the only draw here. Bottom line. We had like the third biggest [pay-per-view]. That wasn't just because of Georges St-Pierre. And these guys aren't doing that. People want to pay to see me fight, they want to see someone get knocked out or someone get tapped out, or they want to see me get my ass whooped like they've been waiting to see but they still don't get to see.

That would look to be off the table with No. 2-ranked Carlos Condit fighting in the co-main event of the evening. However, earlier this week, UFC president Dana White said that Condit is not guaranteed a title shot with a win.

So no one is in line for a shot at the championship, Diaz is in a remarkably good mood in Dallas, and he has the eye of both challengers at UFC 171.

Do not be shocked if he enters the cage after the fight as the next title challenger.

When Diaz showed up at the weigh-ins on Friday, the UFC social media team was awfully close by, capturing everything from him. The UFC tweeted his presence and then posted Vines of his heckling very quickly.

Diaz has not fought in the UFC since dropping a decision to Georges St-Pierre early last year. He has lost two-in-a-row—including a fight against Condit.

Why would the UFC grant Diaz an immediate title shot? Because he draws.

The Stockton native is a polarizing figure in mixed martial arts, and that makes him one of the bigger attractions in the sport. Fans will purchase tickets and pay-per-views to watch him perform, and those who hate Diaz will do the same to see him get beaten up.

When GSP stepped away from the sport, he left a hole in the UFC. The biggest draw in the company was suddenly gone. The UFC is not based on MMA purity. It is a promotion company, and one of the biggest draws is at its fingertips.

All he wants is a title shot.

Hendricks is already on record that he would fight Diaz, and Lawler has his own history with 209's favorite son. Both fights are interesting.

There are no guarantees that Diaz will get the next shot, but don't be surprised if the UFC gives it to him. The promotion needs a marketable fight, and he will put a lot of interest back into the welterweight title picture.

Keep an eye on the post-fight happenings at UFC 171.

Update: Jack Encarnacao of posted this rumor Friday following the weigh-ins. It makes a lot of sense, but what season of The Ultimate Fighter would they coach? Still, it's an additional factor to the ever-growing theory of Diaz's imminent return.