Nick Diaz said he's not sure why he's fighting a rematch against Robbie Lawler, who he beat back in 2004, at UFC 266 on Saturday night rather than challenging Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight championship.
Diaz told ESPN's Brett Okamoto he still believes he's the best fighter in the world despite his general resentment toward MMA:
"I think I'll beat the s--t out of Usman. I'll have a better shot against Usman than I do Lawler, just because I already beat Lawler. This doesn't make sense for me to go in and fight Robbie Lawler again. I don't know why I'm doing this. ... This should not happen. Whoever set this up is an idiot. I don't know why I'm doing this. I don't know why this happened. I should be fighting Kamaru Usman—and that's it."
The 38-year-old California native, who last entered the Octagon in 2015, added he tried other career avenues during his hiatus but couldn't get anything to stick, which led him back to fighting.
"I have a lot of resentment toward the sport for taking so much from me and not giving anything back," Diaz told Okamoto. "This is great. They're promoting this fight. I didn't expect to be the main event or anything like that."
His last title fight came at UFC 158 in March 2013 when he suffered a loss to the legendary Georges St-Pierre by unanimous decision in a bout for the welterweight title.
Asking for a shot at a championship right out of the gate is a bit of a stretch, but Diaz was brutally honest with Okamoto throughout the interview, saying his return against Lawler comes after he exhausted his other options without success:
"All the people around me and all the money and the sponsors, they won't let me get away from fighting. There's things I could do, but that's not gonna work out. I might as well just go and take my punches. ... I don't want to look back and say, 'Why did I not just do it?' I don't feel great. I feel great to fight. I don't feel great about everything [else]. If I don't do this, I don't know how I'm going to feel about myself."
So he accepted a spot on the UFC 266 card, which will be headlined by two championship fights: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega for the featherweight belt and Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy for the women's flyweight title.
"It's just what I do," Diaz said. "I tried to get away from it, but really it's just kind of inevitable."
Diaz beat Lawler by knockout all the way back at UFC 47 in 2004, but he told Okamoto that doesn't give him any added confidence heading into Saturday:
"I'm going in there to win. Do I feel confident? I never do. I never have. I always feel like I'm going to get trashed out there. Every fight I've ever done. 'How do you feel against Robbie Lawler?' I feel like I'm going to get the s--t beat out of me. And even when I win, I get beat up worse."
He added many other fighters feel the same way but are "full of s--t" during fight week.
It's rare for a competitor to provide such an unfiltered view of their mindset, but it's clear Diaz would rather be doing something else at this stage of his life, so he's not concerned with any potential backlash from within the sport.
Diaz didn't shed any light on his plans beyond the clash with Lawler.