Nate Diaz Hits MMA Free Agency After Returning to UFC for Tony Ferguson Fight

Adam WellsNovember 29, 2022

Nate Diaz is seen at a news conference for the UFC 244 mixed martial arts event, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in New York. Masvidal is scheduled to fight Diaz Saturday, November 2 at Madison Square Garden. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
AP Photo/Gregory Payan

Nate Diaz will have the opportunity to test his value on the open market as a free agent.

Zach Rosenfield, a representative for Diaz, told MMA reporter Ariel Helwani his client's UFC deal expired after September's fight with Tony Ferguson.

Rosenfield did leave open the door for Diaz returning to UFC, telling Helwani the two sides have talked and there is an "extremely appealing" potential bout with Conor McGregor that could get him to return.

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

More from Rosenfield on Diaz’s fighting future: <a href="https://t.co/BIQy7YQE2f">pic.twitter.com/BIQy7YQE2f</a>

UFC president Dana White told TMZ Sports in June he's anticipating McGregor will return by "the end of this year, early next year."

White said during the UFC 280 post-fight press conference on Oct. 22 that McGregor has to complete six months in the United States Anti-Doping Agency testing pool before he can fight.

McGregor has been out of action since breaking his left fibula and tibia in a fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in January 2021. The Notorious and Diaz have fought twice inside the octagon, with each winning once.

Diaz originally agreed to fight Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279. Chimaev was removed from the bout when he weighed in at 178.5 pounds during the official weigh-ins, 7.5 pounds over the limit for a UFC welterweight bout.

Ferguson, who was scheduled to challenge Li Jingliang in the co-main event, was bumped up to the main-event slot with Diaz. The change worked out well for Diaz, who won the bout with a fourth-round submission to end his two-fight losing streak.

It's unclear where Diaz will go from here, though he has been vocal about wanting to pursue opportunities outside of UFC. The 37-year-old used Twitter to request his release from the promotion in June and included a highlight video of Jake Paul boxing.

Nathan Diaz @NateDiaz209

Ufc release now please or give me fight with anyone in July or august <br>I have bigger shit to do <a href="https://t.co/xyYSCBysLs">pic.twitter.com/xyYSCBysLs</a>

Appearing on The MMA Hour with Helwani in July (h/t Danny Segura of MMA Junkie), Diaz said he wanted to finish out his contract in order to leave UFC.

"I was trying to get the show on the road, and they don’t want me out of the contract, and they’re keeping me in, and they’re holding me hostage, and I want out," he explained. "That’s my main objective here, and it’s been an objective of mine since, I don’t know, what year it was? But the year I fought Ben Henderson (2012)."

Diaz's use of Paul highlights does suggest he could look to pursue a career in boxing. If he feels there is more money to be earned going that route, there's no reason to not look into it.

The Sept. 10 bout against Ferguson was Diaz's second fight since 2020. He has competed in UFC for the past 15 years, debuting with the promotion in 2005 as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter.

Diaz has a 16-11 record in UFC (21-13 overall). He has competed in the lightweight and welterweight divisions.