Nick Diaz is back, bay-bayyy! STOCKTON WHAT?!!!
You'll have to forgive my fanboyish bouts of hysteria, but with the news of Nick Diaz finally settling up with NSAC currently making waves across the MMA blogosphere, I'm understandably excited to see the return of Stockton's greatest son to his natural habitat.
Obviously, the plan here is to have Nick headline #UFC209 in March. Obviously. It's in Vegas, and Diaz was just given the go-ahead to fight in Vegas, so I need not explain the significance of having a Diaz brother main event a PPV card whose number just so happens to coincide with the area code he helped make famous alongside his brother. I've even saved the UFC some trouble by drawing up a poster for the event.
So, now that we've established that Nick Diaz is totally headlining UFC 209, we should probably start discussing a list of potential opponents for Nick Diaz to face at UFC 209.
Here are the four best opponents for Nick Diaz to face at UFC 209.
4. Carlos Condit
1, 2, 5
Those three numbers have haunted Nick Diaz (but mostly Nick Diaz fans) nearly every day for the past five years. It was on that cold night in February at UFC 143 that, had Diaz been given the judges' nod in those three rounds of his fight with #CarlosCondit, he would have become the UFC's first interim welterweight champion (to be born in Stockton, CA). Had he been awarded that victory, so the conspiracy theorists claim, Diaz would have undoubtedly carried that momentum into a title unification bout with #GeorgesStPierre -- which he would have won, by the way, via first round KO (Stockton Slap).
Even though Diaz *did* receive that bout with GSP at UFC 158, and lost it via clear-cut unanimous decision, the point is that there is a score that needs settling. Condit might be flirting with retirement following his loss to #DemianMaia in August, but there isn't a doubt in my mind that he'd be willing to stave it off for another fight to end this rivalry once and for all.
3. Robbie Lawler
Speaking of old grudges, the history between Diaz and former welterweight champion #RobbieLawler stretches all the way back to the early days of Zuffa, you guys. I'm talking 2004, aka a year before the first season of The Ultimate Fighter premiered and allowed all of you bandwagon-hopping newbs to swoop in on our once-pure sport and turn it into a Reebok-clad hellscape of six-hour long over-saturated fight cards contested at 2 am in Poland across three different viewing platforms. Did that sound negative? I love you guys, seriously.
Just a pair of rising welterweight prospects at the time, Diaz and Lawler were paired against one another on the main card of UFC 47, aka the event where #ChuckLiddell first turned #TitoOrtiz into a human pinata. Despite being viewed as the inferior striker, Diaz was able to not only weather the storm of the "Ruthless" one, but flatlined Lawler with a short right hook early in the second round.
It would be twelve years before Lawler would again be knocked out in the Octagon, and twelve seconds before Diaz flipped a Stockton "Heybuddy" to a member of Lawler's crew (probably).
2. Michael Bisping
I mean, need I say more? I think we can all agree that #MichaelBisping's run as middleweight champion has been the most exciting phase of his career by the span of whatever the largest unit of measurement is that you could apply to excitement. To borrow a term from the professional wrestling world, he's found that sweet spot between "heel" and "likable heel" that makes him a supremely entertaining watch, both in the ring (dude straight-up denied a hug from the GOAT) and out. Plus, he's been able to back all the trash-talk up with the longest win streak of his UFC career.
Bisping has already called out Diaz on multiple instances (see above, and also before he rematched Dan Henderson) and has yet to sign on the dotted line against Yoel Romero, so why not give him the money fight he deserves by matching him up with Diaz? It's as logical a line of thinking as the UFC has ever needed to book a title fight.
(This is the photo that Bisping was responding to, by the way.)
1. Donald Cerrone
Right? RIGHT?!! This is a pairing that makes peanut butter and jelly look about as appealing as skinny-dipping with your sister. (No, YOU went too far.)
On paper, #DonaldCerrone is one of the -- if not THE -- most entertaining fighter in the history of the UFC. He's collected 13 "Of the Night" bonuses. He's gone the distance just 6 times in 18 winning performances. He fights every two weeks, appears to have the same skin-healing abilities of Wolverine, and, did I mention, was once involved in a bitter grudge match with Nate Diaz?
"Cowboy" is the Bud-drinking good ole' boy to Diaz's bud-smoking gangster from the hood, and after these two engage in the greatest fight ever seen at UFC 209, they could just as easily star in a buddy cop comedy series on CBS or whatever network thought a remake of Lethal Weapon starring Major Payne was a fundable idea.
Honestly, I guarantee that the UFC would have already booked this fight regardless of how Cerrone performs against #MattBrown at #UFC206 had Cowboy not decided to join forces with Bjorn Rebney and the MMAAA, but with Cerrone suddenly having cold feet about the whole thing, methinks he'll be back in the UFC's good graces before long.
Then we'll see him fight Nick Diaz.
Then all shall be right in the world, and the MMA gods' light shall shine upon us all in everlasting glory, amen.