The Stockton fighter had been sidelined for 18 months due to his suspension over a failed post-fight drug test stemming from his UFC 183 bout with #AndersonSilva. Now that he's paid his dues to the NSAC, Diaz is ready to get back into action, as long as he can score a big fight for his return.
Here's who could potentially face Nick Diaz next.
A Shot at the Welterweight Title?
Since the Diaz brothers are all about money match-ups these days, you'd think a bout against the reigning welterweight champion would be enough of a score. Not so fast.
There was hope that Diaz would be back in time for #UFC209, possibly to face Tyron Woodley. The champ was vocal about making the fight, however, that didn't happen, and he'll now face Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson again in Las Vegas this March.
Woodley recently claimed that Diaz actually turned down the match-up, adding that he's not scared of a showdown with the Stockton fighter.
If they can figure out the right situation, a bout against Woodley could still be in the cards for 2017, barring the outcome of UFC 209.
Taking on Michael Bisping?
If Diaz is interested in a title fight but not a harsh weight cut, a match-up against middleweight champion #MichaelBisping could be what's next. As two of the best trash talkers in the game not named #ConorMcGregor, the build-up to the battle would be one for the history books.
The British star has shown interest in taking Diaz on, saying that he'd like to face him since the Georges St-Pierre fight fell through.
"So, if you’re paying attention, Nick, do what Georges didn’t—sign on the dotted line and show him how crowd pleasing fights get made," Bisping wrote.
Although it's an intriguing match-up of MMA veterans, Bisping also has a few options to consider for his own return in 2017.
A Welterweight Showdown?
Aside from the champ, there are plenty of other welterweights who want a piece of Diaz, but the feeling isn't exactly mutual.
A rematch with former champ Robbie Lawler was reportedly on the table, however, Diaz apparently turned that fight down. UFC president Dana White also claims that Diaz passed on a bout with Brazilian jiu-jitsu whiz Demian Maia.
"I offered Nick Diaz two fights. He turned down two fights," White said. "I offered him Robbie Lawler. Robbie Lawler accepted the fight. Then I just offered him Demian Maia. Nick Diaz turned down two fights.”
While he doesn't seem keen on his welterweight options, he did give Carlos Condit some love during a smoke-filled interview with Snoop Dogg. Maybe a rematch with "The Natural Born Killer" can entice Diaz back into the Octagon.
One More Time with a Legend?
Holding out for a huge payday seems like the most likely option for Diaz. As for who will provide that big paycheck, that remains to be seen.
Since their UFC 183 bout was so entertaining, a rematch with Anderson Silva would be a worthy match for Diaz. "The Spider" may have his sights set on Conor McGregor, though, so a second date with Diaz could be a while if it ever happens.
Speaking of the Irish superstar, he's stated in the past that he'd like a shot at the older Diaz brother, but McGregor also has a few options on his plate, including a possible billion dollar bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
That really leaves one superstar for Diaz to face, and that's his old rival Georges St-Pierre. The Canadian said last year that he'd love to welcome Diaz back into the fold, so a GSP-Diaz 2 fight could be the match-up to make in 2017.