ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
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Amy Kaplan

Nick Diaz is finally free! So ... what now?

Diaz, the "other" half of the Diaz brothers has been on a year-and-a-half controversial suspension which ends today (Aug.1). His original punishment for a positive marijuana test was a whooping five years and induced a "Free Nick Diaz" campaign and petition to the White House. It worked, and his suspension was reduced to the 18 months he has finally served.

Now... what will the UFC do with him?

Prior to the suspension he and his brother Nate were fan favorites, but now that his brother has dethroned one the biggest athletes in the game (Conor McGregor) the Diaz name comes with a bit more stature (and a bigger paycheck too).

And the comeback has to be amazing.

Here's my top three favorites for his return.

Robbie Lawler

Lawler makes the most sense to me. He's coming off a knockout loss to Tyron Woodley just a few days ago. This KO marks only the second time in Lawler's career he has been knocked out. The first? ... Nick Diaz.

It would line Diaz up for a title fight as the winner of this fight would make the most sense to face the current champ, Tyron Woodley.

Hello money fight rematch!

Tyron Woodley

This one makes the LEAST sense to me, but seeing as the champ has asked for the fight with Diaz I think it needs to be discussed. Woodley has been vocal that he wants to fight Diaz, but I don't think he deserves a title shot just yet. Nor do I think it's smart for him to make his return a potential five round slug fest. I think he needs to get his feet wet and prove he's ready before getting a shot like that. But, stranger things have happened this is MMA after all.

Anderson Silva

The last time Nick fought was UFC 183 when he faced Anderson Silva. The fight ended in a unanimous decision victory for Silva, but then the world came crashing down. Both Silva and Diaz were fined for failed tests (Silva was banned for a year). I feel like a rematch at some point should happen, but not sure it's very high up on the priority list for either fighter.

No matter who the UFC choses to match Diaz with I am confident it will be a barn burner. Diaz is a legend, but he still has something to prove. He's coming off of a long suspension and before that three straight losses. If he's going to make his return he needs to win.

Who would you pair him with? Let me know in the comments!


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