Posted by Justin Golightly @secretmovesmma
Design wizard. MMA mathematician. Lifelong martial artiste. Justin Golightly is a lover of the fighting sports and writes for Middle Easy.
Justin Golightly

It looks like Nick Diaz is finally close to stepping back into the Octagon.

After being out on suspension since his fight with Anderson Silva in January 2015, Diaz has made multiple appearances this year stating he will make his return. There hasn't been anything official announced, but according to Dana White, he has spoke to Diaz and things looks good.

“Nick wants to fight,” White told The Buzzer on FOX Sports. “Nick’s ready to go again. I’ve got to figure that out.”

Keep in mind, Diaz still owes the NSAC $75,000 before he can fight again. Not only that, but the UFC that Diaz will return to is much different than the one he left. It's crazy to think that so much has changed since last year, but a lot has.

Here's a look at some of the changes that Diaz will have to consider.

The USADA Era

The whole reason why the world has been deprived of the elder Diaz is because he tested positive for marijuana metabolites. This was his third offense, each time failing a test for the same substance. That was almost two years ago, but now that USADA is firmly in place, and surprising fighters with unannounced visits and performance enhancing drug tests, Diaz will have no choice but to comply.

Watch Diaz's first obscenity-laced encounter with a USADA agent

New Champions

Both of Diaz's likely divisions have new champions: Tyron Woodley and Michael Bisping.

Woodley was quick to call out Diaz after winning the UFC welterweight title, but ended up being booked against Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. Bisping is the unexpected, reigning champ at the top of the middleweight heap. He's wanted to fight Diaz as far back as three years ago and has called him out multiple times since then.

With Georges St-Pierre no longer associated with the UFC, these could be two match-ups to look out for.

Reebok Deal and Sponsorships

Nick Diaz fought in a time where someone could make a significant amount of cash from putting Venum, a clothing company, or even a window tinting company on their fight shorts. Well, no more. Diaz will have to rely on whatever he'd rake in on the Reebok scale of worth.

Nick Diaz's fight shorts from his fight with Anderson Silva.
Nick Diaz's fight shorts from his fight with Anderson Silva.

The New Owners

The UFC is undergoing quite a transition period right now. Along with new management and a slew of celebrity investors, a lot of employees have jumped ship as they anticipate WME-ING bringing in their own people.

Many fighters are also expressing their unhappiness with the UFC right now and want out of their contracts. St-Pierre just today mentioned that the deal he had in place with Lorenzo Fertita was off the table now that new owners have taken over. This deal will surely affect not just Nick Diaz, but everyone.

Conor McGregor

If there is one wildcard in all of these things, it is Conor McGregor.

He has become the biggest star in the UFC and has made the company (and himself) so much money that he just calls his own shots. Both times McGregor fought Nate Diaz, riots nearly broke out. Both times Nick Diaz was there, always watchful, waiting for something serious to pop off. McGregor already has a win over his brother Nate, who arguably is a bigger star now than Nick.

If the money was right and the opportunity arose, then McGregor would most likely fight Nick Diaz. A revenge storyline could be built, as well as the older Diaz trying to reclaim the throne his little brother held while he was gone. Hell, Joe Rogan already expressed his interest in the fight and you can't say you wouldn't watch.

Who would you want to see Nick Diaz fight in his return?