For those who don’t follow UFC, Nate Diaz is a legend in the octagon who may have fought his last UFC bout last night, when he submitted Tony Ferguson in the UFC 279 main event. That fight was the last of his UFC contract, and he stated that he will step away, at least temporarily, in pursuit of other combat sports, most likely professional boxing. So, what does that mean for the sport of boxing? In my opinion, probably not much.
Nate Diaz is a beast in the octagon, known best for withstanding insane levels of punishment and being able to continue fighting, often times winning. But, he’s not the most dynamic puncher, he relies on his ground game and submitting his opponents more so than knocking them down/out with his standing attacks. He can punch, but his accuracy needs to be better in the ring than he is in the octagon. Which isn’t to say that he can’t do it: the sports are just plain different, and I am confident in saying that a lot of MMA fighters could be at least serviceable boxers given ample time to train solely in the sport. But at the age of 37, and with the large amount of damage he has been dealt throughout his career, I hesitate to say that Nate Diaz has much more of a future in fighting, UFC or otherwise.
Still, Diaz has some skills that could make him an intriguing boxer to follow. He has a granite chin, good hand speed, and a lot of experience. But perhaps most importantly, his attitude will put butts in seats, so he’ll be a very marketable athlete. And that, plus his experience and being fairly well-known, at least in the US, makes me believe that Diaz will get a fairly high-level opponent for his boxing debut. He officially weighed in at 171 pounds for last nights bout, which would immediately make me think “drain 3 pounds, fight at super middleweight, and and fight around 180 like he probably came in at last night for the actual fight.” But at age 37, I don’t think the draining/regaining of extra weight is a good idea, so I personally believe that Diaz should pursue the Light Heavyweight division. Like I previously mentioned, I believe that Diaz will be able to make immediate noise in the boxing world, since he is so well known in the States. I predict that Diaz fights a former ranked opponent out of the gate, and go from there. His third or fourth fight could realistically be against a top contender, depending on how well he does against his first couple of fighters. At first, I would think Diaz would go after someone with some name value, like Ricards Bolotniks, Dominic Boesel, or Yunieski Gonzalez: someone of that ilk. And if he takes care of him, go from there. This is really a first for the sport: a top combat sport warrior joining the sport at 0-0. But it could be a lot of fun to follow, and could help bring the sport of boxing some new fans with his recognizable name already.
But who knows? He’ll probably fight Jake Paul or something lol