Nate Diaz will step into the Octagon at UFC 279 on Saturday night for what may very well be the final time. Debuting as a competitor on season five of The Ultimate Fighter, the Stockton native quickly made a name for himself for his brash attitude and high-level boxing. Fast forwarding 15 years later, it seems that Diaz is ready to close the door on his storied UFC career, but he has one very large task left before saying goodbye to the Las Vegas-based promotion.
In the main event on Saturday night, Diaz will face young undefeated destroyer Khamzat Chimaev. Sitting as the No. 3 ranked contender in the welterweight division, ‘Borz’ is staring down the barrel of a world title opportunity with only Nate Diaz standing in his way. By all accounts, it’s a severe mismatch with Chimaev heavily favored with betting lines as high as -1050. Despite what the oddsmakers say, not everyone believes Diaz is a dead man walking on September 10th.
Speaking with Helen Yee Sports, former Strikeforce middleweight champion and friend to Nate Diaz, Jake Shields talked about the upcoming main event showdown and his belief that Nate Diaz can shock the world on his way out the door.
“It’s a super exciting fight, you know. The oddsmakers are looking past Nate, but I think that’s crazy. Nate is one of the best in the game. He’s always… A ton of experience. [Chimaev] is a good fighter. I don’t think he’s a terrible fighter. The guy’s clearly talented, but he’s going to be surprised. I think he thinks he’s going in there and throwing [Diaz] around. It’s going to be a different story. Nate’s looking sharp. I’ve been hanging out with him [the] last couple days. Him and the whole crew is out here. I can’t wait to go out there and shake up some waves. [Diaz] wins this one, he’ll probably be the biggest fighter in UFC history.”
Chimaev sees himself as a "hitman" against Diaz 😳 #UFC279
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 5, 2022
Would Nate Diaz Defeating Chimaev Be Bigger Than When He Defeated McGregor?
When asked if he believes Nate Diaz defeating Khamzat Chimaev would be bigger than when the Stockton scrapper beat Conor McGregor at UFC 196, Shields said yes. However, the former Strikeforce champion does not think as many fans will tune in for Diaz vs. Chimaev as they did for Diaz vs. McGregor.
“I think there will probably be less people watching than when he beat Conor, but it’ll be a much bigger win as far as the odds go and the whole him versus Dana White story. I think it’ll turn into one of the biggest stories in MMA history if he wins this. Just the way everything is set up with him not re-signing, it’ll turn into a mega-story.”
Since the fight was confirmed by the UFC, many fans and fighters have spoken out about the promotion seemingly leading Nate Diaz to slaughter while he already has one foot out the door. When asked his thoughts on the making of the match, Shields confirmed his belief that it was a decision based on the bad blood between Nate Diaz and the UFC President.
“Dana and Nate have had issues for a year, it’s no secret. I think you know they’re not getting along so in Dana’s mind, they’re looking at this guy. They’re looking on paper [for] who’s the worst possible match-up for Nate and in their mind, they think this guy (Chimaev) is their best fighter. So if Nate goes out there and beats the UFC’s very best young fighter, it’s going to be the biggest ‘f*ck you’ to Dana White and the UFC.”