Diaz wasn’t among the list of opponents pitched to Poirier during UFC talks that ended with him booked — and unbooked, and later rebooked — against Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299. Every time Poirier has tried to coax Diaz into a fight, he’s been let down.
“We spoke about Nate a little bit, but I don’t think they’re bringing him back. I’m not sure…I don’t want to get into all that stuff.”
“The Nate one’s gonna get away, and I don’t know how many fights I have left — I think six with the UFC,” Poirier said Monday on The MMA Hour. “He’s moving on to boxing and stuff. I just don’t see how our paths will cross. But I just wanted to fight this guy because I grew up watching him.”
When the two originally were paired for UFC 230, it was still a ways off from the peak of Poirier’s career. He had yet to claim the UFC interim lightweight title, fight for the undisputed title, or claim a pair of victories over Conor McGregor.
Poirier’s résumé looks plenty impressive without the addition of Diaz, but he is still bothered by the turn of events that led to the cancellation of the fight — and misconceptions he said still linger about who was at fault.
“I would have liked it to happen,” Porier said. “But I would really like for the UFC or for Nate to be honest and tell the truth about why that fight fell apart, because everybody still thinks I pulled out and all this.”
Poirier did, in fact, pull out of the UFC 230 event. But critically, he said his decision came after Diaz was ruled out of the matchup.
When the news initially broke, it was reported that he had withdrawn from the event and that Diaz would fight another opponent. That made Poirier feel like he was thrown under the bus.
“He was playing a bunch of games with the UFC,” Poirier said of Diaz. “They started off offering me replacement opponents, telling me was off the card. I had a hip problem going on. I let the UFC know.
“Everyone knew I was gonna fight if it was him. If they use a replacement fighter, I’m out. I’ll fight if it’s him, I’ll push through this training camp, I’m fine, but I need to get this taken care of. And when they started offering replacement opponents, I was like, ‘I’m not fighting these replacement guys.’”
What was really happening was that Diaz was “playing hardball” with the UFC, Poirier said.
Of course, it’s possible that Poirier also learned a lesson in how to negotiate with his promoter. More than a half-decade later, when the UFC announced his Saint Denis fight reportedly without a signed contract, he publicly pulled the plug on the fight. That brought the promotion back to the table, and his contractual impasse was quickly resolved.
Meanwhile, Diaz’s next step remains in question. After winning his release from the UFC, he went on to box Jake Paul this past August, losing a unanimous decision.
Reports of a potential boxing match with one-time octagon opponent Jorge Masvidal have recently swirled around Diaz, as has his interest in fighting at the banner UFC 300 event. UFC CEO Dana White has said The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner will always have a place in the octagon.
But will it be against Poirier? This past November, when a fan proposed the long-awaited matchup could take place at the April 13 event, Poirier did what he’s always done in these situations: He poked the bear.
“Nathaniel?” he tweeted at Diaz.
Nothing happened, as is standard for such tweets at the Stockton star. At this point, Poirier is increasingly at peace with that.