There’s no denying that Nate Diaz is one of the best lightweights in the UFC, but it’s also clear that his antics are testing the patience of the organization. How else can one explain the former title challenger’s absence from the latest top-15 rankings?
Diaz joins T.J. Grant as two prominent names who have been dropped out of top-15 territory in the 155-pound division. Grant’s situation is much different as he’s been unable to compete since UFC 160 because of concussion-related issues.
Diaz looked terrific in his last fight at the TUF 18 finale in late November as he blasted out Gray Maynard in brutal fashion in the very first round. Strangely enough, “The Bully” is ranked No. 8 despite being knocked out in three of his last four fights. However, since that impressive win Diaz has made a number of headlines and hasn’t fought.
Earlier this year, UFC President Dana White stated that the Stockton native turned down a fight against undefeated Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov. In recent months, Diaz has both asked for his release from the organization and complained about his pay. White responded to Diaz’s remarks by saying he seemed perfectly happy when he originally signed his new multi-fight deal and was also in no position to re-negotiate his contract based on one victory in his last three fights. Perhaps the lucrative new UFC deal for his friend and training partner Gilbert Melendez has added to Diaz’s current discontent.
Diaz has been in a simmering feud with current lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. “Showtime” has actually expressed an interest in facing Diaz if he gets past Melendez in their December title clash.
Whatever the rationale, it seems as though a clear message is being sent by his exclusion from the top-15 rankings. Diaz is a top-5 contender, but there’s no doubt he also belongs in the Octagon in order to make his case for a second title shot. He failed in a previous challenge in 2012 against then-champion Benson Henderson.
In a stacked lightweight division, Diaz shouldn’t be able to stay on the sidelines and try and trash-talk his way into another title fight. He actually needs to earn it with another win or two. The ratings snub seems to be the way of the organization telling the talented Diaz that it’s time to get back to work.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports