Nate Diaz will have his eyes keenly fixed on Jake Paul's fight with Anderson Silva as he prepares to make the move into boxing after leaving the UFC this month.
Diaz was locked into various contracts with the top MMA promotion for 15 years, and finally managed to get out last weekend when he fought Tony Ferguson on the last bout of his latest deal. The UFC were desperate to get him to re-sign, but he insisted that he wanted to explore further options and ended up getting out with a victory.
Now, he is free to pursue a fight with Paul, assuming the YouTuber-turned-boxer can win his upcoming but with Silva on October 29. Diaz has asked for ringside seats to the bout, and is keen to fight the winner, with both opponents being potentially huge fights for the California fighter's fans.
"When I was 17-18 years-old and I was starting to fight I was in boxing with my boxing coach," Diaz told ID Boxing. "There were boxers all over my gym, I was going to box initially but MMA shows were more around my area so I got sucked into MMA and stuck in a cage this whole time with contracts and stuff.
"So now everything is open for the taking and I've never stopped training for a boxing fight since I started fighting, when the right thing comes we're going to take it.
"Jake is for sure one of the options, he's doing big stuff, he's doing really big things and he's got a big fight ahead of him and if he wins that I think people should surely be really impressed by it. And if Anderson does his thing to him that's impressive also so we've got a fight on our hands and I'm looking forward to it. It's 50-50 [between Paul and Silva], we'll see what happens."
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Diaz was scheduled to face Khamzat Chimaev at last weekend's UFC 279 pay-per-view in a bout that many felt was being made to devalue him by having him lose quickly and decisively to the undefeated Swede. But Chimaev missed weight for the clash and at the last second he ended up fighting Tony Ferguson instead, while his rival took on Kevin Holland.
Ultimately, Diaz defeated Ferguson in a much more fan-friendly match-up and confirmed his departure shortly afterwards. He is keen to "take over" in boxing, starting with the likes of Paul or Silva, but believes that he will eventually return to the UFC in pursuit of a world title in MMA's premier organisation.
He had an opportunity at the gold before, facing Benson Henderson in 2012, but was beaten and ended up slipping down the rankings. He ended up becoming a mainstream star years later when he ended Conor McGregor's winning start in the promotion during a short-notice bout, but struggled to capitalise due to issues with the UFC.