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Nate Diaz angles for Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliveira fight at welterweight

Hopefully edging closer to a UFC return, Nate Diaz has two potential opponents in mind.

Diaz (20-12 MMA, 15-10 UFC), who hasn’t competed since a third-round doctor’s stoppage loss to Jorge Masvidal in November 2019, has made it clear that he wants matchups against either Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliveira – but at welterweight, not lightweight where both men are top contenders.

Poirier (27-6 MMA, 19-5 UFC) and Diaz were booked to meet at UFC 230 in 2018, but the fight was scrapped after Poirier was injured. “The Diamond” went on to face Max Holloway instead and captured the interim lightweight title in April 2019.

Although he wasn’t able to defeat undisputed champ Khabib Nurmagomedov five months later, Poirier now is riding a wave of momentum having outlasted Dan Hooker in a 2020 “Fight of the Year” contender last July and defeating Conor McGregor by second-round TKO last month at UFC 257.

Poirier even mentioned Diaz as a potential next opponent after beating McGregor, which caught the attention of Diaz, who thinks it’s the perfect time to have their fight rebooked.

“Now is the time for sure to fight,” Diaz said in an interview with ESPN released Tuesday. “We should have fought a long time ago, and now the stars have aligned. … I’m waiting for a fight where people are ready for the big fight, and now is the time.”

Diaz continued, “I’m not gonna play (expletive) nice guy like how Conor McGregor just did with him. Conor just walked him right in for the taking. I think that a fight with me would be more real, a more serious situation for him. I don’t think he could sleep with that.”

The other name Diaz is interested in fighting is the streaking Oliveira (30-8 MMA, 18-8 UFC), who dominated Tony Ferguson last December at UFC 256 for his eighth win in a row.

“That’s the guy right there,” Diaz said of Oliveira. “I’ll fight that guy. That’s who I’ll fight. I like the winners because I’m the winner. I ain’t lost to nobody. I’m trying to fight the guys who are winning. …

“I think Oliveira is the best fight right now and Dustin Poirier.”

While the interest in fighting either man certainly seems genuine, a potential hang-up could be the weight class. Despite UFC president Dana White saying that Diaz would return at lightweight, the Stockton, Calif., native made it clear he has no interest fighting in that “dead division.”

Diaz, who hasn’t fought at 155 pounds since a December 2015 win over Michael Johnson, insists that his next fight will be at welterweight.

Even though he’s targeting matchups with two top-ranked lightweights.

“No, I’m not fighting at 155,” said Diaz, adding that he hoped to fight two to four times this year. “I’ll fight probably at 170, 165, anything to 185. Not 155. That’s a dead division. I don’t have anything that I’m hunting in that division, nothing I’m aiming for. I feel like I own it already, so I’ll probably fight at 170 pounds.”

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