Suspended â€“ and retired â€“ UFC welterweight Nick Diaz may be eyeing a return to the game, and when he comes back, he wants fights "that matter."
That's according to his head coach and manager, Cesar Gracie. And by fights "that matter," there's one in particular that Gracie said Diaz plans to ask for: a shot at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Gracie on Friday wrote in a blog post at GracieFighter.com titled "Future of Nick Diaz" that the Stockton, Calif., native would take a catchweight fight with Silva "in a minute," but if Silva won't come down, Diaz is glad to go up to 185 for the fight.
Diaz (27-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC) has not fought since a UFC 143 loss in February to Carlos Condit in an interim welterweight title fight. After the unanimous decision setback, Diaz said he was retiring from the sport. But days later, it was announced he tested positive for marijuana metabolites, his second such offense in Nevada. He was suspended for a year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, despite having medical clearance to use marijuana for medicinal purposes in California.
Condit, of course, advanced to a title unification bout against champion Georges St-Pierre â€“ a fight he has thus far chosen to wait for rather than risk his interim belt in the meantime. The UFC is targeting November in Montreal at UFC 154 for their fight.
"As far as future opponents, Nick has stated that he would like to take fights 'that matter,'" Gracie wrote. "Since GSP will be fighting Condit, he has to look elsewhere. He will respectfully ask for a fight with Anderson Silva, a fighter he respects and would like to challenge.
"Silvaâ€™s camp has been speaking of a fight with GSP, possibly even at a catchweight. Nick will take that fight in a minute but has told me that should Silva decide not to drop at all, he will move up to 185 [pounds] to face the champ."
Gracie said that Diaz has ratcheted up his training, and the camp is planning to challenge Diaz's suspension in court with the hope of getting it reduced. (Diaz also was fined $79,500 after UFC 143 â€“ 30 percent of his $200,000 fight purse and 30 percent of his $65,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus.)
Diaz is eligible to reapply for a license in Nevada on Feb. 4, 2013. He will, however, need to pass a drug test to get licensed.
"For the last couple of months Iâ€™ve watched Nick begin to frequent the gym more and more," Gracie stated. "Heâ€™s training harder now than he has for many of his fights. It was obvious that training and fighting is in his DNA. It is who he is.
"This week we had a great talk and he made it clear to me that he is ready to get back to the cage. Nick Diaz will return. To address the NSAC suspension, I will say that we have appealed to the courts and if things go our way, it will be plausible that Nick could return as early as sometime at the end of this year."
Gracie stated that he has a meeting set up with UFC president Dana White for Aug. 6 to discuss Diaz and his future.
Before Diaz's loss to Condit in what was a close and somewhat controversial unanimous decision, Diaz had an 11-fight win streak that dated back to November 2007. Over that stretch, he won Strikeforce's welterweight title and defended the belt three times before vacating it to sign with the UFC.
He was expected to fight St-Pierre at UFC 137, but when he missed a pair of pre-event news conferences to promote the fight, White yanked him in favor of Condit and booked Diaz to face B.J. Penn. St-Pierre then got hurt, putting Diaz-Penn into the main event, which Diaz won with ease. White then gave Diaz a second shot at St-Pierre, to Condit's chagrin. But when the champion again was injured, the Diaz-Condit fight became the main event at UFC 143.