TORONTO — If you ever find yourself in the same room as UFC stars Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz, you might want to take cover because chances are a fight is about to break out.
Pettis is set to fight Edson Barboza at UFC 197 Saturday and while most fighters are focused on the task at hand, the former lightweight champion has his sights on a bout with Diaz.
“Me and Nate Diaz, we really don’t get along. That’s going to be a fight that when it happens there’s going to be some trash talk,” Pettis told Sportsnet earlier in the week. “Me and Nate, if you put us in the same room most likely a fight is gonna happen. That’s just how it is with us. I don’t know how it happened or why the history is that way but we always have an exchange of words. He always had words for me that rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t take that lightly.”
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If Pettis can get by Barboza and snap his two-fight losing streak, a fight with Diaz later this year is an appetizing proposition for UFC fans.
Diaz was scheduled to meet Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 200 but McGregor’s ongoing feud with Zuffa brass has thrown a wrench into those plans. UFC president Dana White announced the promotion had officially removed that fight from the lineup Friday at a press conference promoting the event.
“Nate Diaz wants to fight on UFC 200. He will fight on UFC 200 and we’re going to find him a new opponent,” White said.
Although Diaz added that he wants McGregor or no one, things change quickly in MMA and potentially being paired with a star like Pettis in a grudge match might be enough of a marquee matchup for Diaz to consider taking.
Pettis (18-4) and Diaz (19-10) have four common opponents in the UFC but their paths have never crossed. A Pettis-Diaz tilt is something that has been discussed in the past though.
“We were supposed to fight this fight,” Pettis explained. “My opponent was Nate Diaz but then he got the Conor McGregor fight [on short notice at UFC 196] so then I had to go with Edson Barboza. I wanted somebody in the top five and [Nate] was right there at No. 6 but he got the Conor McGregor fight and we know how that went.
“Me and Nate Diaz, that’s for sure going to happen. I think the fans want to see it. We definitely want to fight, so it makes sense.”
As for McGregor, Pettis says he’s great for the sport.
“He’s got fans that normally wouldn’t watch the UFC. He’s got a whole country behind him in Ireland and I think he’s got the skill to back it up. I mean, knocking Jose Aldo out in 13 seconds? That’s unheard of.”