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31st Aug 2017

Nate Diaz may pilfer huge boxing payday from Conor McGregor

It's no Money Fight, but still

Ben Kiely

It was pretty obvious why Nate Diaz showed up to Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather.

Conor McGregor has to fight someone when he returns to the Octagon and Nate Diaz appears to be winning that race.

Although Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee are set to fight for an interim belt in the UFC’s lightweight division in October, neither of those warriors were mentioned by McGregor when he was asked about his plans after Mayweather.

The only MMA fight waiting for McGregor that he mentioned specifically was the trilogy. When he showed up to the T Mobile Arena to make his professional boxing debut against arguably the greatest boxer ever, the man required to complete that trilogy was already waiting.

An end of year headliner against Diaz is McGregor’s rumoured next fight, but after proving so many doubters wrong with his performance on August 26, he’s no longer limited to fighting inside an eight-sided cage to earn a crust.

If he were to take another boxing bout, the leading candidate to face him would probably be Paulie Malignaggi. That fight pretty much sells itself, or rather, it was sold pretty well by the disgruntled sparring partner’s constant presence in the media for the last few weeks that only perpetuated the beef.

Recently, Malignaggi made a ‘winner takes all’ offer to McGregor, adding that he would forfeit a percentage of his purse if he wasn’t able to finish ‘the Notorious’. That would be a mighty tempting proposition to a man who feels he already won that fight fairly handily.

If McGregor doesn’t accept Malignaggi’s offer, arch rival Diaz just might. His boxing coach Richard Perez told Submission Radio that he would be well up for seeing his fighter put on the heavier gloves and duke it out with Malignaggi.

“I would love him (Malignaggi) to fight Nathan Diaz in a boxing match. That’s what I’d like to see, but they’re not going to allow that. They should, that would be a good one because Nathan can really box. When it comes to boxing, he’s awesome. He’s sparred with Andre Ward, he spars with a lot of top fighters. They want to spar with him.”

It’s true that two-weight world champion Andre Ward admitted in 2014 that he could make it as a professional pugilist, after being impressed by his skill-set after drafting him in as a sparring partner. Diaz has also sought a licence to box professionally in the past and considering how intrinsic he was to McGregor receiving his, it would be difficult for the NSAC to reject his application.

It’s certainly a possibility, although completing the trilogy still looks like the most likely next step for both McGregor and Diaz.