Nate Diaz says he is willing to fight anyone to see out his current deal with the UFC, claiming the promotion is “holding me hostage" as he seeks other challenges in combat sports.
The American, one of the most popular athletes in mixed martial arts, has been campaigning for most of the past year to fight the last bout on his contract, calling on social media for the likes of Khamzat Chimaev and Dustin Poirier.
Diaz, 37, has not competed since June last year, when he lost via unanimous decision to Leon Edwards.
Speaking late on Tuesday to prominent journalist Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour”, Diaz said: “I was trying to get the show on the road, but they don’t want me out of the contract, and they’re keeping me in, and they’re holding me hostage, and I want out.
“That’s my main objective here. And it’s been an objective of mine since, I don’t know, what year it was? But the year I fought Ben Henderson [in 2012].”
Diaz, whose pro MMA record reads 20-13 and includes two famous clashes with Conor McGregor, said he has requested bouts against a number of opponents, but that none have come to fruition.
Diaz suggested the UFC are intent on booking a trilogy with McGregor – the match-up sits at 1-1 after two celebrated fights in 2016 – once the former two-division world champion heals fully from a broken leg sustained against Poirier last summer.
“They don’t want to let me out of my contract,” Diaz said. “They want me to fight Conor. I’m not fighting Conor McGregor right now. Our timelines aren’t matching up... you bring yourself back to life, and I’ll be back later.”
Diaz has even teased a crossover boxing bout with YouTube-star-cum-boxer Jake Paul, and said he would consider signing another UFC contract if he was allowed to go explore other opportunities first.
“They haven’t offered me anybody,” Diaz said. “I’ve been asking for fights since whenever. I asked for a lot of fights. I asked for [Vicente] Luque, Tony Ferguson. I asked for, like, four or five people, and there was no going there, and then they finally offered me the Khamzat [Chimaev] fight. And I gave them the little, ‘What the [expletive]?’
“And then I was like, ‘Why not? Let’s just get it done with and get it over with.’ I asked for the Khamzat fight and then all kinds of excuses started happening. But, remember, I was like 'I want December, I want January, I want March, I want all these things'.”
Diaz added of Paul: “I’m interested in everything. I’m interested in activity. If he’s going to be the first one to step up, I’ll fight him. I’ll fight everybody.”
Diaz, who debuted in the UFC in 2007, said repeatedly on Tuesday that he was not interested in taking more money to remain in the promotion. He also thanked the UFC for the opportunities provided in the past.
“When I’m asking for a fight, they offer me more money,” Diaz said. “Then they offer me more money, more money. I’m at a point in my career and my life where I don’t want any more money. I just want to depart.
“I’m over the whole UFC roster as of right now. All the guys that they can offer or I’m even asking for, everyone’s been used and abused. It’s a recycled division. Lightweight or welterweight division, I feel like there’s nobody worthy. There’s no worthy opponents at the moment.
“I don’t want no more money. I want to go do different stuff. I went in there and talked to them, and it’s with all due respect... I might just re-sign afterward. But I need out.”