UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley truly believes that Nate Diaz will be his next opponent.
After first trying to put the fight together at the close of 2017, Woodley feels like he’s an a collision course with Diaz this year with hopes that the two could meet as early as July.
When rumors first surfaced about the potential matchup last year, Woodley was willing to put off his shoulder surgery for the chance to defend his title against Diaz in what would be a marquee bout for pay-per-view. Diaz ultimately didn’t sign on for the fight after he allegedly demanded a higher asking price than the UFC was willing to pay.
Just recently, Diaz has teased his return to action in either May or June and that has Woodley anticipating a showdown with him later this year.
“I think that fight will happen,” Woodley told ESPN. “I think it will happen this year. I think it’s way more likely than people realize. There are conversations about Nate and I fighting in July. The UFC has offered Nate that fight. They just have to make it worth his while.
“I think I’ll fight Nate this year, and I think it will be my return to the Octagon. If I had to bet the house on it, that’s my next opponent.”
Woodley is still recovering from the shoulder surgery he eventually had to repair long term damage done to him over the course of his career. The reigning welterweight champion previously stated that he expected to be ready to fight again as early as the first quarter of 2018.
There’s little doubt that Woodley would sign on for a matchup against Diaz although it’s likely that fight would anger a number of contenders already vying for a shot at the belt in the welterweight division. Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos had previously been promised the next crack at Woodley after he defeated Robbie Lawler this past December. Colby Covington has also been campaigning for that fight since his win over Demian Maia.
While both of those fighters are ranked at welterweight it’s tough to dispute that Diaz would be end up drawing more eyeballs for a bout against Woodley if they actually met later this year.
Still, Diaz has only found minor success as a welterweight in the UFC with a 2-3 overall record with one of those wins coming against Conor McGregor, who is not a true 170-pound fighter. Diaz did get a victory over Rory Markham in a catch weight fight that was originally scheduled at welterweight with his only other win coming against Marcus Davis in 2010.
Woodley seems confident that the UFC will be able to come to an agreement with Diaz to put that fight together and he would love nothing more than to add another marquee name to his resume.
“Do I think Nate will fight me? Yes, for the right amount of money and the right time in history, I do,” Woodley said. “Is it a good fight for him? No. I’m a lot faster. I punch a lot harder. I can take him down. He’s not going to submit me. That said, it’s not a good fight for him. So, they have to make it up to him in dollars and cents.”