Nate Diaz has had a long journey from MMA prospect to UFC legend.
The 38-year-old left Dana White’s promotion last year in pursuit of big boxing paydays – now he’ll make millions to fight Jake Paul in Dallas on August 5.
A fourth-round submission win over Tony Ferguson topped off an iconic UFC run that spanned 15 years and saw him win legions of fans during 27 fights in the Octagon.
The future Hall of Famer originally followed his big brother Nick Diaz into MMA before securing a place on season five of The Ultimate Fighter in 2007.
He picked up four stoppage victories to earn his UFC contract, but despite impressing with subsequent Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night performances, he struggled to reach his true potential.
White famously claimed Nate, unlike his brother, ‘is not a needle mover’ in 2014 before being forced to retract his statement at a press conference five years later.
During that time, the California native became one of the UFC’s biggest stars by tapping out Conor McGregor in 2016 and reacting to his upset win with just five words.
“Ay, I’m not surprised, motherf*****s,” he declared in one of the UFC’s most memorable post-fight interviews.
Diaz lost a rematch with ‘Notorious’ later that same year but sold millions of pay-per-views and gave a great account of himself during their five-round war at UFC 202.
White even helped promote the fight by letting Nate slap him in the face.
After that, he stepped away from MMA for three years as the UFC tried to deny he was a superstar by offering him fights that didn’t whet his appetite.
It was the toughest point of his strenuous relationship with White who was vocal about his difficulty negotiating with the Diaz Brothers.
In 2019, Nate returned and beat former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis before challenging Jorge Masvidal for the inaugural BMF [Baddest Motherf***er] belt.
It was a fight that captured the imagination of fight fans and even Canelo Alvarez was forced to wait for the UFC 244 main event to end before he fought Sergey Kovalev.
Diaz suffered a doctor’s stoppage defeat in round three due to a cut before losing to Leon Edwards, despite rocking him, in his penultimate Octagon visit.
After a career of proving people wrong, Diaz is hoping to do so again in his first professional boxing bout against Paul at the American Airlines Center on Saturday night.
The MMA fan favourite is being written off by many ahead of his scrap with a YouTuber who has beaten former champions Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and Anderson Silva.
“I’ve just gotta train hard, like always, and go out there and get the job done,” Diaz told DAZN.
“I’ve just got to go in there and be better than him. I think I am better than him.
“The thing about him is, he knows MMA fighters can’t box and they’re in over their heads trying to box because he went in there and worked a bunch over in training and now in fights also.
“MMA fighters don’t know this, but I’m in on the same secret and I’ve been in on that since I was 15.
“I’m not your average wrestler, MMA fighter. I didn’t wrestle. When the guys he fought were in the wrestling room, I was boxing the whole neighbourhood and boxing every pro I could find.”
Jake Paul vs Nate Diaz is live on talkSPORT on Sunday 6 August from 4am