Morning Report: Stephen Thompson makes his case for welcoming Nick Diaz back to the UFC

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Earlier this week, Nick Diaz made headlines when it was announced that he is targeting a return to MMA in early 2021. The announcement quickly raised skepticism from some but equally as much hand-raising from others who would like the opportunity to welcome the elder Diaz back to welterweight division.

Consider Stephen Thompson to be in the latter camp.

Thompson has recently been rumored as a possible opponent for Leon Edwards, however, speaking with Submission Radio on Tuesday, “Wonderboy” said that he wasn’t particularly interested in that fight and would much prefer a bout with Nick Diaz, if he’s actually coming back.

“Not really,” Thompson said about if he was interested in facing Edwards. “If I were to be honest, if he ever comes back, Nick Diaz would be a really good fight, an interesting fight, for sure. I said something on Twitter the other day about ‘I would welcome him back to the division, for sure.’ . . .

“I didn’t believe (he was actually coming back), but if he was planning on it, even if he’s thinking about it, I wanted to put my name out there. That’s a guy who has been in the game a long time, he’s a veteran, he’s fought some really good guys. I love the Diaz brothers. Their whole demeanor, their attitude, that’s just who they are. They’re not faking anything about it and you’ve got to respect that.

“So at first I was like, and I still kind of am, I just don’t believe it. But I want to put my name out there if he was willing to come back.”

Thompson’s skepticism is well-founded. Diaz has not competed since January of 2015, but he has teased returns on a number of occasions since then. Obviously, those never bore any fruit and such has been the frequency of these events that even UFC President Dana White isn’t willing to get his hopes up about a return. Then there is the matter of if Diaz would even be interested in a fight with Thompson. But Diaz is reportedly eyeing fighters at the top of the division for his return, and Wonderboy believes he would be the right opponent for Diaz if that is true.

“I think it would be a great test back for him,” Thompson said. “I’m ranked No. 6 right now. Obviously, he’s trying to move up the rankings, if he beats somebody in the top-10, maybe one or two more fights and he could be fighting for the title because he’s got a name. We’ve seen guys do that, guys who are popular in the division.”

The other side of that coin though is why would Thompson be interested in a fight with Diaz? At 37 years old, the former two-time welterweight title challenger has to be looking to put together another title run, and aside from having not fought in six years, Diaz hasn’t won in almost a decade. That doesn’t bother Thompson though who says he’d like the fight because of the interesting style matchup it presents.

“Just from looking back at his old fights, he’s obviously got a really long range, he’s got cardio for days, he beats people with volume,” Thompson said. “It’s not like he hits you with that one-hitter-quitter knockout, he breaks you down over and over and over. You’ve seen him do that with high-level strikers. He comes forward and beats you with volume. So for a guy like that, you’re gonna have to use something that’s longer than his arms, which are my legs. So my movement, my leg kicks.

“I just think it would be an exciting fight for those true martial artists out there who just love the chess match, love the game. That’s what makes the fight game fun for me, trying to figure out my opponent.”

Of course, all of this depends on Nick Diaz actually returning to the cage, and if he doesn’t Thompson is prepared to face whoever. He’s just ready to fight again.

“At this point, I don’t care,” Thompson said. “UFC, just give me somebody. I’m ready to go out there and scrap.”


MUST-READ STORIES

Results. Tafon Nchukwi caps finish-heavy night at the Contender Series with head-kick KO.

Wolf tickets. Dana White reacts to Nick Diaz’s potential return: ‘I don’t have any expectations, whatsoever’.

Champion. Dominick Reyes puts Jon Jones behind him: ‘In order to be the next great champion, I’ve got to move on’.

Chosen One. Tyron Woodley vows to fans ‘I will let my hands go’ in Colby Covington fight.

Accident. Randy Couture to undergo surgery after ATV accident, expected to make full recovery.

Deal. XFC announces November relaunch, agreement with NBC Sports.


VIDEO STEW

Between the Links.

Contender Series announcement.

Craziest finishes in Bellator history.

Borrachinha is doing a good job of promoting this fight.

Khabib speaking before his father’s memorial MMA tournament.


LISTEN UP

The Bash. Interviews with Gerald Meerschaert and Brian Kelleher.

Fights Gone By. Discussing UFC Vegas 9 and Michel Pereira.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Lamas statement.

Leon responds.

Stockton’s finest.

Conor’s response.

Diego on Leon Edwards.

This man does not lack confidence.

Ready to step in.

Supporting your friends.

Georges St-P-Hair.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Danaa Batgerel (8-2) vs. Kyler Philips (7-1); UFC Fight Night, Oct. 3.

Liana Jojua (8-3) vs. Miranda Maverick (7-2); UFC 254, Oct. 24.

Rachael Ostovich (4-5) vs. Gina Mazany (6-4), UFC Fight Night, Nov. 28.

Carla Esparza (17-6) vs. Amanda Ribas (10-1); UFC 256, Dec. 12.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

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