Even though he’s finally set to return to the UFC cage in August for the first time in three years, Nate Diaz is still as elusive as ever. Reporter Gareth A. Davies learned that the hard way when he ended up travelling all over Northern California in an attempt to interview the media shy fighter. He never did sit down with the younger Diaz brother, but he did talk to a lot of the guys in Nate’s Skrap Pack including Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields.
Melendez is unsurprisingly high on Nate’s return to action and thinks he poses the greatest challenge to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov of the current challenger crop. That’s why he’s way more interested in Nate vs. Khabib than a trilogy fight against Conor McGregor (a sentiment Nate seems to share).
“I believe that trilogy is there,” Melendez said. “Just like my fight with Diego Sanchez is always there regardless. Just like Nick’s fight with Georges St-Pierre is always there. They could do it ten years down the road but I think it’s there. I’d really like to see Nate fight whoever he wants. Yes, Conor, but I want to see him fight Khabib.”
”I think [Nate]’s a grappler, he welcomes the ground,” Melendez continued. “The only one who welcomes the ground like him is Tony Ferguson. He’s a guy you don’t want to stand with, but then you take him down and you want to get out of that guard. Nate is dangerous. I want to see Nate and Khabib right now. I’ll watch Conor and Nate up to ten years down the road.”
Melendez also commented on the idea of a Skrap Pack vs. Straight Blast Gym event where the best of both camps fight, saying it has always been a dream of his. And ‘dream’ seems like the right word because it seems nigh impossible in reality due to the Skrap Pack being spread out across various promotions.
Also in the unlikely pile: the possibility of a Nick Diaz return. Last we saw from Nick he had no interest in hurting anyone, which we can respect. He was also partying hard and clearly drunk, which has been the story of his Snapchat for the last couple of years. Not as great. But Melendez gave a positive update.
”Nick is back in Lodi,” Gilbert said. “He’s a ninja. I have a feeling he’s getting ready. I don’t know what for. It could just be for himself personally, but I think he might be getting into shape and getting back into a routine of training.”
Read the full Davies feature here for more of his adventures chasing the ghost that is Nate Diaz down.