UFC fan favourite Nate Diaz has been backed to leave the promotion and challenge internet star Jake Paul in boxing.
Diaz has been fighting in the UFC since 2007 but has one fight left on his current deal.
UFC president Dana White revealed the promotion team are working on a fight for Diaz, meaning he will likely be a free agent after his next octagon appearance, as the Mirror reports.
This has put Diaz’s highly anticipated trilogy fight with rival Conor McGregor in question as the Irishman continues to recover from the leg break he suffered in July.
But former UFC lightweight Josh Thomson – the only man to knockout Diaz – thinks the Stockton native will box Paul after fighting out of his UFC contract.
He told ‘ Weighing In ‘: “He’s leaving the UFC, he’s fighting Jake Paul. Just stop, ok. This is his last fight, he’s not fighting in the UFC anymore. He’s gonna leave and he’s gonna fight Jake Paul.
“He’s just trying to get a fight to get out the door, he’s done with MMA. He knows that fight is gonna make him double then he’d make [against McGregor].
“Conor’s not that draw anymore that he once was. Conor can’t get out of his contract, he’s on an eight or ten fight deal I believe. So he’s stuck with the UFC forever.
“Speaking from a Nate point of view, I think Nate’s gonna leave and end up fighting Jake Paul in boxing.”
Diaz and Tony Ferguson seemingly agreed to fight each other last week on social media, but White said that fight is not being discussed.
The 36-year-old made his return to the UFC in June after over 18-months away from the cage, losing a decision to Leon Edwards at UFC 263.
Thomson thinks Diaz could make upwards of three times the money to box Paul then he would for a trilogy against McGregor.
He also thinks that if Diaz beats Paul a trilogy with McGregor could take place could take place in the ring, not the octagon.
“I know he can make anymore from between $10 to $15 million to do that one fight versus him having to fight Conor and make $2 million, maybe $4 million,” he continued.
“Why? When he can fight one time in boxing against somebody who he’s got a lot more experience against and against somebody his brother knows.
“If Nate goes and beats Jake Paul, then I can see Dana saying ‘ok let’s fight Nate in boxing’. I couldn’t see him doing it before, he has to beat Jake Paul first.
“If he beats Jake Paul I can see him riding Conor in to be like ‘Nate and [Conor] in boxing makes sense’. It’s a trilogy fight but not a trilogy fight because it’s in boxing not in MMA.”
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