The always-exciting discussion of when (or if) former Strikeforce welterweight champion and former UFC title contender Nick Diaz is returning to the cage has entered its next chapter.
Speaking to the media Wednesday, UFC President Dana White discussed that Diaz has been offered another fight, this time against former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard. Via Twitter:
The fight makes sense in several ways.
First and foremost, since Lombard is the on-paper top contender in the welterweight division (at least according to conventional "MMA Math") it is a fight that would instantly thrust Diaz back into the welterweight title picture. Diaz, of course, is exclusively focused on getting UFC gold, but simply isn't going to get a shot without taking another fight. This would provide a direct path to the belt.
Secondly, the fight has a built-in storyline. Jake Shields, a friend and training partner of Diaz, was recently cut from the UFC following a convincing loss to Lombard. That adds a pro wrestling-style (but actually real) revenge storyline to the fight.
Unfortunately, the chances of the fight happening are held back by the uncertainty regarding whether or not Diaz will actually return to fighting. While he has expressed interest in a comeback, he has angled exclusively for a title fight. Coming off back-to-back losses to Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre, it's hard to imagine the UFC bending to that demand.
The UFC has an enormous crop of top-level welterweights that deserve a title shot, meaning it would require a perfect storm of injuries and scheduling troubles to realistically see a Diaz vs. Hendricks title fight before Diaz earns it in the eyes of UFC management.
Stick with Bleacher Report for more information on Diaz's potential return.