Nate Diaz will make his long-awaited return to the cage on one of MMA’s biggest stages.
Madison Square Garden will be the site of Diaz’s first fight since August 2016, the UFC announced Friday. The UFC veteran will face Dustin Poirier on Nov. 3 at UFC 230, the promotion’s third event at MSG.
A longtime favorite among dedicated fans, Diaz (19-11) became a transcendent star in March 2016 when he upset Conor McGregor in a welterweight bout at UFC 196, submitting the then-featherweight champion in the second round and turning the MMA world on its head. The pair met again in August 2016, again at welterweight. That time, McGregor was able to outlast and outpoint Diaz over five rounds in a majority decision.
While McGregor has stayed somewhat busy since their 2016 bouts — first winning the UFC lightweight title before losing to Floyd Mayweather in a big-money boxing match in August 2017 — Diaz has stayed mostly off the radar. He hasn’t fought since his loss to McGregor and previously aimed for a trilogy fight with the Irishman, but now will return to action with a chance to make a run at the lightweight title.
Poirier (24-5, 1 NC) will come into the bout on an impressive hot streak, his last loss coming back in August 2016 when he was knocked out by Michael Johnson. He’s finished each of his last three bouts by TKO, including a July victory over former champion Eddie Alvarez his last time out.
A middleweight bout between veteran Derek Brunson and rising prospect Israel Adesany also was announced for UFC 230, which still does not have a main event.
Brunson (18-6) is hoping to get back in the middleweight title picture after his knockout loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in January. He was expected to fight Antonio Carlos Junior on Aug. 4 at UFC 227, but pulled out of the bout with an eye injury.
Adesany is 14-0 since turning pro in 2012. The Nigerian-born New Zealander has a full combat sports résumé, including 62 professional kickboxing bouts and six pro boxing contests. He is 3-0 since joining the UFC, most recently beating Brad Tavares via unanimous decision.
This is the UFC’s third visit to Madison Square Garden since MMA was legalized in New York in 2016. The two previous events — UFC 205 in 2016 and UFC 217 in 2017 — were among the promotions biggest of the year. Each featured three title fights and some of the biggest names in the sport.
The first card at MSG, featuring McGregor vs. Alvarez in the main event, set a promotional and venue record for live gate (over $17 million) and drew 20,247 fans. The second event, with Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping atop the marquee, brought in 18,201 fans and a live gate of $6,105,306.