Over a year removed from his most recent Octagon outing, veteran Ultimate Fighter 5 victor, Nate Diaz is still calling the shots ahead of his return to active competition — but insists he won’t be standing opposite past-foe, Conor McGregor or Tony Ferguson next. 

With his last appearance coming at UFC 244 back in November of 2019 in New York, Diaz met with Floridian striker, Jorge Masvidal for the symbolic BMF championship in the Madison Square Garden event headliner — dropping a third-round doctor’s stoppage defeat in a one-sided showing.

Despite original plans to possibly run that pairing in 2020, the matchup failed to ever materialise, with the promotion now expected to link Masvidal with former American Top Team teammate and interim welterweight champion, Colby Covington in a grudge match sometime this year.

During a recent interview with ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani, Diaz explained how he hopes to feature at least twice in the Octagon this year, with plans in place for him to make a comeback as soon as April or May coming. And in regards to a potential welcoming party, the 35-year-old hopes to see a failed UFC 230 bout against recent UFC 257 winner and former interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier rescheduled at a 170-pound welterweight limit.

In the days following Poirier’s spectacular knockout win over common-foe, the aforenoted, McGregor at the ‘Fight Island’ pay-per-view return for the year, many began to speculate as to who the Dubliner could face next — with many landing on a trilogy, rubber-match with Diaz next.

Fellow Californian, Ferguson recently took a shot at Diaz, claiming all the Stockton native did was “bitch out of fights“, however, neither McGregor nor the former interim champion are on Diaz’s radar next.  

I’m sure we probably will fight (again) one day eventually too,” Diaz said in regards to another fight with McGregor. “But at the time right now — it’s not the time. You’ve (McGregor) been finished off left and right, you know, I’m going to have to get finished a few times before we fight again. When the time is right the time is right. But I think nows the time for bigger, better stuff to go on — different stuff.

While he expressed his admiration for a fellow veteran like Ferguson, Diaz also insisted that the time frame for a fight against the Oxnard native didn’t make sense.

Yeah I like Tony Ferguson, he’s been around for a long time like I have too,” Diaz said. “But the time is not right — right nows not the time for — yeah he just lost to (Charles) Oliveira, that’s who I’d like to fight. I think Oliveira is the best fight right now, and Dustin Poirier.

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.