It was a bit of a surprise when the UFC announced a UFC 241 bout between Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz at welterweight during last weekend’s pay-per-view. It’s not just the fact that Pettis will be continuing his campaign against a natural lightweight - it’s that Diaz actually agreed to fight anyone not named Conor McGregor (besides that whole brief Dustin Poirier thing).
But the bout has apparently been made, and Showtime is looking forward to it. As a guest on The MMA Show on ESPN, Pettis described the bout as “personal” and talked about the issues he’s had with Nate in the past (transcript via MMA Mania):
“I don’t even remember where it started, what event. I was the champion, but we have always had drama. And every time we saw each other it’s like something was going to happen,” he said. “It was just one of those things that he may have been jealous that I was the champ, he wanted a shot at me.”
“Then he got his McGregor fight and went MIA. That chapter never closed in my life, so for me it was something that had to happen.”
He continued on with the McGregor theme by stating that he was actually offered a fight with The Notorious One, but it didn’t come together so the Diaz fight ended up making a lot of sense:
“There were some big names thrown my way. Conor McGregor was thrown my way from Dana in August but then that didn’t happen. So I just pulled back, hung out and was training and then Nate Diaz popped up. It’s perfect.”
When asked if he preferred a fight with Conor or Diaz, he somewhat surprisingly leaned towards the Diaz brother:
“Diaz, 100 percent. I just don’t like the guy. That’s just how it is, I am not that dude, but this is just one guy I do not like,” he said, while revealing he will start his training camp as early as next week out of pure eagerness and desire to get prepared to inflict damage on Nate.
“I am going straight to work, I can’t wait to hurt this guy. This is personal fight for me, I am going to work right away. No weight cut, simply training for a fight.”
UFC 241 goes down on August 17th, and will be headlined by a heavyweight title rematch between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic.