Former UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen has praised Nate Diaz for being an “unintentional genius.”
Diaz’s stock went up massively earlier this month when he defeated Anthony Pettis by decision at UFC 241. Calling out Jorge Masvidal after the fight, UFC president Dana White finally admitted The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 winner is now a “needle mover.”
Talking on a recent edition of his “You’re Welcome” podcast, Sonnen believes there is nothing pre-planned about Diaz, he’s admired for being “real” and “authentic.”
“I just think when you look at somebody like Nate Diaz, who unintentionally, many people will believe he’s a marketing genius and many people will believe he just stumbled into something. I believe he’s an unintentional genius. What he does is absolutely brilliant, I just don’t think there was a strategy ahead of time.”
The fight with Pettis was Diaz’s first since losing to Conor McGregor in their rematch at UFC 202 in August 2016. Diaz’s future seemed uncertain in his three years away from the cage, but it’s clear the 34-year-old has hit superstardom in the UFC, and Sonnen feels it’s because he is a “real guy” with “real problems.”
“One thing about him is he’s real. He’s authentic. When he speaks and he says something, there’s no tongue-in-cheek. There’s no winking, there’s no trying to get eyeballs and sell pay-per-views. There’s a real guy with real guy problems, from a real tough city in a real tough sport that’s trying to get by.
“There’s just something there that people can relate to and it’s special. It’s not overly creative, it’s not manufactured in any way. It’s basic, it’s humble, it’s clean, it’s honest. It’s compelling.”