Floyd Mayweather fought for the second time in RIZIN last September, which was technically an exhibition that ended up with another knocked out Japanese star. Former PRIDE and now RIZIN head Noboyuki Sakakibara expressed interest in bringing Mayweather back, and he already has a high-profile opponent in mind: Nate Diaz.
“Nick and Nate, they both have a great personality, their fighting style is very exciting, and we’ve known them since the PRIDE days,” Sakakibara told MMA Mania. “We had Nick fight in PRIDE before and we’ve known them from way back. So, if we were to do something with Floyd again, we always have to talk about an opponent.
“We do think we’re at a point where we can’t just only focus on the Japanese market anymore,” he continued. “We have to target the international audience. So, with that said, Floyd’s opponent doesn’t have to be a Japanese fighter anymore. It’s just one possibility thinking about the future. Not only Floyd’s opponent, but Nate Diaz as an individual has a great amount of character, fight style, and a great following internationally. So, as an individual, he would definitely be somebody we’d be interested to be talking to.”
Diaz recently completed the final bout on his UFC contract, but will still need to clear the UFC’s exclusive negotiation and matching periods before he’s truly a free agent. Diaz won’t have a shortage of suitors, but Sakakibara believes that Mayweather match up is the fight to make.
“It’s always nice to show the Mayweather exhibition challenges and whatever we can do to exceed people’s expectations, that’s the goal in terms of announcing a fight,” Sakakibara said. “Whatever gathers attention, surprises people, is what we want to shoot for. With that said, it would be interesting to start talking to Nate and bring up the idea to Floyd.
“Nate Diaz might even have a chance of beating Floyd, you know?” he said. “And for us to promote that ‘what if’ factor is definitely something that we need to promote for these exhibitions against Floyd. Making the people think maybe ... that ‘if’ factor, Nate Diaz can bring all of that, so, we do think it’s a great idea.”
Interestingly enough, while Sakakibara says he really wants to “focus on the North American market,” he also recently met with Bellator President Scott Coker, who he has co-promoted events with in the past.
Both promoters teased a year end collaboration and a “big surprise” after they met in Hawaii.
“Working on some big business for Bellator MMA and RIZIN at the end of the year. Looking forward to sharing details soon,” Coker wrote.
“I’m back in Hawaii to meet Scott for final negotiations and adjustments before the end of the year,” Sakakibara tweeted in Japanese. “Please look forward to the big surprise that will be released.”
年末に向けての最後の交渉と調整の為、スコットに会いに再びハワイに来ました！— NOBUYUKI SAKAKIBARA (@nobu_sakakibara) October 10, 2022