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UFC's Nick Diaz wants Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler winner

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It might seem an insane premise, but that’s never stopped Nick Diaz before.

The unpredictable Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight fighter from Stockton has lost his last two fights and doesn’t even occupy a position in the freshly updated UFC top-15 rankings.

Yet, Diaz (27-9-1) is planning to take a seat in front of the octagon at American Airlines Arena in Dallas on March 15, making it clear he wants to fight the winner of the welterweight title fight between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.

Photos: Scenes from UFC 170

The welterweight belt was vacated by longtime champion Georges St-Pierre for personal reasons after he survived a split-decision victory over Hendricks in November.

Diaz’s argument for a title shot is based both on the fact the former Strikeforce welterweight champion and St-Pierre drew more than 1 million pay-per-view buyers to their March 2013 fight in Canada and that he feels his fighting style is can’t-miss entertainment against whoever emerges as champion.

“A lot of the fan base can conceive why I’d be a good fight for either guy,” Diaz told The Times in a Saturday interview at UFC 170 in Las Vegas. “Either one of these fights would be a good fight for me.”

In 2004, Diaz beat the favored Lawler by technical knockout in UFC 47. Lawler tried to punch Diaz, missed, and absorbed a devastating right hook to end the matter in the second round.

“I’m the No. 1 draw in this weight division, that’s just the way it is,” Diaz said. “I win by submissions, knockouts. There’s guys ranked above me, but no one’s interested in seeing them fight. They want to see me fight. You want to make a good fight, this’ll be a good fight.”

UFC President Dana White, who's had a turbulent relationship with the 30-year-old fighter,
who has blown off a media tour and tested positive for marijuana use, isn’t acting as if he’s in a hurry to schedule Diaz’s next fight.

“Haven’t thought about Diaz,” White told The Times in a text message Monday, “and won’t
till I hear from him.”

UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said Diaz is under a long-term deal, adding, “I don’t know
what he wants to do.”

Told that Diaz wants the Hendricks-Lawler winner, Fertitta answered, “I’m sure he does.”

Yet, Diaz’s popularity among MMA fans, rooted in his fighting ability and anti-authority attitude, would make him a compelling option compared to even second-ranked welterweight Carlos Condit.

While Hendricks swings a violently hard left hand, Diaz is a distinguished enough boxer to consider turning pro in that sport. He’s challenged former light-heavyweight boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. to a boxing match.

On the canvas, Hendricks’ NCAA-champion wrestling skill versus Diaz’s Gracie family trained jujitsu skills would be an intriguing battle.

“The guy he’s beat haven’t been stand-up guys,” Diaz said of Hendricks. “He’s a wrestler who
punches hard.”

First, it will take some Diaz-UFC communication.

“I’m not sure what the UFC’s agenda is when it comes to me,” Diaz said. “It’s their show, their press. They can change to whatever they want to do at any point. They own this thing. They can do whatever they want. If they don’t want this right now, they don’t have to do it.”

Which is one reason why Diaz is making a grass-roots push.

“It’s more about the fans wanting this,” Diaz said.

“People aren’t stupid. You can’t ignore their real, ultimate understanding. They know what’s going on. It’s mixed martial arts. The real fans of martial arts understand intuitively … there’s a connection with me.

“You know when I fight, I’m going to sell out the show. Everyone wants to see someone get knocked out or tapped out.”

Since the St-Pierre loss, Diaz said he’s helped his UFC-lightweight brother Nate open a gym and has continued training.

He said if the UFC hiatus continues, he’ll explore the Jones boxing match more fervently.

“Me calling out Roy Jones is disrespectful,” Diaz said. “But if they want to do that, want to do something like that, [combining] sports [in a boxing match], I’ll do it. I feel I’m a better stand-up fighter than Anderson Silva, who has talked about fighting Jones too.

“If you want a good MMA-boxer boxing match, there you have it.”

Jones' marketing agent, Mercedes Ganon, said Jones told her, "I'm interested," in boxing Diaz.

"Bring it all day long, Diaz or Silva," Jones said.

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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