A press release issued today has announced that Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz has signed to fight former IBF champion Jeff Lacy in the fall of this year. However, Diaz’s spokesman told MMAjunkie.com that Diaz is willing to forget the bout with Lacy if a fight materializes with welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. “Barring something like (UFC president) Dana White telling us, ‘Hey, we really need you to fight GSP at such-and-such a date and it conflicts with [boxing] – barring that, we’re going to fight Lacy,” said Diaz manager and trainer Cesar Gracie.
On the possibility of Diaz vacating the bout with Lacy to fight St-Pierre, Gracie said he’d informed Chagrin about the contingency and the promoter would just “have to be cool with that.”
A date and venue is set for Diaz vs. Lacy but isn’t being released. Diaz had aligned himself with boxing promoter Don Chagrin two years ago, but continued to fight and flourish in MMA, winning the Strikeforce welterweight title and defending it three times. This past December, he signed a new contract with Strikeforce that allowed him one professional boxing match in 2011.
But that was four months before ZUFFA LLC bought out Strikeforce. However, Diaz’s original contract stayed intact, and Dana White said they will honor the deal. White as I reported previously said this past week that he planned to meet with the fighter in his hometown of Stockton, Calif., to discuss future plans.
But that meeting has not materialized yet, and getting word from the UFC appears to be the only hold up on Diaz boxing. Following St-Pierre’s defeat of Jake Shields this past Saturday at UFC 129, Diaz’s has been dubbed “the only fighter under the Zuffa banner that would make an entertaining fight with St. Pierre.”
The Diaz camp hopes that both the Lacy and St-Pierre fights will happen this year. “My whole thing has been to have Nick box and then fight GSP,” Gracie said. “If [the UFC] is serious about Nick fighting GSP, and if the fight happens in the fall, then yeah, we’re probably going to go with that fight.”
Diaz, in April defended his belt with an impressive TKO of Paul Daley, has often cried about the disparity in pay between boxers and MMA fighters and complained that he is underpaid despite several six-figure payouts in his time with Strikeforce. Of his deal to fight Lacy, Gracie declined to give a specific number but said the Strikeforce champ will “definitely make more money than he does in MMA.”
Diaz’s boxing career is closer than ever to happening and Gracie said that a big-time MMA fight still has the pull to bring him back to the sport in which he began his career. “We’re trying to work with the UFC and not step on any toes over there,” he said. “It’s been a work in progress, and they probably at this point have the ultimate say.”
If Diaz walks and goes to boxing, it is going to hurt MMA slightly given that Diaz won’t be considered top tier in boxing although he trains with Andre Ward and has a great boxing pedigree outside of MMA.