SPORTS

Jorge Masvidal vs. Robbie Lawler? Or Masvidal vs. Demian Maia? With Nick Diaz out, it could happen

With an impressive win over Donald Cerrone in this past weekend’s UFC on FOX 23 co-headliner, rising welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal could soon get another high-profile matchup.

According to UFC President Dana White, with Nick Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC) apparently uninterested in a rematch with former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler (27-11 MMA, 12-5 UFC) or a bout with contender Demian Maia (24-6 MMA, 18-6 UFC), Masvidal (32-11 MMA, 9-4 UFC) could be the benefactor.

Lawler hasn’t fought since a July 2016 title loss to Tyron Woodley, but he’s ready for a return to the cage. According to White, Diaz, who scored a stunning knockout of Lawler 13 years ago at UFC 47, had first dibs.

“I offered Nick Diaz the Lawler fight, and he turned it down,” he told UFC.com’s “UFC Unfiltered” podcast. “Lawler accepted the fight. Lawler accepted the fight, and Nick turned it down, so I’m looking for something else for Lawler right now.”

White isn’t sure why Diaz, who hasn’t fought since a no-contest with Anderson Silva in early 2015, nixed the bout.

“They were terrorizing me, saying, ‘We want a fight. We want a fight,’” White said.

In fact, White said, they wanted to announce the Diaz vs. Lawler II during this past month’s UFC on FOX 22 event in Sacramento, Calif. It likely would have been a friendly crowd for the Stockton-based Diaz, who recently concluded his latest drug suspension for marijuana and reached an agreement to pay off his outstanding fine with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. But once White offered the matchup, he said he quit getting a response from the Diaz camp.

“I got Robbie Lawler to accept the fight,” he said. “I called (the Diaz camp), and they turned it down, and they’ve been radio silent on me ever since.”

White said he then offered Diaz a fight with Maia, and he said he still got no response.

Diaz vs. Lawler II or Diaz vs. Maia would’ve been one of the highest-profile non-title welterweight matchups available in the UFC. But with Diaz apparently not interested, White suggested Masvidal, who picked up his third straight victory with his “Performance of the Night” win over Cerrone (32-8 MMA, 19-5 UFC), could get one of the matchups.

“If Nick doesn’t take it, I’ll give it to Masvidal,” said White, though it wasn’t clear if he was referring to Lawler or Maia – or both.

Regardless, following UFC on FOX 23, Masvidal challenged White to a $200,000 bet to find a 170-pounder who could beat him. White’s unlikely to put himself in a position where he needs to collect a six-figure bet from one of his fighters, but with Lawler or Maia, Masvidal would certainly get the type of tough and highly ranked opponent he’s calling for.

Lawler is No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, and Maia is No. 5. Masvidal is currently unranked, but with his TKO victory over No. 7-ranked Cerrone, he could vault into the top 10 when the rankings are updated later today.