Nate Diaz is back in the Octagon years after the two most lucrative struggles of his career, and Anthony Pettis' jiu-jitsu coach Daniel Wanderley thinks the nature of his animosity towards "Show" is jealousy.
Diaz began targeting a fight with Pettis after watching "Showtime" successfully defend his UFC lightweight title with a guillotine drowning of his teammate Gilbert Melendez in 2014. From that point on, Wanderley says, Diaz took the test of Pettis's success as a UFC. star.
"He's a little jealous. Wanderley told MMA Fighting ahead of Saturday night's UFC 241 in Anaheim." In a recent interview he said that Anthony was out of nowhere and suddenly he was on the Wheaties box. I think there's some concern there, he's at the top and Nate has been working hard for years. Anthony came from the bottom just like Nate, he came from nowhere. He's always on the top, he's become a champion, and I think that can't swallow Nate. He could not become champion at 155.
"Nate talked for a long time, saying Anthony didn't look him in the eyes," he continued, "But the truth is, when we got to the Ultimate Warrior, we spent six weeks there and we never had any problems with Nate. After that, he would show us his finger whenever he saw us and talked trash online. This is what motivated Anthony to continue this fight. There is something personal about them. Anthony wants to show him that it is time. He asked for it and now he will receive it. . "
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach was a member of Pettis' coaching staff on The Ultimate Fighter reality show five years ago, and trapped Carla Esparza in all of her TUF races before winning the strawweight championship. Wanderley says the relationship between his team and Diaz's crew during the TV show was good, but everything changed after Pettis and Melendez met in the Octagon.
"Melendez and Jake Shields are very nice guys, they all talked to us on the show, except (Diaz) and Kron (Gracie)," Wanderley said. "Kron doesn't talk to anyone. They didn't talk to me, for example. They had that kind and respectful rivalry without animosity. Nate even came to talk to me after the show.
"I think Nate was a little upset about that fight with Melendez and wanted to make up for the loss. That's why he started talking rubbish at Anthony online, calling him in interviews."
After making a career at lightweight, Pettis made a huge impact in the welterweight division by removing Stephen Thompson with a second-round knockout in March. Even if Wanderley isn't expecting a win over Diaz to move him up the rankings, his share would definitely rise given Diaz's stellar power in the sport after the two clashes with Conor McGregor.
The 170-pound weight class is currently stacked with a long list of deserving title contenders, but Wanderley would not be surprised to see Pettis jump the line for a title soon as he did not cut much weight to fight at 170 pounds.
"Anthony doesn't need to cut weight to fight at heavyweight, he can phone at the notice of a week or two and still weigh in," Wanderley said. "Also the fact that he is a former lightweight champion helps him. It's about the right time at the right time to jump on the chance."
Wanderley has been working on Pettis's jiu-jitsu for years at Roufusport, but does not expect his protégé to go for a take-off against co-black belt Diaz in Anaheim.
"They have similar styles, they both have good jiu-jitsu, they are finishers, but they usually only go ashore when their opponents go for a takedown," Wanderley said. "They both prefer to fight with their feet, and so I hope this fight plays out. We're betting on a knockout victory for Anthony."