UFC president Dana White has changed his tune regarding the potential return of Nick Diaz.
After doubting for several years that Diaz would ever fight again, White now says it appears the 37-year-old will come back to the sport before the end of 2021.
"I didn't think that it would happen, but it looks like it will. It looks like Nick Diaz will fight this year," White told UFC Arabia's Farah Hannoun, adding it's "looking promising."
White confirmed that the UFC's matchmakers have been in talks with Diaz's team, but he didn't comment further on the situation.
The UFC president met with Diaz after an April event in Jacksonville. Afterward, White said he wasn't sure how serious the veteran was about an Octagon return.
"My whole thing with Nick Diaz is I just question how bad he really wants to fight," White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto in May, according to MMA Fighting's Alexander K. Lee. "We got together, we had great conversation, talked about a possible comeback for him. I just don't know."
Diaz's manager said last September the former UFC title challenger was planning to return to the promotion in 2021.
Diaz hasn't stepped into the cage since a no-contest against Anderson Silva in January 2015. There have been talks of a return multiple times in the past six years, but nothing has come to fruition.
The Stockton native is riding a three-fight winless streak, which includes title-fight losses to Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit. Diaz was last victorious in 2011 against BJ Penn.