Have you been wondering where the Diaz Brothers have been for the past year or so? The once prolific Nick and Nate made a couple million dollars off big fights with Georges St-Pierre and Conor McGregor respectively, and are now sitting on the sidelines waiting for another singular big money fight to come along. How big money does it have to be? For Nate Diaz, the number sits around $15 million.
“15 million easy,” Nate’s boxing coach Richard Perez told Submission Radio. “Easy. He’s a star right now. McGregor can’t even fight right now, he got suspended. And Woodley’s trying to fight everybody … I mean, he’s got the belt. So what? The belt don’t mean nothing anymore. It’s about who you’re fighting (if you want) to make the money.”
“Nathan is on top and he needs to get paid what he deserves,” Perez said. “People want to see him and he’s popular right now, just like McGregor. So why doesn’t UFC do it when they made big money on the show when Nathan fights and McGregor fights? Even if Nathan fights Woodley it’s going to be up there because of Nathan. So they’re gonna probably make, oh gosh, pay-per-view is going to be just out there because they’re curious on what Nathan’s going to do with Woodley. So they’re making big money, they’re pocketing a lot of it. You guys know it too.”
To put things in perspective, Nate’s two fights against Conor McGregor were the biggest PPV sellers in the history of the UFC. UFC 196 broke the all time record with 1.3 million buys and the rematch at UFC 202 did it again with 1.65 million. While Nate’s asking price of $15 million dollars may sound like a lot, keep in mind those two events grossed the UFC somewhere in the region of $174 million dollars. The eventual third fight is probably going to rake in another hundred mil.
Does Nate Diaz deserve $15 million per fight? In any world where the money the guy’s already made for his bosses matters, he absolutely does. But the UFC is notoriously tightfisted when it comes to money, and they’re currently engaged in a behind the scenes struggle to keep fighter pay down following their $4.3 billion sale that made many of their top athletes realize they’re getting the screw.
Unfortunately, this battle is keeping guys like Nate out of action. Could Nate be a huge star for the UFC and move lots of pay-per-views? Probably, but the UFC isn’t interested in paying him like one because of the potential reverberations down the roster. It’s a bit backwards and short sighted, but it’s been hard up until now to criticize the UFC’s business acumen when they continue to rake in money hand over fist.
Still, with such a small slice of the financial pie going to the fighters (even the fighters that move the needle) it may be time for an upwards adjustment. By refusing to pay their top names like stars, the UFC may be actively keeping their fighters from hitting that next level. And that’s no good for anyone, not the fighters, the fans, or the UFC.