Is Nick Diaz Worth $500,000?
By Connor Woodard
The Diaz brothers have never been a pair to shy away from asking for what they believe that they’re entitled to, even if those demands are often rather unrealistic. Sometimes these requests are granted, such as the case of Nick Diaz getting a title shot against Georges St-Pierre, despite coming off of a loss. Sometimes they are flatly denied, like the recent Nate Diaz requests for a pay raise. In a recent interview, Nick Diaz stated that he has no desire to fight for less than $500,000, or for a title shot.
At first glance, this seems like a classic Diaz statement; one of those long-winded, rambling statements, filled with bizarre life stories, poorly articulated opinions, and unrealistic demands. After all, a flat $500,000 is a pretty massive amount of money for an MMA fighter to make in the current climate of fighter salaries. That’s more than almost any champion or major draw makes right now (before Pay-Per-View points). However, 500k might actually be a fairly reasonable request for Diaz, given the circumstances.
How many fighters actually make the UFC money with their presence on a card? Probably, not that many. With the cutting of fighter like Jon Fitch, Yushin Okami, and Jake Shields, The UFC stressed that the fighters, despite top-ten fighters, simply weren’t worth the money that they were paying them. But Diaz is not one of those fighters. Nick, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his bizarre nature, is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. He drives massive web traffic, and dominates fan polls, despite not having fought in over a year. Diaz himself commented on the popularity, telling MMA Fighting “I feel like this whole popularity thing keeps escalating, too. It’s weird.” Now, more than ever, the UFC needs stars to garner Pay-Per-View buys, and Diaz is one of the few who can do so. Does he deserve more money than the workhorses of the division, those top-10 fighters like Robbie Lawler or Tyron Woodley, who have fought multiple times per year, against increasingly difficult competition? From a fairness or a sporting perspective, absolutely not. Diaz has fought twice in the last two years, and has lost both times. However, as long as the UFC operates with a business model that is dependant on pay-per-view buys, drawing power will always outstrip fairness. World Series of Fighting Lightweight Nick Newell put the situation into perspective quite well, saying on Twitter “James Toney’s sloppy slow ass got [$500,000] for his predictable mma debut loss. Why not Diaz?”
Financial drawing power aside, there is another, more important, reason that Nick asking for that much money is reasonable. He doesn’t want to fight. In fact, according to the interview, Nick never really wanted to fight, saying “I’m not in love with fighting. I never was. That’s crazy. I don’t love to fight; I don’t want to fight.” While this may be a surprising sentiment coming from Diaz, given his obvious skill, his lifelong dedication to martial arts, and his apparent “fight anywhere” Stockton mentality, it’s really a pretty rational way of looking at things. After all, fighting professionally is a rather insane career choice. Unlike his brother Nate, Nick isn’t demanding a contract negotiation that would really make no sense. Nick has simply made it clear that he is retired, and he has his price for coming back. For now, that price is $500,000 or a title shot. And while the price may seem ridiculous to some, it’s a price that only Nick can set.