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Dana White on Nate Diaz: ‘I don’t know how long we’re going to play this game’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nate Diaz's ongoing contract issues came to a head on Tuesday, when the popular UFC lightweight was quietly removed from the promotion's official rankings, where he had previously sat at No. 5 in his division since viciously knocking out Gray Maynard in late November.

The move came a day after fellow lightweight contender TJ Grant was similarly removed, although the two situations differ as Grant has been sidelined for nearly a year with lingering concussion symptoms, while Diaz has engaged in a public back-and-forth with UFC officials regarding a desire to renegotiate his contract.

Promotion officials have thus far balked at Diaz's request, and on Wednesday, UFC President Dana White addressed the issue on UFC Tonight.

"Everybody's talking about Nate Diaz being removed. So was TJ Grant. TJ Grant was removed too, for inactivity," White said. "Early on, we let (former champion Dominick Cruz, who is currently the No. 9 ranked bantamweight) hold the title and stay in the rankings for as long as we did. It's unfair to the guys who are active. And when you're in a situation like TJ Grant, who has an injury that's pretty serious, we don't know when he's coming back, you take him out of the rankings.

"When he does come back and starts to fight, he'll get whatever position he's in the rankings again after his first fight back. And the same for Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz is in this position where he's turning down fights, hasn't accepted any fights, has been inactive, and we don't know how long he's going to be inactive. So you take him off the rankings. When he comes in and fights his next fight, they'll rank him again after his fight."

Diaz (17-9) holds a 12-7 record over the course of his eight-year UFC career. He has become a fan favorite over that stretch, as well as becoming one of the biggest draws in the UFC lightweight division due to the exciting style which has earned him 11 post-fight bonuses.

Diaz signed a new contract with the UFC in August 2012 prior to his fight against then-lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC on FOX 5, which he ultimately lost via unanimous decision.

Of late, Diaz has repeatedly voiced his displeasure with the UFC and even tweeted a request asking for his release -- a request which was quickly shot down.

"You know how it is," White said on Wednesday. "You saw what's happened on Twitter and all of these things. He wants to be released, he wants to be paid more money, he wants all this stuff. He just signed a new contract. He's under a new contract right now and we offer him fights. He says he doesn't turn down the fights because nobody responds.

"Just because you don't respond doesn't mean you didn't turn down the fight! Not responding means you turned it down. I don't know how long we're going to play this game, but there's no sense in hurting the other fighters that are staying active and working their way up in the rankings, for a guy who's inactive and we don't know when he's going to fight again. He's still under contract."

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