When Nate Diaz replaced an injured Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, it propelled an already lucrative pay-per-view into a historic one. With just 10 days to promote the fight, Diaz and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor managed to elevate card's hype to a frenzied level, likely turning UFC 196 into the second-highest selling pay-per-view in UFC history.
The blockbuster success was a bit of vindication for Diaz, who spent the majority of 2014 and 2015 on the shelf due to soured contract talks with the UFC. But it was made even sweeter by the fact that only two years prior, UFC president Dana White famously told reporters in Dublin that the promotion would not renegotiate with Diaz because he was "not a needle mover."
White's statement came at a time when Diaz headlined three of his previous four events -- two on FOX, one on FOX Sports 1 -- and on Wednesday, Diaz responded to those comments.
"That's cold, Dana," he said on a special edition of The MMA Hour.
"They (the UFC) had a deal with FOX. They had to reach certain numbers. You know how the deals work with this, they have to hit certain numbers for FOX, like ratings. In this month, you've got to hit these certain numbers, or however it works. So they're putting all the headliners on the FOX shows. They're like, we'll get this guy who's the needle mover, and we won't have to pay him extra for it.
"They're like, 'this is free TV.' I'm like, wait, wait, wait, let's not get it twisted. Free for motherf*ckers at home who aren't paying for pay-per-view. But you guys are getting paid. That's how it works. So I understood what was going on. They wanted to be like, that's why you're not on pay-per-view (because you're not a needle mover). I already knew what was up. This isn't newly developed information for me. I was up on the game. Because I cussed a little and told people to f*ck off, this guy is stupid and we don't want to hear that? Like I'm some educated mother*cker talking about numbers, what do I know?"
Diaz is now using the newfound leverage from his upset win over McGregor to secure the very thing he wanted over the past few years: a big payday.
UFC officials flew to Stockton this past week to discuss plans for the rematch to take place at UFC 202. The meeting ended without a deal in place, but Diaz appeared unworried and chalked it up to business negotiations. He lamented the fact that other fighters often fail to do the same, and ultimately settle on a deal without understanding their worth.
"I remember when I realized," Diaz said. "I forget how many years ago, I sent a tweet out. I just tweeted something I thought, I can't even remember. It was about Bryan Caraway. Remember when I sent a tweet out about him? That sh*t went viral, man. People were hitting me up everywhere and I was like, that's crazy, what the f*ck? After that, I was like oh sh*t, if I say something, it'll go f*cking viral, so I would just keep my mouth shut until I had something to say, then I'd spit it on Twitter or something and it'd go everywhere. So that's when I knew, I've got a bigger following than all these motherf*ckers. If I could send a tweet out and that many people look at it, how many people are watching me fight?
"I think that's what fighters don't realize, that this is a business, and if they don't start treating it as such, no one is going to get nowhere. If you guys keep saying ‘I'll fight anybody,' of course you will. That's why you started, right? That's why I started. Like, I'll fight any-motherf*cking-body. I'm in this sh*t to be the best, mother*cker. If you're not in it to be the best mother*cker, I don't even know what the f*ck you're doing it for. If I don't think I could beat everybody, what the hell am I fighting for? I think I'll beat everybody still, in every weight class too. I'm not talking about three five-minute rounds. I'm talking about to the realness. I'll beat everybody. I'll find a way.
"Treat yourself like a business and quit f*cking (saying) ‘I'll fight for free,'" Diaz continued. "That don't help nobody. That's bad karma for you for even f*cking (saying that). Stupid ass Cowboy Cerrone says that sh*t. That's bad karma for everybody. You'll fight for free, now everybody else has got to? Why wouldn't they pay us? Because they got dumbsh*ts like you fighting for free. Start acting like a businessman and start treating yourself like a business and get your ass paid for being in an Octagon. The whole world watches you fight.
"Entertainers are there in the front row. I'm sitting there with Lil Jon and f*cking Mike Tyson and who else? Everybody. Anyone you could think of that's famous is sitting front row. Baseball players. These guys are getting paid millions of dollars, and we're entertaining the entertainers. So doesn't that make us the crème de la crème? Shouldn't we be paid the f*ck out? Why are you fighting for free, you dumbsh*t motherf*cker. That sh*t gets on my last nerve."
Diaz added that he isn't losing sleep over the idea that the McGregor rematch could pass him by. He wants to get what he feels he is worth after toppling the UFC's biggest financial draw, and he is not going to settle for a lukewarm deal just to get a paycheck.
"I'm going to maximize my potential," Diaz said." Whatever I can get out of this, I'm going to get. Rip and take. I'm not going to sit back and say I'll fight anybody. Nah, I've been there. I've done that. I don't have to say that. Now I'm like, f*ck you, pay me, motherf*cker.
"Even my last fight, they're like, ‘finally you're getting paid, congratulations.' No, that's reimbursement, is what that is. I haven't even been paid yet, and I'm going to continue to represent for my sh*t and say what's what and get what's mine, because no one wants to see no other fight."