The latest chapter in the public negotiations between the UFC and Nate Diaz played out on Thursday when UFC president Dana White confirmed that he left his recent Stockton meeting with Diaz frustrated and unable to come to terms on the blockbuster rematch between Diaz and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor.
"No, that was true," White said on FOX Sports 1's The Herd. "That was true. It wasn't necessarily as much Nate Diaz as it was the management, but yeah, I did. And the problem is -- what drives me crazy is when you have a contract. Everybody sits down at one point and we do a deal. Everybody is happy. You shake hands, you hug. And then we move onto the next fight and everybody wants to blow up the deal."
Diaz defeated McGregor in March at UFC 196, submitting the Irish sensation with a second-round rear-naked choke after replacing the injured Rafael dos Anjos on less than two week's notice. The two were booked for a rematch at UFC 200, however plans changed when McGregor refused to fly out to Las Vegas to participate in promotion and was subsequently pulled off the July 9 card.
UFC officials recently met with both Diaz and McGregor in the hopes of re-booking the fight for August 20 at UFC 202. In an appearance on The MMA Hour, Diaz said that the meeting "wasn't the best" but also "wasn't the worst," and the rift between he and the UFC has been "exaggerated" by the public. However, White indicated on Thursday that Diaz's demands have been the hold-up to finalizing the rematch, and that the UFC has begun looking at alternative opponents for McGregor in case an agreement fails to come together.
"What you try to do in a deal like this is you try to be as fair as you can be, and obviously the problem is that we have a deal," White said. "We already have a deal. [Diaz] has a contract.
"Conor has a deal. It's not like we went in and renegotiated. This was a big myth coming out of that fight. Conor McGregor has never, ever -- not only does he step up and take big fights last minute, moved up however many pounds to fight Nate and was willing to fight anybody; that's why people love Conor, because Conor will fight anybody, anywhere, anytime -- he has never come back and tried to renegotiate a contract, ever. Ever.
"So that was a big myth that he was doing that. Nate, we signed a new deal going into that fight, then he signed the contract for UFC 200. So then Conor doesn't show up for UFC 200, and now Nate is trying to blow up the deal. It's just frustrating. But listen, that's the business we're in. This is what we do. Everybody is not going to be happy all the time. It's part of the deal, so now our job is, Lorenzo (Fertitta) and I have to sit down and try to figure out how to make this deal work."
While the decision the book the Diaz-McGregor rematch initially drew criticism from fans, the drama surrounding UFC 200 seems to have propelled the match-up into one of the most anticipated fights available to the UFC in 2016. And Diaz appears to know it. On The MMA Hour, Diaz asked to be compensated fairly and said that he wanted to "maximize" his earning potential for a McGregor rematch, adding that he would be willing to walk away from the negotiating table if the UFC insists on giving him a deal less than what he feels he is worth.
With the date of UFC 202 fast approaching and the fight still in limbo, White indicated that scenario may ultimately be what happens.
"We've been going back and forth and trying to make this fight happen, but the problem is timing," White said. "Now we're running out of time, because I've already got -- this fight is supposed to be August 20th, or something like that. I've already got September 20th done. I've already got that card made, it's done, and now we're moving onto the next one. So we're going to get to a point here where we're going to run out of time and we're just not going to be able to make the fight. So Conor is going to have to pick a new opponent that he would like to fight, or lose that date."