Ever since the UFC sold to an investment group led by WME-IMG for a then-record $4 billion dollars, dissension among the ranks has seemingly been at an all-time high amongst fighters. For many of them, it was a total shock to see such a high price tag attached to the UFC, especially when contrasted with the average yearly earnings of an athlete within the organization. But Nate Diaz wasn’t surprised.
Diaz has been beating the drum about fighter inequity for years. It’s a major reason why he only fought twice in the months between Dec. 2013 and Feb. 2016. And when he looks around at the game now and sees fighters only starting to pick up on those issues since the sale — the same fighters who stayed so quiet during his own UFC stand-offs, which derailed his career until the Conor McGregor fights — he simply can’t muster up much sympathy.
“It’s the fighters’ fault for not speaking up though,” Diaz said Wednesday on a special edition of The MMA Hour. “My mind wasn’t blown (about the sale). I could tell it’s worth that much. You can tell when — look at what I just said about (appearing on) Conan and Kimmel in the same week (before UFC 202). You know what I’m saying? I’m like, what the f*ck, is that not worth something? You should be paid out if people who are famous like that are calling you. We’re in the same places.
“All the actors you meet, rappers and actresses and everybody you meet is just like, ‘what’s up?!’ They’re, like, fascinated by you. I’m like, how is this f*cking person that you’re watching on TV, who’s the most famous person you can think of, looking at you like, ‘duuuude,’ asking me about fights? No, I’m a superstar. Straight up. And a lot of fighters are. They could be, but nobody’s spitting it like that. So it’s like, if you keep treating yourself like a little slick b*tch type of fighter, then you are that. You’ve got to take it in your own hands and run over the game with it.”
Diaz pointed to Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo as examples of what he meant. Both are legendary fighters who reigned as champions for over five years in the UFC, but only in recent years did they become more willing to speak out against issues they perceived to be wrong within the organization, with Silva taking an even longer road to get to that place than Aldo.
“All these guys who were champions when I was a little broke motherf*cker, they’re all complaining now that they lost their belts and that they’re not champs and they can’t get what they want, Conor is getting all the love, and sh*t like that,” Diaz said. “I’m like, when you guys were champions — I knew they were getting paid sh*t money too for being the champions, and I was going off on myself getting sh*t money and my contract, and how it was super sorry that no one was giving us love. I was like, ‘f*ck the UFC,’ and saying all these things, and nobody was cutting me. I was getting attention and getting bigger from it, right? And I was sitting there going, why are (Jose) Aldo and (Anderson) Silva and these guys not speaking up?
“You guys have the belts. If I had the belt at that time, by now I’d be a f*cking 50-time millionaire. You know what I’m saying? I’d be crazy rich. I’d be like, nah, I ain’t fighting nobody until you pay me out like a motherf*cker. They didn’t say sh*t, and now they’re all whining and complaining. I’m like, you should’ve stepped your game up. I was a perfect example. I should’ve been fired for hella stuff. If I was them, I would’ve been like, ‘man, they’re not even firing him? I’m going to pop off and I’m going to get mine.’
“And Aldo crying about McGregor, I’m like, bro, it’s your fault. You took him on that f*cking ride around the world and let him punk you everywhere. You’re responsible. What the f*ck are you crying for? I don’t even know if he’s crying anymore — he got over it and he probably realized it. But I’m like, bro, you just made a star out of that guy. I wish I had someone to just run around all over the country who I could just slap around. You know what I’m saying? Now I’m the most famous guy in the world because all I had to do was just slap this little f*cker all around the whole place. And I don’t mean to diss Aldo. My bad. But let’s talk the truth. This is the real hour, motherf*cker.”
In general, Diaz said he can appreciate that fighters are willing to speak their minds more these days, but at this point, after going through the ups and downs he has with the UFC, he realized that most of all it’s important to look after yourself in the fight game. That’s part of the reason why he’s apathetic about unionization efforts like the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association and others, all of which have thus far failed to make the mark they promised.
“Honestly, I wish everybody would’ve stepped their game up together a long time ago, but I’m not here to save the world,” Diaz said. “But I noticed by thinking about other people and the whole fight game, don’t no one care about you. So you’ve got to do it for yourself, by yourself, and then you could help somebody else.
“I’m helping my team the best that I can. I’m trying to f*cking get them into big fight leagues, I’m trying to get them sponsors and whatever I can off of my name. I’m going to break it off for my homeboys. But as far as the whole fight game goes, hopefully one day (fighters come together), but I can’t be sitting there wasting time thinking about it, because I’ve got stuff to do. If I’m sitting there thinking about that all day, I’m not going to get stuff done.”