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Management group suing Nate Diaz, seeking more than $1 million for breach of contract

The Ballengee Group is seeking more than $1 million from Nate Diaz in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nate Diaz’s former management firm is suing the popular UFC fighter for more than $1 million, MMA Fighting confirmed Wednesday.

The Ballengee Group filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Dallas County (Texas) District Court, claiming that Diaz committed theft, breach of contract and fraud, among other charges, according to the complaint obtained by MMA Fighting. TMZ was the first to report the news.

The plaintiff claims in the complaint that Ballengee negotiated Diaz’s agreements with the UFC for his fights with Conor McGregor at UFC 196 and UFC 202 last year and never received their contracted compensation for it. Per the complaint, Diaz “unexpectedly terminated” Ballengee’s representation of him in July 2016, after the contract was already in place for UFC 202 last August.

Ballengee “advised and supported” Diaz in his deals for fights with Michael Johnson and Rafael dos Anjos, too, and was never paid for it.

“My clients performed their job, what Nate Diaz asked them to do,” Ballengee attorney Jason H. Friedman told MMA Fighting. “They are due for that.”

Diaz made $2 million in disclosed pay against McGregor at UFC 202 and $500,000 at UFC 196. He likely made more than those totals when pay-per-view revenue is added. The headlining matchups were two of the biggest money-making fights in UFC history.

Friedman confirmed that Ballengee is seeking more than $1 million from Diaz in the suit.

UFC fighters Leslie Smith and attorney Sam Awad are also listed in the lawsuit as defendants. Ballengee claims in the complaint that Awad and Diaz convinced Smith to terminate her agreement with Ballengee without paying the company what she owed it per her contract. Ballengee is claiming Smith committed theft, fraud, breach of contract and that all the defendants were part of a “civil conspiracy” to harm the company.

“They conspired to get Leslie Smith to also fire Ballengee and to not pay Ballengee,” Friedman said. “Awad, as the mastermind of the conspiracy, he and Nate left, then talked Smith into doing the same thing. You’ve got two fighters who my client successfully negotiated bouts for. I think Diaz’s fight was one of the most profitable fights of all time, from what I’ve been told. To do something like that to the guy who brought you to the show, that’s not right.”

Diaz’s spokesperson Zach Rosenfield told MMA Fighting that “we are not commenting at this time” on the lawsuit. Smith and Awad did not respond to messages asking for comment Wednesday.

Ballengee also represented Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz’s brother and another well-known UFC fighter. That relationship has been terminated, Friedman said.

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