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Nate Diaz implores UFC to let him fight out deal, but feels promotion is ‘holding me hostage’

Nate Diaz is willing to fight anyone the UFC wants to complete his current contract and take on other challenges in combat sports. But he said every time he requests a fight, he’s met with an offer for a new contract that will extend an octagon career he wants paused.

“I was trying to get this shit on the road, but they don’t want me out of contract and they’re keeping me in there and they’re holding me hostage,” Diaz said Tuesday during a special edition of The MMA Hour. “And I want out. That’s my main objective here.”

Diaz confirmed he has one fight remaining on his current contract. The only fight he’s been offered, however, has been a fight with Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 276 — one he said the welterweight star turned down. He said he has requested bouts with Vicente Luque, Tony Ferguson and several others to no avail.

The fight the UFC wants, Diaz believes, is a trilogy with his longtime rival and two-time opponent Conor McGregor, who remains on the mend from a broken leg suffered at UFC 264. Until he agrees, he believes the promotion is holding him under contract as leverage.

“They don’t want to let me out of my contract,” he said. “They want me to fight Conor. I’m not fighting Conor McGregor right now. Our timelines aren’t matching up. ... You bring yourself back to life, and I’ll be back later.”

Diaz did not offer any new details on his contract during the interview on Tuesday, such as the term of his current contract or whether it’s been extended as the UFC typically does when fighters turn down bouts. The thing he repeatedly stressed is that he’s not interested in taking more money to remain with the UFC at this point. While he’s not opposed to returning in the future, he wants to explore other avenues like boxing, jiu-jitsu and fight promotion.

Jake Paul, Dustin Poirier, Kevin Holland — all potential opponents who’ve lobbied to fight him — were just a few of the options Diaz agreed to. In the case of Paul, who offered to fight Diaz for free in the UFC in exchange for pay concessions to rank-and-file fighters, Diaz was skeptical about the fight materializing, but added, “s***, if it gets me out of my contract, let’s do this s***.”

“I’m interested in everything,” he said. “I’m interested in activity. If he’s going to be the first one to step up, I’ll fight him. I’ll fight everybody. Anyone who wants to fight, I’ll fight that’s actually talking some s*** like Jake Paul.”

The last time Diaz said he met with UFC executives Dana White and Hunter Campbell, he pitched the same message at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas. In return, he said he was offered several different opponents, all of them tied to a new contract. When he balked at that, he said the executives left him alone in his office, prompting him to allegedly make another kind of statement.

“In last meeting, [Dana] goes, ‘Let’s get you going, let’s talk in a few,’” Diaz said. “Him and Hunter ran out of the building. I was about to steal some s***. I went out in the back and took a piss.”

The UFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Diaz’s interview.

Diaz repeatedly gave thanks to his longtime promoter for allowing him the platform to be seen by millions of fans. He conceded the world’s best fighters were signed with the UFC, even if they were “used and abused” by a revolving door of signings and firings. He also said the promotion’s public and private message about his worth was contradictory.

“I appreciate the UFC, but they’re valuing me in private, but I’m devalued in the public,” he said.

When he started speaking out against the promoter, Diaz said, his salary was at $45,000 to show and $45,000 to fight then-champ Benson Henderson in 2012 (he lost the bout via decision). Every time he complained, he got a better deal.

He claimed his most recent offer is more money than anyone in the UFC is paid, with the exception of McGregor. But he is not interested right now.

“I don’t want no more money,” Diaz said. “I want to go do different stuff. I went in there and talked to them, and it’s with all due respect. ... I might just re-sign afterward, but I need out.”

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