The mere marketing presence of Nick and Nate Diaz will be missed in the UFC, but at the end of the day, the show must go on.
UFC President Dana White seems to have finally come to terms with the possibility that the Diaz brothers won’t be returning to the Octagon. During the UFC Fight Night 40 post-fight media scrum, White lamented the fact that two of MMA’s biggest stars were wasting their careers by purposely sitting on the sidelines:
The thing that’s sad about it is that I like [the Diaz brothers], and I used to have a really good relationship with Nate. But fighting or any other sport, this isn’t a profession. It’s not a job. It’s an opportunity to make money. It’s an opportunity to achieve great things during a short window of time. If they want to sit out their window of time for the rest of their career, that’s up to them.
A minor disagreement over dollar signs escalated into Nate asking to be released from his UFC contract back in February. Despite only being 1-2 in his last three fights, Nate felt his fighting style and overall body of work warranted a more lucrative deal.
The sudden interest in a restructured contract for Nate seems to have stemmed from his teammate Gilbert Melendez’s recent blockbuster deal. As a free agent, Melendez flirted with the idea of leaving the UFC for Bellator after receiving what he considered a lowball offer.
Bellator tried to land the lightweight star with a big contract, but the UFC intercepted the deal by matching the offer sheet and re-signing Melendez to a new deal.
Unfortunately for Nate, he isn’t a free-agent fighter.
He is still locked into his Zuffa contract, which means there won’t be any testing of the free-agent market until he fulfills his current contractual obligations. If one Diaz problem isn’t enough, the UFC is stuck in a similar contractual dispute with Nick Diaz.
Even though he is coming off back-to-back title losses, Nick feels he is either owed an immediate title shot or a significant pay increase. The former Strikeforce champ retired from MMA a little over a year ago after losing a lopsided decision to Georges St-Pierre.
When speaking with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, Nick explained that his return hinged on either a title shot against UFC welterweight champ Johny Hendricks or a $500,000 payday for agreeing to fight a top contender.
According to White, that isn’t the way things work in the UFC:
Whether you’re talking baseball, basketball, football, mixed martial arts, boxing, the world moves on, man. If tonight is my last night and I walk off the stage and I’m done, the UFC isn’t going anywhere. The UFC is gonna keep rolling without me. And the same thing with the Diaz brothers or any other human being.
Nate Diaz just signed a new contract. I don’t think people realize that. He just signed a new deal, and he won one fight out of his last three fights and wants more money and wants a title shot and wants this and this. It’s really not the way it works.
The UFC has already taken measures in preparing for a post-Diaz era. As of now, both brothers have been removed from the official UFC rankings.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.