UFC 202 is going to be quite the spectacle. Once the lights dim and leather meets chin, things are going to build to a frenzy by the time Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor rematch at centre cage.
And it doesn’t matter a lick. It’s all fun and games, a chance for two celebrated pugilists with massive fanbases to chuck knuckles and make a fortune in the process.
If you don’t think so, look no further than the time since UFC 196 for proof: Diaz effectively walked off the street to lay waste to McGregor the first time, then the two jousted in the media for months, going on vacation and/or retiring depending on what you believe. They both received dump trucks full of money for their efforts then and were offered the chance at dump trucks more in the form of a summer rematch.
Dana White didn’t seem to love almost any of the theater connected to making that rematch, mind you, but then he remembered the crooked numbers and zeroes coming behind them generated in the first tilt, and all of a sudden UFC 202 had its headliner.
Now Diaz will look, for the second time in six months, to do what nobody before him had done in six years: stop McGregor.
If he doesn’t? Well, that’s good news, too, because it will instantly make him the richest loser in the history of the UFC.
Diaz already got paid in a major way just for showing up at UFC 196 and beyond the cash purse and bonus he took home for his career-defining performance, the media and publicity opportunities that presented themselves after the fight surely buoyed his bank account even more.
At that point, knowing this was the best chance he had to be richer than he ever thought MMA would make him, he pressed the UFC to tear up the contract he’d negotiated to fight McGregor the first time and top him up anew. The only thing missing was a sack with a dollar sign emblazoned on it.
So with that new deal in hand, sealed by a very public slap on White’s ample, bald melon, Diaz will show up at weigh-ins with his signature, very much not Reebok jeans overflowing with cash. Should he wear those jeans to the scale (and he now has the money to pay the fine associated with such an act), he won’t come close to making the welterweight limit for how much his pay will weigh him down.
The new deal is something of an insurance policy in the event that McGregor gets him in the “get or get got” world Diaz inhabits, but here’s the real kicker: That policy is already paying out in the form of a massive payout for UFC 202, win or lose. But a loss will surely lead to a trilogy, which will surely lead to Diaz making even more money.
It might be a more financially prudent move to lose the fight.
The sheer magnetism of these two coming together—two men who are guaranteed action and highly complementary to one another stylistically, who have massive followings and know how to sell a fight—is basically a license to print money for the UFC. And given the nature of both men, it’s one of the rare times when such money is printed and then makes its way to the fighters involved in considerable increments.
For Nate Diaz, a win would be nice because it would allow him to cement his legacy as one of the top athletes in MMA today while proving to anyone who doubted him that he has the number of the sport’s biggest star.
But a loss?
A loss would make him richer than he could even comprehend, the richest loser to ever set foot in the cage for both UFC 202 and beyond.
In actuality, that might be a win, too.