Out of action since he destroyed longtime rival Gray Maynard in the main event of last November’s The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale, embattled UFC lightweight Nate Diaz has been the subject of an ongoing media focus concerning fighter pay.
Diaz and his manager Mike Kogan believe that the popular, polarizing fighter deserves much more than he is paid, while Dana White and the UFC have said that he simply isn’t a “needle mover” like his brother Nick is.
It’s lead to an impasse where Diaz has supposedly been avoiding calls and turning down fights, prompting the UFC to remove him from their official rankings due to inactivity. However, Kogan recently appeared on Submission Radio to state that simply isn’t the case, as Diaz has supposedly offered to fight several top-ranked opponents to no response from the promotion:
“I reached out to the UFC before the Donald Cerrone/(Jim) Miller fight even happened and said, ‘Hey, how about we fight the winner? Nate beat both of them, they’ve both since fought 4 times and won, you know’, and they said, ‘Oh you know, let’s see how the guys are after the fight, maybe they’re banged up, maybe there not’. Next thing you know, they announce the fight with Khabib.
Then Khabib blows his knee like 15 minutes later and now they’re saying he’s gonna be fighting Eddie Alvarez who’s not even signed with the UFC yet. And we asked for that fight when Michael Johnson got injured. We hit up the UFC and said ‘hey we’ll fight Thompson’. That was like 10-day notice, you know. We said maybe ask them if they’ll do like a little higher weight, like a catch-weight, you know like 160 or something, so it’s short notice. And they said ‘no, we have it figured out. Don’t worry about it’.
So it sounds like, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between both sides’ stories. Regardless, Diaz remains on the sidelines, and Kogan said that nothing is being discussed to get him back in the Octagon anytime soon:
“No, right now nobody’s talking to anybody. I mean, Dana made it very clear that Nate should be happy with what he has and he doesn’t see any reason to even discuss it, he’s not really as popular as I guess we believe he is, and that was that, we just kind of stopped there. So right now no, nobody’s talking to anybody.”
It doesn’t sound like all that promising of a diagnosis from Kogan, and with him having burned a bridge with White, it may not ever get better. However, Kogan doesn’t think that his standing up to White will hurt negotiations. Even if it does, he said he’s not going to back down:
“I doubt it, I mean I don’t know, I don’t hold grudges, it’s whatever. Dana probably holds grudges, he probably doesn’t really like me very much but what can I do? Nothing I can do about it. This thing, it wasn’t supposed to be played out in the media. I mean, we tried to have a private conversation a long time ago, and instead of having it, UFC started trashing Nate to media, saying he’s turning down fights, and he’s afraid, and this, that, and whatever, to which we responded.
Go track down a single incident in which either Nate or I have said anything that was other than reactionary. Anything that was proactively said. Nothing. Not once. There’s never been an interview or an article where, you know we’re initiating a discussion with the UFC or over media as accreditation. Never, always been reactionary. Our first reaction was when he got accused of being scared of fighting Khabib (Nurmagomedov), and that’s not true. From there on, every time either one of us says anything it’s always as a reaction to something that’s already been said. It’s never been proactive.
Now it’s like Jerry Springer. If you’re gonna be out there trashing my guy, then I’m gonna say something. I’m not just gonna be sitting back like, ‘Oh yeah you know, we’re so blessed to be breathing this air’.”
Diaz and Kogan clearly aren’t willing to back down in their dealings with the UFC, but with his prime fighting years suddenly being wasted on a contract dispute while he is still under contract, is that really the best course of action?
After all, in a division crowded full of top-level contenders all hungry to get a shot at returning champion Anthony Pettis’ belt, will Diaz ever actually be a legitimate title contender again?
Probably not, and maybe that’s why he’s holding out for a bigger payday to fight less. It’s clear that the UFC doesn’t truly need him. Does he need them?
Photo: Joe Camporeale for USA TODAY Sports