After a year off due to displeasure with his contract situation, polarizing and popular UFC lightweight Nate Diaz returns to the octagon when he meets top-ranked Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event of Saturday night’s (December 13, 2014) UFC on FOX 13 from Phoenix, Arizona.
The Stockton native didn’t appear too focused on the card’s obligations when he missed the open workouts yesterday, a minor lapse he attributed to sleeping in. Diaz appeared in an interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani to discuss that and several other topics, including the UFC’s recent signing of former WWE champion CM Punk:
“That’s another silly situation that I don’t think that anybody should be a part of. Everybody wants to be like, ‘Yeah, they’re putting amateurs with the pros now. They’re putting amateurs with the pros, and it’s a big deal. I was just telling them that we don’t get a nice suit and a slicked-back hair and a mic at each UFC event.”
Diaz obviously doesn’t like the signing because he believes it gives Punk preferential treatment, something that he’s sort of fought against with his long-fought battle over fighter pay with Dana White.
Punk only got signed to the UFC because he’ll bring a ton of mainstream attention and probably millions of dollars to both sides. It may be right, it may be wrong, but Diaz knows the UFC is a business at the end of the day. What he isn’t willing to accept are the pro fighters who are looking to fight Punk:
“I don’t even know who he is. As soon as I heard that, I looked him up, I was like, ‘What the?’ Okay, I don’t know who he is, everyone knows who he is, so obviously this guy’s going to get paid millions of dollars to fight whoever he wants to make the UFC money.
Great for the company; everybody’s getting paid from it. All the little fighters are putting their little image or opinion, ‘I’ll be happy to welcome him to the octagon.’ It’s like, ‘Get out of here, you’re antagonizing this. You can’t even fight me, you’re an amateur. Fight for ten years and you can fight me.”
Diaz was asked about Punk reportedly coming to join his coach Cesar Gracie’s team after training Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Rener Gracie for some time. Diaz said Punk can come over to the team and wished him luck, but he still strongly disapproves of the scenario:
“I didn’t even know that, I didn’t even know why he did that. He can come join I don’t care, that’s cool, All luck to him, good luck to CM Punk, but that situation? Fuck that situation. You’re gonna pay that guy out more than anybody’s he’s fighting on the first day because he’s a draw, you know, I understand that. I understand the draw and the money, and it’s good for the company.”
On the other side of the street sit the fighters, according to Diaz. He believes that any opponent who accepts a small payday to face Punk is getting taken advantage of:
“But you know what’s it’s not good for? The athletes. We’re supposed to be pros. Why are we being treated like semi-pros? Bring an amateur in and pay him more than us. I’ll fight him, by all means, if you’re going to fight him and get paid more than him, fight him.”
They’re going to give a $20,000 paycheck to whoever who fights him and the guy getting paid 20 g’s is going act like it’s an opportunity. That ain’t no opportunity, that’s getting hustled, you know what I’m sayin’?”
Yet even though he thinks real fighters could be paid much less than they’re worth, Diaz said he can’t blame White and Punk. If the WWE called him with a big offer, he said that he’d immediately accept:
“Man, if the WWE called and offered me millions of dollars to come and fake wrestle on my first, day, you know what I’m sayin’, I gotta go. Not that I wouldn’t still fight, but for the moment I’m getting my money paycheck on at the fake wrestling federation.”
Always dependable for some great quotes, Diaz continues to put his true feelings out into the media like few do. He’s ran his mouth straight into another big fight on Saturday, but judging based on dos Anjos’ recent performances, it could be another big loss.
If it’s a Diaz win, however, expect the quick-witted boxer from Stockton to be calling out for a title shot.