On some level, you have to respect the fact that UFC lightweight Nate Diaz is willing to hold out on Dana White for a bigger paycheck. Even though he has little leverage to do so, Diaz is apparently a guy who sticks to his guns.
But sadly, he’s going about it all wrong.
While the younger Diaz brother is sitting at home, he’s also griping on Twitter about the fact that Donald Cerrone — the man he defeated over two years ago in a thrilling clash at UFC 141 — is making plenty of money. But the thing is, Cerrone knows how to work within the UFC system to make a decent living. In fact, “Cowboy” is being paid better than ever before, all because he knows how to play the MMA game.
Since that loss to Diaz at UFC 141, Cerrone has gone on a pretty decent 6-2 run, staying busy and continually raising his profile with MMA fans. Just look at his winnings over those last eight fights in disclosed paychecks alone:
• UFC on Fuel 3: $30,000/$30,000 (Show/Win Salary)
• UFC 150: $60,000 (KO of the Night)
• UFC 150: $60,000 (Fight of the Night)
• UFC 160: $41,000/$41,000 (Show/Win Salary)
• UFC 167: $48,000/$48,000 (Show/Win Salary)
• UFC 150: $50,000 (Submission of the Night)
• UFC on Fox 10: $50,000 (KO of the Night)
• UFC on Fox 11: $57,000/$57,000 (Show/Win Salary)
• UFC on Fox 11: $50,000 (Performance of the Night)
To date, Cerrone has made over $662,000 since losing to Diaz, and that’s nowhere close to the actual total he’s collected from Zuffa due to the UFC’s ability to privatize fighter pay in certain regions. Diaz, on the other hand, has made only $210,000 in disclosed paychecks so far.
That alone should hint to the Stockton native exactly how much money he misses by playing hardball with the UFC, especially when he doesn’t have the ability to shop himself around for a better contract. No matter how much Diaz thinks he’s worth, attempting to sit out technically puts him in a situation where his contract prevents him from free agency. That just isn’t the wisest thing to do.
When former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez finished his Zuffa contract, he was able to get a very lucrative offer from Bellator, causing the UFC to match it. Cerrone’s done things his own way, taking fights at the drop of a hat, winning in dramatic style and effectively doubling his salary while picking up several valuable post-fight bonuses.
If Diaz wants that kind of money, he needs to wise up and start doing the things that’ll allow him to maximize his value. He has to take fights on big cards, get on a winning streak and run out his contract. Then, he can entertain offers from other MMA promotions and set his own value.
As popular as Nate Diaz might be with hardcore MMA fans, the UFC doesn’t need to deal with him right now. And more importantly, the UFC isn’t in a place where it’ll bend its whims to a single lightweight fighter’s demands — not when the 155-pound division is so heavily stacked with such remarkable talent.