Prior to Nate Diaz’ successful comeback against Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 17, there was some debate as to whether the Ultimate Fighter product would ever return to the Octagon.
Negotiations between Diaz and the UFC were tough, and Dana White infamously stated that the Stockton bad boy wasn’t a ‘needle mover’ or a big pay-per-view draw. “Lowest rated FOX show ever. Lowest rated FOX show ever. His numbers, he doesn’t pull the numbers in. Nick (Diaz) is a needle mover. Nick moves the needle. [Nate] doesn’t pull good numbers,” White said at the UFC Dublin media scrum in 2014.
The UFC president was forced to eat his own words, however, after the mega-successful UFC 196 PPV featuring Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor in the main event. It’s estimated that the event secured around 1.5 million buys and rivalled the blockbuster UFC 100 card headlined by Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir in 2009.
Diaz, who submitted McGregor as the considerable underdog at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, responded to White’s comments in an hour-long special on The MMA Hour.
“That’s cold, Dana,” Diaz said, per Shaun Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting.”They (the UFC) had a deal with FOX. They had to reach certain numbers. You know how the deals work with this, they have to hit certain numbers for FOX, like ratings. In this month, you’ve got to hit these certain numbers, or however it works. So they’re putting all the headliners on the FOX shows. They’re like, we’ll get this guy who’s the needle mover, and we won’t have to pay him extra for it.
“They’re like, ‘this is free TV.’ I’m like, wait, wait, wait, let’s not get it twisted. Free for motherf*ckers at home who aren’t paying for pay-per-view. But you guys are getting paid. That’s how it works. So I understood what was going on. They wanted to be like, that’s why you’re not on pay-per-view (because you’re not a needle mover). I already knew what was up. This isn’t newly developed information for me. I was up on the game. Because I cussed a little and told people to f*ck off, this guy is stupid and we don’t want to hear that? Like I’m some educated mother*cker talking about numbers, what do I know?”
The Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt was targeted for a welterweight rematch with ‘The Notorious’ at UFC 202, but Diaz and the UFC brass couldn’t come to terms on the specifics at a recent meeting in Stockton.
“I’m going to maximize my potential,” Diaz said.” Whatever I can get out of this, I’m going to get. Rip and take. I’m not going to sit back and say I’ll fight anybody. Nah, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I don’t have to say that. Now I’m like, f*ck you, pay me, motherf*cker.
“Even my last fight, they’re like, ‘finally you’re getting paid, congratulations.’ No, that’s reimbursement, is what that is. I haven’t even been paid yet, and I’m going to continue to represent for my sh*t and say what’s what and get what’s mine, because no one wants to see no other fight.”
Riding a two-fight win streak and putting an end to McGregor’s welterweight aspirations, Diaz has established himself as a considerable power player in the UFC machine. It’s expected that the fan favorite will rematch McGregor at a future event – but it will be on Diaz’ terms.
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