Shoutout to Canadian Big Dog Aaron Bronsteter of TSN for using part of his regular Skype sesh with Dana White this week to try to dig up some clues about The Mysterious Case of Nathan Donald Diaz and His UFC Contract.
With just one fight reportedly left on his current deal, Diaz has been hinting at a couple un-Diaz-ish potential options against Vicente Luque and/or Tony Ferguson. Considering Nate’s last fight was also a bit of a surprising match-up (against the long-suffering Leon Edwards), it has fueled speculation that Diaz is intent on fighting out his contract so he can test free agency.
Couldn’t blame him if that was the case, right? The current lay of the combat sports land could be pretty sweet for a suddenly unencumbered Diaz. Former Known Associate Scott Coker would no doubt invite him for lunch at a San Jose-area gastropub the moment he hit the streets. The PFL is handing out those giant million-dollar checks to anybody who can get past a couple guys with “Magomed” in their names. The bareknuckle thing somehow is still going. One Championship keeps doing … whatever it is they do.
Oh yeah, and then there’s that other set of fighting brothers out there offering allegedly big paydays to aging MMA fighters to strap on the big, goofy gloves for one-off punching-only fights. Don’t even sit there and try to pretend like you wouldn’t get-up for Nate Diaz vs. A Paul Brother in a boxing fight because that would make you a goddamn liar. Nate Diaz vs. A Paul Brother in a boxing fight would set the pay-per-view world on fire and everybody knows it.
So yeah, if right now Diaz was thinking it might make good career sense to get paid more money to blow his weed smoke during somebody else’s prefight press conference, we could all understand.
According to White, however, when Bronsteter asked him about Diaz’s future, the primary reason somebody might want to test free agency would be … you guessed it … if they were afraid they weren’t good enough anymore to keep fighting in the UFC.
“Listen, for a lot of these guys, there’s no secret about it. If you believe that you are one of the best in the world and you believe you can win a world title here, or hang with the top five, then this is where you should be,” White said. “The minute that you start doubting that is the case, you’ve got to start looking at other options.”
LOL. OK, couple things.
First, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that White makes these statements—without a hint of irony—while sitting in front of a wall that literally says ART OF WAR on it in huge letters.
I tell ya what, sometimes this sport … it’s a little bit too on-the-nose, you know what I mean?
Second, this is obviously a hilarious thing to say. The first and maybe ONLY rule of how to conduct your prizefighting career should be: Always get paid the most money you possibly can.
Negotiating your first fight? Get paid the most money you possibly can.
A decade deep in the game and regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Get paid the most money you possibly can!
Maybe you’re, say, 36 years old and 1-3 in your last four but still a marketable and popular commodity in the industry? GET PAID THE MOST MONEY YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
That’s it. That’s the entire calculus.
For White to say anything else is just him flipping to page two of The Dana White MMA Promoter Playbook, scanning down through the sections labeled “Kid just doesn’t want to fight!” and “She looks like Wanderlei Silva in a Dress!” and reading whatever is written there.
It’s also some shallow dime-store psychological BS. It’s a bit like what the high school football coach might say if you went into his office to tell him you were leaving the team because you think you might be able to get a scholarship to Julliard to play the cello and you want to focus your energy there. You’re really good at the cello, after all.
“Well,” Coach White might say, leaning back on his creaky-ass office chair, adjusting his white visor and staring steadily at you, his second-team all-state free safety, “if you don’t think you’ve got the GUTS for football anymore, son, I understand.”
And hey, let’s be honest. Dana White has spent the last twenty years or so being really, really good at saying exactly this kind of stuff. He’s been so good at it, he’s essentially convinced an entire generation of fight fans that they love MMA fighting but don’t suuuuper love MMA fighters.
A beat later, White goes on:
“There’s tons of other places where you can go fight and where you can make a lot of money,” he said. “A lot of these guys once they’ve built and established their name here, move on to these other promotions and make crazy money—and good for them. That’s just how it works. As far as Nate Diaz goes, I don’t know where Nate feels he is right now and what he feels his future could be if he signs another four or five-fight deal here.”
OK, now that’s a lot more reasonable, but—as Ben Fowlkes has already pointed out—it’s a little weird that the UFC seems to have established itself as the No. 1 fight promotion in the world that will absolutely NOT pay you No. 1 fight promotion money.
And besides, if you’re Nate Diaz, do you really want to take career advice from your boss, while he sits inside his sprawling corporate headquarters in front of his custom-built ART OF WAR wall?
Seems like a guy like that might not COMPLETELY have your best interests at heart.
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