Following his āretirementā from fighting after losing a decision to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 158 , Nick Diaz has been enjoying his time away from the cage and away from the demands of being a full-time fighter.
However, Diaz has plenty of fight left in him and he is keen to make some money. While he has been enjoying some downtime he has been doing some thinking. He has concluded that what he would like his immediate future to hold is some big money, big reward fights.
The fight with St. Pierre was really the first time that Diaz got to take a bite of the big-money cake that the UFCās top-tier fighters feast on. And if he had won, the coming paydays would have been enormous. He didnāt get the win, but heās been thinking about it ever since.
Right now he is Las Vegas, Nevada with his girlfriend. Her father drives dirt-track racecars and is competing this weekend, in a car complete with Nick Diaz decals and the logo of his own WAR MMA promotion.
Its morning in Las Vegas and Diaz is in a pretty decent mood. He recently moved out of the āfighter houseā he had been living in for the last few years and into a new apartment. He says itās only small - āa little two bedroom, one bathroom thingā - but the change in living environment has been good.
āIām not fighting right now so I didnāt really need to be living in the fighter house with the other guys, I got out of there. It doesnāt really hold up [as a living environment] if youāre not actually training for a fight, its a bit of a mess,ā he says.
Diaz will be paying close attention to next weekās fight between St Pierre and Hendricks at UFC 167. If he was a betting man, he wouldnāt be putting his money on Hendricks.Ā
āI think Georges St. Pierre will win that fight. I watched Hendricks and Condit and I wasnāt that impressed with Hendricks. I think Georges should win with strikes rather than a wrestling match,ā he says.
But it isnāt so much the fight that interests him as its potential aftermath. If St Pierre comes out with the win, where does that leave the welterweight contender picture? Thereās nobody aside from Rory Macdonald who looks like a viable contender right now, and he has sworn he wonāt fight his team mate.
āThey are talking about thereās nobody to fight him after this. Iāll make a joke out of that real quick - I think thereās nobody on my level really. I donāt want to name names but thatās how I feel. So I feel like if the fans want to see me fightā¦ā says Diaz, trailing off without mentioning a title fight directly.
Of late there have been numerous rumors that Diaz is interested in a fight with Michael Bisping at middleweight. He flatly refutes that; he doesnāt see it as a big fight - and by ābig fightā he means ābig earnerā.
āI donāt see that being a really big fight like this one fight Iām thinking I could have at welterweight,ā he says, again hovering around the topic of a rematch with St. Pierre without actually calling the champion out.
āAnd [Bispingās] been getting knocked out a bunch lately so Iām like, lets wait until I start getting knocked out too. I canāt afford to be getting knocked out [at middleweight] right now. Lets wait until my late 30s or something! [laughs].ā
So Diaz is ready to come out of retirement for the right fight. Whether he can get that fight right off is debatable. Diaz doesnāt answer my question about how he would respond if the UFC said āWin one fight, we will give you a shotā.
Instead he lays out his own requirements for a return and they can be summarized thus: Nick Diaz wants to get paid.
āWell we could negotiate. I am a pretty big draw. So we would have to negotiate a pretty decent amount of pay and a pretty decent amount from the pay-per-view. Iām talking like three to five dollars [per PPV unit sold] the same as these other important fighters are getting, because I am out there putting on a show,ā he says.
āSome of those guys are making way more money than what my contract is worth. Iām not making a fraction of it. And I donāt want you to think I am just regurgitating some [rumors] here. I understand what I understand, I hear what I hear.
āIāve had some time off from fighting and some free time to finally start looking at things like this and thinking about it. Its a bit easier for me to learn whatās what now.ā
The UFC will also be pleased to learn that Diazās attitude to the PR circus has done a complete 180. Of all the fighters in MMA, Diaz was by far the most notorious for hating the media grind.
It culminated in his failing to attend a UFC 137 PR engagement and being removed from his first title shot against St Pierre.Ā These days, Diaz is all-business and he is ready to play the game.
āWell I am talking about big fights, so I could be really enthusiastic about all that [PR stuff] nowadays. Before I didnāt want to talk or do anything extra, because I wasnāt getting paid for it,ā he says.
āI didnāt want to do all these conferences and all this running around on PR and not getting paid for it and its interfering with my training, you know? But if you look at the last two fights I think I started to show more enthusiasm for it. The last one I think I explained myself pretty good.ā
Anybody who has followed Diaz for any length of time will have noticed that words like āmoneyā and ācompensationā have formed an ever-increasing part of his conversation.
The truth is Diaz has always thought about money. But its only lately, as he sees his careerās finish line hover into view, that he has started to really worry about it and think about maximizing his earnings in the time he has left.
āI canāt make any other money other than fighting. Never have,ā he says. āI had a job once, I was like 15 or 16. Running wires through a building for a construction company, they paid me in cash āunder the tableā.
āI bought myself a four-wheeler. Then I sold it back to the guy I bought it from and I started fighting professionally at 18. Ever since then thatās the only way I have made money.ā
What about the WAR MMA venture he launched in his native Stockton, California? That first show seemed to go well, though in truth Diaz is something of a figurehead and partner rather than being involved in the promoter and operations sides.
āIām trying to work something out with the team of guys who do it. But to be honest I havenāt been really too motivated lately in terms of things to make money. Iāve been training a lot, training with my brother [Nate] for his fight coming up, and moving house,ā he says.
āAnd before that, just a few months of indecisiveness really. Iāve been traveling around a little bit. The free time has been good, its different. Now if thereās a big fight availableā¦ people know where I am.ā
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