With reports out that the UFC is seeking to make a welterweight title fight between Nate Diaz and Tyron Woodley, it sounds like Diaz is looking to get a major payday out of the deal.
After the spectacular upset win over Conor McGregor at UFC 196, Nate Diaz became a media darling. The Stockton based figher did multiple appearances on talk shows, ended up with a few fun memes, all to build up to the hotly-anticipated rematch with McGregor at UFC 202. He lost a close decision in that bout, and he hasn’t fought since.
Outside of his bouts with McGregor, Nate’s drawing power has been a point of contention. Much like his brother, he’s undeniably a polarizing figure. Most recently, he’s been called out by welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. However, it still remains unclear whether or not the former lightweight title challenger is actually going to return to the cage.
Diaz has made it abundantly clear that he only wants to come back for major paydays, and has thus far refused to come back unless UFC management plays ball. In a recent interview with Submission Radio, his boxing coach Richard Perez pushed things even further, when asked what Diaz should make should he return to the UFC against Woodley.
“15 million (dollars) easy,” Perez said, when asked what Diaz should make for a bout with Woodley. “Easy. Cause, I mean, he’s a star right now. I mean, McGregor can’t even fight right now, he got suspended. And Woodley’s trying to fight everybody. He says McGregor doesn’t want to fight him, he says BJ Penn (sic) doesn’t want to fight him. He’s naming all these people that don’t want to fight him, you know, cause he’s trying to get his name, he’s trying to get up there, and nobody wants to (fight him). I mean, he’s got the belt. So what? The belt don’t mean nothing anymore. It’s about who you’re fighting (if you want) to make the money.”
“And it’s worth it because Woodley wants to get his name out there, he wants to fight the best so he can be noticed. Right now, he’s not really getting a lot of publicity like Nathan does with the people, you know, the crowd. Whether they like you or they hate you, they want to see Nathan. So that’s what he’s going for.”
Perez is likely correct, that Woodley wants to maximize his value as a box-office draw against a big-name opponent, as that’s a matter that Woodley has addressed in the past. He’s also probably spot on regarding the notion that Nate Diaz has a broader appeal and a far higher profile than he had prior to the McGregor fights. That said, Perez made it clear that what he’d actually prefer is a third fight with lightweight champ Conor McGregor:
“Well, everybody wants to see McGregor and Nathan,” Perez said. “Woodley is out of the picture. I mean, he’s just blubbering now and talking cause he wants to get noticed, he wants to be up there in top too. I don’t blame him, that’s normal for a fighter cause he has the belt. He thinks the belt’s important, it’s not right now, it’s about who you’re fighting. That’s why he’s trying to get Nathan, he’s trying to get McGregor. But what everybody wants to really see is McGregor and Nathan.
“That’s all I ever hear. People texting me all the time, they call me all the time, it’s still constantly, ‘when are they fighting? That’s all we want to see.’ That’s the fight, that’s the best fight to watch right now. You know, cause the last two fights were great, so the third one has to finish. We have to find out the outcome of that one. So that’s where it should be at now.”
A trilogy fight with McGregor seems to be the most popular and compelling of all possible matchups for a Diaz return. That’s a fight that has done big business twice over and still has unfinished business, with a the two standing at 1-1. Still, that’s a generous amount of money Perez is campaigning for, and the UFC may not be willing to open the purse strings that wide for Diaz (or anyone else not named Conor McGregor, for that matter). And with McGregor reportedly not looking to fight again until spring, it may be that none of these options are viable for another few months.
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