Nick and Nate Diaz are easily two of the best fighters in the world, but they are also two of the biggest divas in all of MMA. Currently, both men are feuding with the UFC over contract terms, money and opponents.

No one is saying that they don’t have a right to complain about their current contract situation. Athletes upset over their contracts is the nature of professional sports. I will never fault an athlete for asking for a better deal, because they assume all the risk with little reward.

In many ways, UFC contracts are a lot like NFL contracts in that there are no guarantees for tomorrow. One bad performance in the Octagon and a fighter runs the risk of being cut. For this reason, fighters need to get all they can while they can.

The flip side of that, though, is that these fighters must understanding how leverage works. They need to know when to make a contract play, and when to bite the bullet and accept the deal they have already signed. It’s important to remember here that both Diaz brothers have active contracts with the UFC, so they are looking to either be released or re-work those deals. But they lack the solid ground on which to negotiate.

Since re-signing with the UFC in 2011, Nick is just 1-2. It’s been over a year since his loss to then-champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158, after which Diaz stated that he was retiring from the sport. He simply has no real leverage at this point. Diaz is an exciting fighter with good name appeal to fans, but he is a terrible investment. He is extremely unreliable when it comes to press events and fight promotions, and there is always the risk that he will fail a drug test for marijuana.

Look at the reported salaries for Nick’s UFC 158 against St-Pierre. St-Pierre was paid $200,000 to show and another $200,000 for a win bonus (granted, those figures don’t include GSP’s pay-per-view cut or his endorsements, just his base salary for the fight). Nick was paid $200,000 to show and, had he won, he would have received another $200,000.

That’s right, Nick’s base salary was the same as that of UFC welterweight kingpin GSP. GSP was—and still is—one of the most universally recognized and marketable fighters to ever compete in MMA, and Nick Diaz had the same base deal. What’s the problem here? Is Diaz a more valuable commodity than GSP?

Again, there’s no problem with Nick challenging the status quo and making a play for better paydays. However, when you look at the position he is negotiating from, you have to know it is not going to end the way he wants it to. Had Nick beat Carlos Condit for the interim belt at UFC 143 and then went on to defeat GSP at UFC 158, we would be having a different conversation because he would be holding all of the cards. But he doesn’t have those big wins that give fighters leverage at the bargaining table.

Nick’s younger brother, Nate, is in a little bit of a different situation. In his last outing, Nate was paid $15,000 to show and a $15,000 win bonus for his first-round TKO win over Gray Maynard in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale. That’s not bad money, but when you consider Maynard made $45,000 just in show money, you have to stop and scratch your head.

Nate was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 5. He has fought in the Octagon 19 times, taking home 11 fight-night award bonuses in the process. That’s a heck of a resume for a fighter who, if he fought an optimal three times per year and won all of those bouts, would only make $90,000 in base salary.

Unlike his brother, Nate has a reason to be upset about his pay, and he has much more leverage than his brother does in this situation. Nate regularly puts on great fights, as evidenced by all of those bonuses, and he is coming off an impressive victory over a former title contender in his last bout.

Although Nate is just following his brother’s lead in this situation, he has every right to be demanding a new deal. His brother has more name value and more drawing power, but Nate instantly makes every card he’s on better. Compared to other fighters in the division, Nate is grossly underpaid. That said, he did sign a contract.

When you look at the Diaz brothers, you see two guys who are immensely skilled fighters. But keep looking and you’ll also see two guys who are suffering from a lack of business leadership in their professional lives. Their management is epicly failing them. In Nick’s case, they need to explain to make him realize his true value in the sport. In Nate’s case, they undersold him in his last contract negotiation. Both guys are getting shafted in different ways, and it’s sad because both are still in their prime.

Honestly, it’s hard to tell where the Diaz brothers go from here. They are great fighters, but they are making outrageous demands and their management isn’t positioned to make things happen. The UFC holds all the cards at this juncture, and it is put up or shut time for the brothers. Although it is admirable on some level that they are making this stand, it is sad that they really don’t understand that they are wasting their best years.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Messiah666

    I give Nick Diaz credit for taking on the UFC. Honestly, if there was ever a case for the need of a union in professional sports, it has to be with the UFC that severely underpays its fighters. Honestly their greed is disgusting. Talk about lack of professionalism?? Dana White, as president of the UFC, is the who is consistently unprofessional who constantly berates his fighters who do not walk the line.

  • Messiah666

    People love Nick Diaz because he is genuine. Yes you can say many bad things about him, but he keeps it real.

  • JRad

    We often forget that Nick and Nate have more fights under there belt than 99% of those in the UFC. Hes fought the best in the world. His losses are awsome losses to the best in the business. Condit had nothing for him but ring around the rosie…gsp had nothing for him but a jack russel leg hump…no knockouts no submissions? And these are arguguably the best guys in the world. Nicks been there done that and is easily worth a cool million per fight on fan base alone. Dana is a great business man…but it seems to me he is the one who needs to open his eyes and see that nick is a freakin cash cow. And if anyone deserves more money its the diaz brothers. Cmon Dana pay these guys what there worth and press on…so I can pay you to watch them fight.

    • Richard

      How do you figure he is a cash cow? Look at his pay-per-view buys when he wasn’t placed across the cage from GSP. 280,000 buys for Penn (that wasn’t even in the top 10 in PPV for the UFC for the entire year) and 400,000 for Condit (8th most buys for that year)…that means Nick is in the bottom half of draws for those events both years. Put into further perspective Jon Fitch was considered a horrible PPV draw. Against Penn, he drew 260,000 buys – just 20,000 less than Diaz.

      Diaz being money is a myth. He has a loyal and vocal fanbase but generates little money outside of them.

      • JRad

        Ok at first glance your argument seems to have a point…ill respond with this…280,000 ×$60 a pop plus in house seats at the door not to mention the sponsors…you do the math. The UFC is underpaying thier show horses plain and simple. If nick made 200K and the UFC made 20 mil. How do they justify those type of wage gaps. The fighters “ARE” the UFC… So Please enlighten me.

      • Jarome

        C’mon bro 20,000 x 60 is 1.2 million, Nick is asking less than half of that. Seem reasonable

  • Jarome

    This writer is a clown. When do you want him to negotiate his contract? when he’s irrelevant? Think that one through. NIck is one of the most popular fighters in MMA right now and he knows it (With Silva and GSP out). You hold out when you have the leverage, not when your begging for attention. Basic Econ dude, Supply and Demand.