Conor McGregor likes to take credit for elevating Nate Diaz into the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s upper class, but the Stockton, Calif., native is adamant that his big payday would have arrived eventually.
Diaz earned a disclosed $500,000 for his upset victory over McGregor at UFC 196 in March and likely stands to pad his bank account even more in their rematch at UFC 202. Prior to facing McGregor, Diaz took home $40,000 -- including a $20,000 win bonus -- for a win against Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox 17 in December.
The Cesar Gracie protege does acknowledge that taking a short-notice fight against McGregor accelerated the process of raising his profile within the company.
“This guy [McGregor] talks about all these fighters like they’re f---ing dumb and he’s right, they’re all f---ing dumb. I’m not one of those guys just sat around here taking contracts,” Diaz said during a recent media call.” I’ve been bitching about my contract for the last six years. I’ve been going through hell and so I knew I was going to get mine when it was time to get mine, I was going to get what I was going to get regardless, and I had a plan to do it.
“It is not thanks to Conor that I got all of it, but I’m going to say that it was a short cut,” he added. “If I was stupid I wouldn’t have got to where I’m at. I did what I had to do, I got that fight with Johnson, I plotted him out and I got my shit done and then they plotted back and got me on the 10-day notice and it worked out still regardless.”
The rematch was initially booked for UFC 200 but fell through when McGregor declined to participate in all the promotional duties ahead of the bout. Diaz also had his issues with promotion brass, as UFC President Dana White reportedly stormed out of a meeting with the fighter in a Stockton, Calif., restaurant.
Ultimately cooler heads prevailed, and Diaz came to terms with the UFC, delivering a Stockton Slap to White to close the deal.
“Just know that they wanted it to happen,” Diaz said. “They needed it to happen. So I didn’t have no thoughts that it wasn’t going to happen. It is part of what I wanted and it worked out.
“...I was going to get that money regardless.”
Since he was on the call with Diaz, McGregor couldn’t help but offer his two cents on how his rival’s earnings potential has significantly increased.
“Just have a bit of respect. I taught you well,” McGregor said. “You were on 20 and 20. Now you’re talking the big money, have respect for that.”
With that status comes more obligations, and Diaz has been doing more media than ever before leading up to UFC 202, including high-profile appearances on “Conan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Such appearances weren’t necessarily high on Diaz’s wish list, but he wasn’t going to turn down the opportunities, either.
“It’s not like I was losing sleep over trying to get into it, but when they call an opportunity you might as well take it, because it’s going to build your brand all that stuff, marketing gets bigger, so you have to,” Diaz said. “ I didn’t really want to do none of it, but I didn’t want to look back and say ‘F--k, I should have done that.’ So I’m just doing what I got to do to get by and get my things cracking and get my things going.”