We're finally starting to see more and more fighters understand the business side of the game, and Nate Diaz is no exception.
It took a victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 196 - which shook up the world, for Diaz to recognises his worth within the UFC. His victory over the reigning featherweight champion saw Diaz instantly become a household name.
Speaking to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sport ahead of his rematch at UFC 202 with Conor McGregor, Diaz showed a different side to him; a more thoughtful, business-minded side.
They better hope I don’t win this fight.” Because it’s going to be a lot of trouble for everybody, in terms of the business. This one coming up, they better hope I don’t win this one because the game is going to change.
Diaz has always been a fan favourite, perhaps like McGregor - his trash-talking and mentality is about as real as it gets. He has become the UFC's go-to guy when it comes to headlining the Fox Sport cards, which are free-to-air in the States. And because they are free for everyone to see, the UFC want to best showcase their talent to make people want to purchase a pay-per-view
But it seems only now, he's not going to let the UFC dictate what he does - but rather is happy to let the money do the talking. We saw a glimpse of this in the aftermath of his cancelled fight rematch with McGregor, which was scheduled or UFC 200. Diaz refused to budge when it came to his fight pay, which almost saw the plug pulled on the entire thing.
In the end the UFC caved, and gave into his demands. Realising how significant his win over the biggest star in the UFC was on just 12 days notice - coupled with the big number Diaz fights tend to do, he was given what we wanted.
"People will say, ‘I'll fight anybody, I love to fight.' You love to fight? [Expletive] that. People say that. And, yeah, I said that. And I woke up. It takes a lot of fighting to wake up. ‘I'll fight anybody for free? I'll fight anybody?' That's what [the UFC] wants. That's what pads their bottom line. Then I realized, ‘[Expletive] you [expletive], you're playing me.'
"I'd look at my following [on social media] and other peoples' followings and I'd look at the numbers for the Fox shows they were putting me on and I was like, ‘Damn, a lot of people are tuning into these shows.' I was headlining a lot of them back-to-back. I was like, ‘I am bringing in bigger numbers than anybody and I'm not getting the deals. ‘Fox card,' they always said. ‘Free TV, free TV.' I was like, ‘No, it's not free, they have million-dollar deals to put this many shows on Fox and I'm headlining three shows a year? ... Then they are trying to shut me down, shut me up, [saying], ‘He doesn't move the needle.' They are just trying to put that out in the mainstream because then people start saying that and it's true."
The date can be traced back to December 19, 2015, that's when it all started to change for the 31-year-old. Diaz had just beaten Michael Johnson at a UFC Fox Event, a week after McGregor had knocked out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds. Diaz took and called out McGregor in an expletive rant, claiming he'd taken everything that he had worked for. He called on other fighters to follow suit.
You have to say something. I’ve already had too many years of not saying [expletive], and then I got people coming in left and right out of other organizations getting paid out. Are you kidding me? There were probably times I could have done that before but I wasn’t up to par on the knowledge.
“Everybody should say this [expletive], and then [the UFC would] be overwhelmed, he added.
Nate Diaz will return to the octagon on August 20 at UFC 202, where a rematch with the undisputed featherweight champion awaits him. The fight will take place at 170 pounds, with McGregor obsessed with righting the wrong - and avenging his defeat to the man who marred his then unblemished record in the UFC.