Back in 2014, longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Nate Diaz told the combat sports media his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract was "all fucked up" and that UFC President Dana White "conned" him into an eight-fight deal.
White, however, said the real money goes to stars like Justin Bieber (seriously).
At the time, Diaz was struggling to find his place among the 155-pound elite, despite a sizable fan following, and was unable to negotiate from a position of strength. A trend that was expected to continue when the promotion undoubtedly thought it was feeding him to Conor McGregor at UFC 196, thanks to a late injury to Rafael dos Anjos.
Then Diaz flipped the script -- and turned the UFC accounting office upside down -- with a sensational second round win.
But in order for the promotion to cash in with a big-money rematch, which is expected to do gangbusters at the pay-per-view (PPV) box office, Diaz told Yahoo! Sports that his superiors had to not only come correct with an offer to fight again, but also make good on all those fights that left him with chump change.
"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. It already has. 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'm out there running and I'm just thinking, if you put Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta in my position and said, ‘Make this weight next week and do everything I'm doing, and pay them their whole company's worth, $4.2 billion, they couldn't do it.' They couldn't. It doesn't matter how much money there is. I said, ‘[Expletive] is going change, I'm fighting at 165 now. You call me and say there's a fight in 12 days and you want me to lose 30 [expletive] pounds? No. I'll lose 20 pounds and we could fight. Yesterday I would have fought at 155 but your company [expletive] up, since you are best friends, the company and Conor McGregor, you want me to lose all those pounds for you guys. No, I'll lose 20. I was like, ‘Ha, ha, you [expletives], call me for the next one, you better come with something good. I don't give a [expletive]. 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."
Diaz was paid just $15,000 to show for his Dec. 2013 win over Gray Maynard.
Fast forward to UFC 196 a couple of years later and he was up to $500,000, a small price to pay to rescue a McGregor PPV event. But that number is likely to be doubled when they run it back at the UFC 202 extravaganza next month in Las Vegas, Nevada, as Diaz now holds all the cards.
The proof wasn't in the pudding because somebody stormed out before dessert.
The good news is, Diaz is one of many fighters in recent months to speak openly about the UFC pay scale, which has come under increased scrutiny in the wake of rumors teasing a $4 billion sale. Of course, it also helps to be winning the fights that count, which is why some people stay.