Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz have been jawing at each other for months now about a potential big money fight early in 2022. But, as of this moment, that fight looks more like fizzle than ever. What’s going on?
Well, according to The MMA Hour host, Ariel Helwani, the issue is once again Diaz’s contract running out of fights, and UFC’s efforts in stopping him from become a free agent ... at least until he’s fought Conor McGregor for the third time.
In a new episode of The Ringer MMA Show on Spotify, Helwani lays out the behind the scenes tea on Poirier vs. Diaz.
“Nate obviously wants the fight, Nathan wants to fight. Dustin wants the fight. UFC actually wants the fight,” Helwani said. “But, they want it with a caveat: they want to extend [Diaz’s] contract. And that’s going to be the push and pull in this whole scenario, right?
“It’s, ‘All right, you want this fight? Sign for more fights,’ right? ‘All right, you want this fight? Well we need you for one more,’” he continued. “And the option that was thrown out was ‘All right, you want this fight, you have to add one more,’ and that would be the Conor fight, which is not a bad deal. But then they have to make sure that the numbers line up.”
So the relatively simple act of negotiating a Diaz vs. Poirier fight suddenly also involves coming to terms with Diaz on a price for a third McGregor fight. All during a time where UFC is trying to make it very clear to everyone on the roster — needle mover or not — that they shouldn’t expect Deontay Wilder money even if they’re selling a Floyd Mayweather amount of pay-per-view (PPV) units.
UFC 196: “McGregor vs. Diaz” and UFC 202: “McGregor vs. Diaz 2” generated 1.3 million and 1.6 million PPV buys, respectively, and while UFC 244 numbers were never released, you know that event sold a ton of units as well. Considering how much money Diaz has made for UFC, it’s always surprising how unwilling the promotion seems to be to pay the guy properly.
We imagine Diaz would be willing to stick around for a third McGregor fight ... for the right price. The lack of a deal to make that happen tells you where things sit. Especially with Jake Paul sitting outside UFC willing to splash Diaz with cash.
“What’s going on now is a fascinating thing,” Helwani added. “[Jake Paul] is this thing at the end, and Masvidal and Diaz and all these guys are looking at him and being like, ‘We can make a ton of money if we just go over to this world. We just have to get out of this [UFC] contract.’”
So as usual, it’s money and politics standing in the way of good fights, which is a story we’re seeing a whole lot more of these days in UFC.