On June 23, 2007, Nate Diaz won The Ultimate Fighter 5, which came with a six-figure contract. However, the contract was for multiple fights, and could take years to hit $100,000. He was 22 years old.
On April 20, 2013, Diaz fought Josh Thompson, and lost, earning a disclosed purse of just $15,000. There was undoubtedly a locker room bonus, but he wasn’t getting rich. When you lose in the UFC, your contracted pay stays the same. Next fight was a win over Gray Maynard. Diaz’s contract paid him $30,000.
Then the UFC signed his Cesar Gracie teammate Gil Melendez after a bidding war with Bellator. Gil’s contract guaranteed 75% of his fights would be on PPV, with a threshhold lower than any fighter in league history. El Nino’s show money his very first fight was $175,000. Melendez won only one of his five fights since, a decision over Diego Sanchez.
Diaz apparently learned what his teammate was making, and asked to be released from contract. At one point he was even pulled from the UFC rankings.
Diaz finally fought again, vs. Rafael Dos Anjos. His contracted income had now escalated to $20,000 to show and $20,000 to win. Diaz lost, and was fined 20% of his purse for missing weight, so made $16,000. That was his only fight in 2014. He was 29 years old.
The next year Diaz beat Michael Johnson in a Fight of the Night, making him 20+20+50. $90,000 seems like a lot of money, but it was his only fight in 2015, and you have to back out management and trainer percentages, taxes, other training expenses, and more.
He was now 30. His older brother Nick lamented every getting him into fighting.
Then Nate was on a boat in Cabo, doing a tequila shot, when he got a phone call. Do you want to fight Conor McGregor at UFC 196, a week from Saturday?
Nate did, and won, and UFC president Dana White said he made over $2,000,000 for what was then reportedly the biggest PPV in league history. Diaz’s team negotiated hard for the rematch at UFC 202, which too was one of the biggest PPVs ever. Diaz lost a controversial majority decision, but reportedly made much more than $2,000,000.
A false rumor popped up recently that Nate and Khabib Nurmagomedov were fighting for the interim lightweight championship. Diaz told Ariel Helwani for MMA Fighting that no one had called him about it.
And no one should bother calling him with trivialities.
“I’m only fighting at lightweight for a big fight or 20 million just to take the call,” texted Diaz. “Until then, I’m just living my life.”
What about a trilogy fight with McGregor?
“I already beat him,” said Nate. “And they aren’t paying enough to fight him again.”
The rumor about Nate and Nurmagomedov was false, but the UFC is working on something. Originally Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were supposed to fight for the interim title, but there are reportedly issues on Ferguson’s side. The UFC then offered Nurmagomedov a fight with featherweight champion Jose Aldo. But Nurmagomedov still wants to fight Ferguson.
And where does all this leave the great Nate Diaz? A millionaire enjoying life, of course.