Nick Diaz is a guest on HDNet's 'Inside MMA' this week as is his coach Cesar Gracie. According to the clip below, Diaz is fed up with what he considers low payouts and a perceived lack of future opposition. Cesar Gracie suggests there's already a contract in place that Diaz has signed to face Fernando Vargas in a boxing match. Watch for yourself:
Franklin McNeil recently covered Diaz's desire to begin boxing:
Diaz is itching to box, and although he recently re-signed with Strikeforce (according to his trainer, Cesar Gracie), the deal includes a clause that allows Diaz to compete in a boxing match this year.
And Diaz is expected to exercise that clause. Facing a recognizable boxer can potentially land Diaz the largest paycheck of his career.
"In boxing, when you're a superstar, you get millions of dollars," Gracie told ESPN.com. "In MMA, you're not making that kind of money.
"We're in negotiations right now with [boxing promoter] Don Chargin. We would very much like to take a boxing match. It would probably be at super middleweight [168 pounds].
"There have been a few names kicked around. One of them is Fernando Vargas, another is Ricardo Mayorga."
But what about the assertion that Diaz is likely to make more money boxing? Is that realistic?
Brent Brookhouse throws cold water on the idea that greener pastures are there for Diaz in boxing:
One would have to figure that this would be a Showtime card and it absolutely would not be a pay-per-view or Showtime Championship Boxing which means you'd expect it to be somewhere between $500k and $100k that the network pays and not all that money makes it to the main event fighters as the undercard has to get paid and the promoters take a portion of the fee. Given that Mayorga was suing Don King over a contract that said he'd make $400,000 a fight, I doubt he's going to take $30k to fight Nick Diaz in a fight that does nothing for his career.
If Vargas is looking to make a comeback he may be willing to take a small payday just to get his name back in the public eye, but I wonder if Showtime would even make an offer for a Vargas/Diaz fight.
Regardless, I'm not sure that the money is out there for Diaz to make more than the $50k (purse only, not including sponsors) he made against KJ Noons or the reported $100k he made fighting Zaromskis simply because of the myth that all boxers take home absurd paychecks. The draw in a boxing match is going to be the boxer and no established boxer is taking a 50/50 split to fight someone who doesn't advance their career.
It's probably best for Diaz to fight out his Strikeforce deal and try to make the move to the UFC if he truly wants to make more money with his fists.
Brookhouse also compared the fight card payouts of top boxing PPV cards (cards Diaz is not likely to be on) with UFC fight cards. The results? They're pretty equivalent. And if you look at the general lay of the land in terms of what kind of payouts exist on which cards, there isn't a ton of evidence to support the larger notion that there's more money for Diaz in boxing.
Still, Diaz wouldn't likely sign the deal unless he were promised some figure he found compelling. The question is whether or not this is a one-off event that will be hard to duplicate. The macroeconomics of boxing say yes even if fighters can fleece promoters a handful of times.
We must question whether leaving MMA fights on the table altogether and replacing his MMA career with a run in boxing is even contractually feasible. The option to take boxing fights is categorically separate from leaving the sport in one fell swoop. The latter sounds eerily similar to Randy Couture "retiring" from his Zuffa contract.
We must also wonder if this is a bargaining ploy for UFC employment where Diaz would face a steady diet of top-ranked opposition and could likely garner higher payouts than his current Strikeforce contract can provide.
Whatever one thinks of Diaz's suggestion or the idea that he should move to the UFC, the notion that he'd quit MMA altogether and replace the activity with boxing would be a massive blow to Strikeforce's roster integrity. With more and more pressure being placed on Zuffa to poach Strikeforce talent for crossover fights, holding on to key figures is essential to give the Strikeforce name value and viability. With Diaz threatening to leave Strikeforce and the sport altogether, the organization's viability is under greater stress than ever.