FanPost

Even across a deep UFC roster, The Diaz brothers are prize fighters- please act accordingly.

The Diaz brother are prize fighters. They've known what it took, and have earned their place. Many in the sport aim nobly to climb over bodies to scale the rankings to eventually contend and reach for the title. The Diaz brothers don't chase plastic belts/cummerbunds, they chase and promote through their authentic Stockton brawler brand, then put on a show (across near all their fights), and put simply deserve the treatment and paper to match.

Behind the slick promo videos, flashy lights, and alluring facade of Las Vegas, the fight game quickly boils down to a point where it is clear the fighters are the ones doing the hard work, the fighters putting their bodies on the line, the fighters grinding day in- day out, whilst providing all the actual sustenance, content, entertainment and value for eager fans. What doesn't add up is the numbers- if they're stepping in their each time to potentially get kicked in the head, at least pay the people.

Currently, even at the worlds largest promotion, over a decade since both Diaz brothers started on the scene, many professional fighters struggle, with many making a loss. According to a 2017 Bleacher Report independent analysis, the median UFC fighters annual salary averaged US $42,000. #14 ranked UFC light heavyweight Tyson Pedro mentioned, while on The GrangeTV podcast with Robert Whittaker (EP17), that for his first large fight camp, he emptied his savings in order to work at Jackson-Wink, costing him US$28,500 ($40,000 AUD). Eights weeks preparation for Pedro cost almost two-thirds of the average 52-week salary of a UFC fighter, never mind the finance necessary to support fighters throughout the rest of the year. To give further insight, while the UFC recorded an annual revenue of $592 million for 2015-16, fighter salaries made up only 15.6%. In addition, Pedro and Whittaker went on to discuss how around 60% of what fighters earn goes directly to overheads, including management, travel, gyms, coaches, trainers, doctors, physiotherapists and an array of fight week expenses, in addition to specific and often expensive nutrition and supplements.

Many fighters rely on sponsors to support themselves, their families and their teams- but this option, for many in the UFC, is now impaired and replaced by a small, highly-criticised sponsorship perk from Reebok, with fighters on the roster reportedly much worse off. Past UFC heavyweight, podcaster, and comedian Brendan Schaub claimed his sponsorship pay went from six figures to $10,000 under the deal, his figures supported by a 2015 Bloody Elbow survey suggesting 7/9 fighters thought the deal was unfair, 8/9 fighters would lose money, with the average figure of around $20,000-$25,000 in sponsorship money lost each fight. Miesha Tate suggested the tiered system widened the pay discrepancy between male and female fighters, rewarding those with more fights despite the UFC only welcoming female weight-classes a few years prior. Whilst many remained quiet, not wanting to poke the bear, Bellator happily scooped up many other unimpressed fighters who had run their UFC contracts- Benson Henderson said the deal was a "big part" of his decision to switch organisations, Ryan Bader- that despite being on a higher tier for the Reebok deal- it "still wasn't a fraction of what (he) was making" with other sponsors prior, and Gegard Mousasi recognised the exclusive clothing sponsorship as "terrible", in which "99% of the fighters are not happy". A modest average salary, compounded by further hampering on relied upon revenue streams, creates a constant up-hill battle for those even in the UFC, never mind the thousands of other fighters working towards competing at that top level.

Years before Reebok, eldest brother Nick Diaz has plied his trade across the world- Vegas, Japan, Hawaii, California- across organisations- UFC. Pride, EliteXC, Dream- and despite both brothers not particularly chasing belts, was welterweight champion at WEC and Strikeforce (with 3 defences). This was all before fighters were getting paid adequately. As a sign of the times back then, former UFC bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz was noted saying he didn't get paid, and in-fact had to pay the promoters to fight in his first fight. Diaz, over 14 UFC fights, discounting his work at other organisations, is all the way back at number 100 among the best ever paid UFC fighters, edging out Takanori Gomi and Mike Pyle. Sure, all three of these athletes put it on the line, adding to their sport and organisations, but tell me, whose impact stands out more? - In 2004, Diaz, a young lad known more-so as a jiu-jitsu practitioner, stands and exchanges with ex-champion Robbie Lawler, a man to always be weary of, but Diaz shows his now infamous built-in persistence and slick hands, ending Lawler with the face-plant finish. Or how about later having an amazing back and fourth three-round tussle with Diego Sanchez? Or notable wins over prime BJ Penn and Paul Daley? All this above an already distinguished career, and later still providing all the ingredients -from the call-outs leading to press conferences, to now iconic hood charisma creating a sea of promotion, all culminating in highly sought-after, entertaining, and contested fights with arguably two of the greatest of all time; Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. I'll tell you whose impact stands out more, and "don't be scared homie(s)" - Nick Diaz.

Younger brother Nate Diaz has been a UFC stalemate over the years, losing a few close decisions, but generally showcasing his exciting and grinding style to wear down opponents- earning a record 15 UFC bonuses across his exhibitions. Luck may have presented the opportunity for Nate to step in on 11 days notice for an injured Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, but it certainly wasn't luck that saw him choke-out Ireland's Conor McGregor in the second round. Naturally fans requested and rallied for a rematch, setting up an even larger fight and pay-day. We only have to look as far as the recent words of UFC announcer Bruce Buffer to see Nate's financial woes aren't as pressing as many other fighters in the sport. Buffer claimed Diaz made over $7 million in his last fight at UFC 202, with reports ranging from $5 million to as much as $13 million. This pair of fights are still the highest ever UFC pay-per-views of all time, and at a time where the company is making record profits on the back of these stars- McGregor and Diaz, as well as the hype surrounding Rhonda Rousey.

Similar to the UFC, Nate wasn't always making big money, but both earned their position in their respective markets. What the fans want, what generates hype, and what historically has offered exciting fights are still the ingredients for the company to generate revenue. Merely four months before UFC 196, Diaz fought Michael Johnson for a guaranteed $20,000, securing for the win an additional $20,000. Subsequently, of no fault of his own, his next fight propels him into sports history, feeding fans and company books alike, setting up the UFC to be sold a few events later for $4 billion to WME-IMG; unprecedented across any sport. If the UFC plans to re-coop money from the sale, they know they need stars. A formula is already written in their inherited past. Record company profits can be made again, and the lions share can remain, but potential match-ups are being denied in already time constrained careers by a complacency and willingness to effectively short change the talent- a simple fix really. For fighters who know their value, this merely offers an ever-increasing barrier to step back into the octagon. This simultaneously punishes the fans, fighters, and the organisations success- creating less content and fights, ensuring poorer remuneration for fighters, and restricting the size of potential events. In-turn, the sport and its growth suffers.

Before Nate's last pay-day at UFC 202, when asked how big the sum would be, Diaz replied "less than I deserve". The Diaz brothers know their worth, and there is no need to deny mutually beneficial outcomes, as with effective management and appreciation for mutual interests, the world can see these stars shine once again. The people want legitimate world-class boxing coupled with always threatening and superbly executed Gracie jiu-jitsu.

In the boxing realm, the players represent themselves, free from corporations, and free to take home a fair slice of what fans globally are willing to pay. Current pay restrictions and structures at the UFC, the worlds peak MMA organisation, don't allow even close to that. The Diaz brothers may not strike you as intellectuals, but they are not stupid. They are fighters that in this day and age understand what they bring to the octagon. Their value to fans, the organisation, and sport. MMA fighters can and should have the opportunity to earn a pay-day relatively closer to what they earn for organisations, but still no where near what they effectively deserve.

The Diaz Brothers are prize fighters, fighters that know their value and understand their worth, please act accordingly.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.