Last Saturday, Nick Diaz put on one of the most exciting rounds in recent MMA history with the help of Paul Daley in the first major Strikeforce event held under Zuffa ownership. After a back and forth battle, Diaz was able to polish off Daley with seconds left in the round, retaining his Strikeforce welterweight title. The MMA world was buzzing over the possibility of Diaz matching up against the UFC's welterweight division, and how a potential move to the "major league" of MMA would play out for the Stockton native. Win, lose, or draw, it's hard to believe any match with Diaz in the UFC would be anything short of exciting.
Alas, Diaz may not only avoid the UFC, he may be dropping MMA all together. Here's a sneak peak at "Inside MMA" on HDNet, where not only is Diaz talking about the move, trainer Cesar Gracie goes as far as to say they've signed to fight Fernando Vargas:
Diaz has been vocal (what's new?) about wanting to get paid, and being interested in stepping into the boxing ring to get a crack at some major paydays. Brent Brookhouse already shot idea down over at BloodyElbow back in January when Diaz began the boxing talk:
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.
Let's also keep in mind that Diaz made $175k, not including sponsor money for his fight with Daley. Is the deal really going to be any sweeter if Diaz moves into boxing? Unless he fully intends on making boxing his career and racking up big wins early to get "big" paydays in the near future, I just don't see how this really makes sense when it comes to money. If anything, I would have expected Diaz to start holding out for more money in MMA, or try to get a deal that sees him in the UFC sooner rather than later.
After the jump, Fernando Vargas says he hasn't talked to the Diaz camp, Gracie shares more potential boxing match ups, and will MMA fans take interest in Diaz's move into the world of boxing?
Further news in regards to Diaz moving to boxing, Sherdog spoke with Vargas, who says he has not been contacted in regards to fighting Diaz:
"Nobody has contacted me or my team about a fight with Nick Diaz for a supposed September fight," said Vargas. "I have not been in the gym but I have been running and keeping myself in shape. If they're serious about fighting me then put the money where their mouth is and let's see what they're talking about."
Now, Cesar Gracie is saying that they're looking at different possible opponents for Diaz, and former IBF super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy is at the top of the list:
"We've already signed on with [boxing promoter] Don Chargin to take the fight. He's contacting [Lacy's camp]," said Gracie. "[Lacy] is a scrapper. I think he and Nick could [put on a great show]."
"There are a couple of names. There's [Ring Magazine middleweight champion] Sergio Martinez. I don't know if he even knows about this," said Gracie. "[Ricardo] Mayorga isn't out of the question. I think Don King has his contract. But we're looking at big names. Guys with name recognition."
Diaz's contract will allow for one boxing fight in 2011, so it's not as thought he'll be able to go out and knock around a few scrubs just to build a record to flaunt around at the bargaining table. It seems as though this is serious, and something that Diaz wants to do. I believe he'd actually handle himself quite nicely, maybe not against some of the names he's looking to fight, but put Diaz in there with a journeyman boxer and I think he may very well tear him apart. That's the scary thing about Diaz, and something these boxers need to be wary of, they have plenty of tape to watch of Diaz fighting in MMA, but it's highly doubtful that Diaz's boxing will be exactly like his MMA striking, and going in blind against any fighter is dangerous, whether they're 0-0 in professional boxing or not.
Not only is Diaz being an MMA champion moving into boxing a scary prospect, I find it to be highly intriguing. I don't think Diaz will be successful should he face any of the names mentioned, but dammit, I'd love to see him try. His persona will fit beautifully into boxing, and if it transitions well, his striking will too. I'm curious as to whether or not MMA fans will follow Diaz's foray into the sport of boxing, should it happen. MMA has seen a great deal of success due to cross over fans from the world of Professional Wrestling, could boxing see even a fraction of that success if an MMA star ventured into their world? With Diaz being one of the biggest names on the Strikeforce roster, would Zuffa even let this fire burn for long without throwing water on it? I'm not sure, but I suspect we'll be hearing more and more on the situation as the month rolls on.
How do YOU feel about the Diaz's potential move?
Photo via Dave Mandel, for Sherdog