The Diaz brothers have always been well known for their lack of a filter when it comes to speaking to the media – in and out of the cage. Both Nick and Nate are known for their candid and sometimes volatile comments which have often gotten them into hot water. Most recently Nate Diaz found himself treading in some trouble when he spoke his mind amount fellow UFC fighter, Pat Healy, having his purse penalized after his purse penalized for testing positive for marijuana use (an issue that older brother Nick has been busted for on a number of different occasions). Nate’s frank comments cost him $20,000 and a 3 month suspension. The question now is: Was Nate treated fairly? And does this set a bad precedent for the future?
MMA fighters are well known for having the words twisted. When coming out of the cage, adrenaline still pumping through the veins, sometimes these athletes tend to speak out of turn without even realizing. As mentioned, the Diaz brothers have been notorious for this – even when there is no adrenaline to blame. Little brother, Nate called Bryan Caraway a “the biggest f-g in the world” for being awarded part of Pat Healy’s purse and this drew the ire of media outlets civil rights groups and the UFC brass. Nate’s manager did his best to try and save face for his fighter (albeit very much in vein), by saying that his comment was not meant to be a gay slur – probably just rubbing salt into an already tender wound. Nate likely didn’t mean his comment in the context in which it was meant to be said, let’s be honest with ourselves for a second – that doesn’t absolve him of the comment made.
So, was Nate treated fairly with his fine and suspension? I think it needed to be done from a UFC PR perspective. Everyone knows that Dana White, above and beyond all people, is fairly frank with the comments that he makes – but, has been generally relatively careful not offend any groups while doing so. Nate’s 3 month suspension isn’t really that harsh in reality. Given Nate has an estimated net worth of about $500,000, the $20,000 fine isn’t that big of a dent… and I truthfully don’t think living expenses in Stockton are too demanding right now.
Second question: “Does this set a bad precedent (the UFC penalizing Diaz for his comments)?” I think anyone who says that this sets a bad precedent for the future is a fool. These fighters are role models and the face of a growing sport, back-handed comments like this – regardless of the context that they were meant in – damage credibility of the sport and the fighter. I think in the long-term Nate will see this as more of a plus to him – comments like this severely damage his earning potential (through sponsorship), and by getting slapped on the wrist the burn will start to heal and blow over.
I do hope that Nate doesn’t take this to a Diaz-extreme, and claim he’s going to retire – because, I do genuinely enjoy watching him fight. I also enjoy watching him build a fight… and when he comes back from his suspension EVERYONE will be listening to his pre-fight hype with the closest attention – which should be great for PPV buys!
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