There’s no question that Nate Diaz has become one of the UFC’s biggest names in recent years. But is the Stockton star one of the promotion’s top, pay-per-view draws? If he’s not fighting Conor McGregor? Jon Anik says yes.
For years now, Diaz has been a fan favorite with the hardcore fan base, on account of his brash statements, actions and yes, fighting ability. Even die hard fans who may not care for him, or his brother Nick Diaz, almost always, certainly tune in when they are competing. Since they are two of the sport’s most captivating and at times, polarizing figures.
Well, more recently, however, Nate Diaz has become a mainstream commodity, on account of his two fights with Conor McGregor. If mainstream / casual fans didn’t really know who Diaz was back in 2016, that all changed when he submitted the superstar at UFC 196.
But, some have questioned if Diaz is one of the top draws for the UFC, if he’s not scrapping McGregor. Well, recently UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik had this to say, while discussing this very topic (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“If you’re asking me, I think he’s a top five pay-per-view draw in the company right now,” Anik said. “I think Daniel Cormier is in that mix because he’s been buoyed by the two Jon Jones fights. But I think Nate Diaz can carry a pay-per-view without Conor McGregor. Will he be afforded that opportunity? I don’t know.
“…I think it’s interesting when you talk about him as a pay-per-view draw. What do the internal metrics say about how much Nate Diaz moves that needle relative to his opponent (in his first two pay-per-view main events), Conor McGregor? … I think Nate Diaz can carry a pay-per-view and do 400,000-plus pay-per-view buys on his own. I really do. Even in a non-championship situation. I don’t know if my bosses agree, but I’d love to see him be afforded that opportunity.”
Now, it should be noted here that since Anik works for the company, he could have insights on PPV numbers that the public doesn’t. It’s widely recognized that Diaz’s bouts with McGregor were the biggest fights in UFC history.
This aside, when you look at the names Anik mentioned, it’s certainly possible that Diaz is up in the top five, on his own. Who else, besides McGregor, Jones, and Cormier could pull more PPVs? Possibly Khabib Nurmagomedov if he wins the title at UFC 223? Georges St-Pierre is likely up there, and so would be Brock Lesnar, if he returns to the Octagon.
It will be interesting to see what comes next for Diaz. Recently he’s said he plans to return to the cage. Hopefully that happens sooner than later.