UFC legend Chael Sonnen that Nate Diaz has blown the opportunity to earn as much as $12million for a trilogy fight with Conor McGregor by leaving the promotion.
Diaz is currently 1-1 with the biggest star in all of MMA, having beaten him in their hastily-arranged 2016 bout at UFC 196 before losing their rematch at UFC 202 a few months later. The trilogy has been talked about at length over the past six years, but has never happened as the Irishman moved on to another world title and a boxing match of his own with Floyd Mayweather.
Now, it appears that the third bout may never happen with Diaz leaving the UFC following his win earlier this month over Tony Ferguson. The American is now turning his attention to the boxing world, where Jake Paul is an expected opponent among other possible names.
But Sonnen argues that holding out and waiting for the McGregor trilogy may have been a better choice for Diaz, given the amount of money on offer. Both men are seemingly past their primes and the former two-weight world champion isn't even cleared for competition at the moment due to a broken leg, but it would still draw monstrous attention worldwide.
"I guess he's going to boxing," Sonnen said during an interview with Middle Easy. "I mean, I can't imagine the money. He's probably staring at about $12 million dollars to go and fight Conor McGregor a third time. I can't imagine there's that kind of money, even half of that in boxing.
"I know that's the rumour and what we keep getting told, but I don't know that it's true. Nate said he's going to go back to the UFC. He wants to go and do something else, he didn't elaborate or get very specific but he wants to do something else. Then he said he's going to come back, but like anybody the clock is ticking, we'll see."
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Sonnen believes any Diaz return to the octagon would be short-lived, given his lack of activity at the best of times. He has fought just four times since the second McGregor fight, which was three years prior to his bout with Anthony Pettis, and Sonnen believes he could be a fun fighter to spring for occasional events.
"If he does come back, it might be for one more," he theorised. "But there could also be a carve out opportunity if he comes back to the boss where he says 'I want to do this but I also want to have a contract with you if you could ever use me'. It's not like the UFC could ever really depend on Nate Diaz, he fought once a year on average over the last five years, twice in really, really busy years.
"They could bring him in, they could have him as a one-off, it's a unique situation, not sustainable, not a business practice that Dana should turn to. But there could be an exception and that exception could definitely be Nate."