Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Hooker Explains Why Diaz Free Agency Is “Dangerous” For UFC

UFC lightweight Dan Hooker believes that the departure of MMA superstar Nate Diaz is “extremely dangerous” for the promotion.

Following talk of a whole host of possible opponents and multiple calls for his release throughout this year, Diaz was finally able to fight out his contract this past weekend at UFC 279.

While the Stockton native was initially scheduled to face undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimaev in a much-debated booking, the Chechen-born Swede’s weight miss forced some late card changes, leaving Diaz sharing the Octagon with fellow veteran Tony Ferguson.

Culminating his UFC tenure in style, Diaz submitted “El Cucuy” in the fourth round with 2:09 on the clock. And with that, the 37-year-old fan favorite confirmed his intentions to explore ventures outside of the organization that he’s been a part of since 2007.

While UFC President Dana White wished Diaz well during his appearance at the post-fight press conference, one member of his promotion’s roster expects him and other higher-ups to be concerned about the impact that the TUF 5 winner’s exit could have.

Hooker: Diaz Could Lead By Example

Appearing on The Allstar’s UFC 279 reaction video, #14-ranked lightweight contender Dan Hooker discussed Diaz’s departure.

Explaining the effect it could have on the MMA leader, “The Hangman” suggested that Diaz is now in a position to demonstrate where top UFC names would stand if they chose to test free agency.

That, Hooker said, has the potential to open the eyes of a lot of fighters.

“By him fighting out of his contract… leaving on a win, leaving as a huge pay-per-view star — he can test free agency, right?” Hooker said. “And he now has the ability to show other UFC fighters where they stand in the open market, which is incredibly dangerous for the UFC. If he goes out and PFL drops millions of dollars to sign him, or Rizin drops millions of dollars to sign him, or he goes away and fights Floyd Mayweather and gets $10 million; it’s really gonna open a lot of other UFC fighters’ eyes.

“So, I really can see the UFC doubling, tripling, quadrupling whatever contract he was on just so that doesn’t happen, so fighters aren’t as aware of their ability (outside the UFC) — because it’s never been done with a guy like that in Nate Diaz’s position,” Hooker added. “It’s usually when guys are going out on a huge loan, you know what I mean? Or going out on huge losses.”

Per Diaz himself, the UFC were willing to negotiate his ultimatum, which involved the signing of 10 of his teammates in exchange for his own re-commitment. While it didn’t come to fruition, the Stockton native noted that the promotion looked at opening up spots on TUF and DWCS.

With that in mind, it perhaps wouldn’t be surprising to see the UFC continue to send offers Diaz’s way, as Hooker suggested.

Whilst clearly the biggest, Diaz isn’t the only notable name to have fought out their contract in recent times. Having defeated Charles Jourdain in July, then-ranked featherweight Shane Burgos explored other options before signing a lucrative deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

And just last week, one-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos vacated his spot in the top 10 and followed “Hurricane” to the PFL’s SmartCage.

While the pair’s contracts and success outside the Octagon could tempt other contenders to follow suit, perhaps Diaz’s upcoming exploits will convince some of the bigger names in the UFC to assess their options, too.

Do you agree with Dan Hooker’s assessment?

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