Thursday, June 2, 2011

Details on Nick Diaz's new UFC/Strikeforce contract; Cesar Gracie comments on Diaz's Strikeforce future

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

The announcement by UFC President Dana White on Wednesday that Nick Diaz and Georges St. Pierre will meet at UFC 137 in October was met with jubilation among the MMA community, and comes after White tried to quell discussion of the fight over the last couple of weeks.

There were "hurdles" to getting the fight done, according to White, but they've figured out a way to get the first major Strikeforce vs. UFC crossover fight together, and it's coming with a new dual UFC/Strikeforce contract that may be the norm going forward.

According to Diaz's trainer and manager Cesar Gracie in a number of interviews, Diaz on Tuesday signed a new multi-fight, multi-year contract with the UFC that allows him to also fight in Strikeforce. Though he didn't reveal the amount of fights in every interview, a report from USAToday says it's for eight fights.

A separate report from HeavyMMA states that Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is expected to be offered similar stipulations in a new deal with the organization.

The deal is likely a very lucrative step up for Diaz, especially with the new contract nullifying his ability to box, which was a clause he had in his previous deal with Strikeforce. Gracie wouldn't give specifics, but did say the UFC was very fair with them.

"They were very fair in their dealings with us," he said. "It was kind of a complex contract because of the boxing, so he obviously had to be compensated for not boxing and taking this fight instead."

Gracie told Ariel Helwani at that the UFC had looked at either Canada or Las Vegas for the bout, but that they didn't know which one it would be at until Wednesday. Additionally, he wasn't certain if Diaz's Strikeforce Welterweight Title will be on the line in the bout, but did have something interesting to say regarding whether he thought Diaz would be back in the Strikeforce cage:

"Hopefully [this marks the end of his Strikeforce run]," Gracie said. "If he's back in Strikeforce, I would imagine that's because he lost his next fight."

Penick's Analysis: That last quote is an interesting one, but it certainly makes sense. The exposure is in the UFC, the money is in fights in the UFC, but a loss to St. Pierre could send him back to Showtime. The UFC is likely making some tradeoffs with Showtime to get these crossover fights working, and I'd suspect that we'll see some UFC guys signing new contracts like this in order to send some more names over to Showtime in the Strikeforce cage as well. But this does mean they've found a way to work around some of the issues, and we'll get to see these crossover fights, meaning we might finally get to see Gilbert Melendez take on the UFC Lightweight Champion at some point in the near future, and Heavyweight Champ Alistair Overeem could make the jump sooner as well with a win over Fabricio Werdum (pending whatever they do with the Grand Prix), but this is all great news and a great step on this new path. It also has to be said, but Cesar Gracie did a great job in setting Diaz up to get a contract like this. While there have been valid complaints over Diaz's level of competition for the last several years, he built himself up well outside of the UFC, used a clause for boxing to his advantage in negotiations and now has a shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship and the type of money he's been looking for now for some time.

[Nick Diaz photo credit Esther Lin via]


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