Mixed Martial Arts and UFC icon Nate Diaz didn't pull any punches yesterday when he took issue with the UFC’s launch of its “209 Drop" NFT collection. The collection featured Nate and his brother, fellow UFC fighter Nick Diaz, as part of a special 4/20 drop.
But far from dope, Nate says the NFTs are “bullshit.”
"It's shit like this why I need to get the fuck out of the sorry ass UFC. Didn't you guys suspend nick for 5 years and fine me hella money for a vape pen?! Now you're reaping the benefits. I hope nobody buys this bullshit," Diaz tweeted in response.
NFTs are cryptographically unique tokens used to demonstrate ownership over digital (and sometimes physical) assets. These assets can take the form of artwork, music, or in-game items in video games. In this case, the NFTs were video files featuring moments from the Diaz brother's fights in the UFC and part of the larger UFC Strike collection. UFC Strike was launched in partnership with Dapper Labs, the company also responsible for sports NFT collectibles on the NBA Top Shop and NFL All Day platforms.
In August 2016, Nate Diaz came under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) due to an impromptu vape pen promo during a post-fight press conference following his rematch with former Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor at UFC 202. Diaz said at the time that he was only smoking CDB oil.
"It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that," Diaz said. "So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It'll make your life a better place."
USADA issued a warning to Diaz in October 2016, but by 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, from its prohibited list. The elder Diaz, Nick, was suspended for five years after testing positive for marijuana in January 2015 and received a $165,000 fine by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Diaz's criticism was seemingly meant to highlight the apparent hypocrisy of previously fining and suspending athletes over cannabis use while now profiting from those actions through promotional efforts like these new UFC-branded NFTs.
The issue also likely has less to do with NFTs and more to do with Diaz's at-times contentious relationship with the UFC, since the MMA promotion has stated in the past that fighters receive only 50% of the sale of these UFC Strike NFTs.
"The reality is that this product is one where you take the UFC brand, you take the fighter's likeness, you put them together and 1+1=4 or 5," UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein told Sportico in an interview last year. "A 50-50 split makes sense. It's fair, and it reflects what both sides are delivering to the product."
It’s worth noting that Diaz publicly asked the UFC to release him from his contract last month. Calling out the sale of the UFC Strike NFTs may be a way for the fighter to get the MMA promotion's attention.
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