Nate Diaz's former agency files lawsuit over contract dispute

Dallas-based sports agency The Ballengee Group has filed a civil lawsuit against UFC star Nate Diaz, claiming he failed to pay the agency for its services related to several of his fights, including a lucrative two-fight rivalry with Conor McGregor.

The Ballengee Group filed the suit in district court in Texas this week. According to the complaint, which ESPN obtained a copy of, the plaintiffs seek more than $1 million.

The lawsuit alleges that Diaz, 32, assigned The Ballengee Group as his agent of record in 2014. The agency claims it negotiated on behalf of Diaz a total of four fights, including both contests against McGregor last year.

Attorney Jason Friedman, who is representing The Ballengee Group, told ESPN that Diaz cut ties with the agency around July 2016, one month before the second McGregor fight. Diaz's disclosed pay for that event, UFC 202, was $2 million.

"The Diaz-McGregor fight was one of the highest-grossing fights of all time, and The Ballengee Group negotiated that deal for Nate," Friedman said. "He left them at the altar. The Ballengee Group brought him to the show, and he left them at the altar.

"The Ballengee Group made several attempts to work this out and they were completely rebuffed by Diaz and his camp."

When reached by ESPN, Diaz's publicist Zach Rosenfield said, "We have no comment at this time."

The Ballengee Group came to represent Diaz through his older brother, Nick, who is also a UFC star and former Strikeforce welterweight champion.

According to the lawsuit, the Diaz brothers encouraged a third UFC fighter, female bantamweight Leslie Smith, to sign with The Ballengee Group in 2015. The agency claims Smith also chose to terminate her deal in 2016, and that both she and Diaz have said they will not pay for prior services.

In addition to Diaz, the lawsuit lists Smith and California-based attorney Sam A. Awad as defendants. The suit accuses the three parties of engaging in a "scheme to systematically and unlawfully breach their agreements."

Diaz (19-11) hasn't fought since his second fight against McGregor at UFC 202 in August. Diaz defeated McGregor at UFC 196 in March before losing the rematch via majority decision. In addition to MMA, The Ballengee Group represents MLB players, NBA officials and PGA and LPGA athletes.