Nick Diaz is the MMA equivalent of Mike Tyson minus the explosive knockout power and speech impediment (the latter might be arguable given some of his in-car rants but I digress). He is supremely talented, enigmatic, and plays by his own set of rules. He is able to separate himself from the circus surrounding the sport, even to his own professional detriment, and focus on the only meaningful thing in the whole charade – the fight in front of him.
Wednesday afternoon Diaz was apparently caught off-guard by an obligation to participate in a conference call with media pertaining to UFC 137, phoning in more than thirty minutes after the festivities had begun and drawing fire from a number of folks after no-showing two previous press conferences in a move ultimately costing him the title-shot against Georges St. Pierre he was originally scheduled for on October 29.
You won’t find me among them.
Diaz’s unexpected absence and quarter-hour of participation created more buzz for UFC 137 than Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione did together in the preceding forty-five minutes and maybe even more than GSP/Carlos Condit did in the weeks preceding the cancellation of their championship clash. That’s no knock on any of the fighters – just a truthful observation regarding the magnetism surrounding Diaz’s oft bizarre behavior. Fans are fascinated by him and for good reason.
Simply put, Diaz stands alone in a sea of fighters who give cookie-cutter answers, pose for cameras, and play the game. Furthermore, beyond the appeal of his personality, Diaz is also supremely skilled. He’s an incredible boxer – the best in Mixed Martial Arts according to BJ Penn who himself holds at least a Masters Degree in the Sweet Science – and is a threat from any position on the ground. Stockton’s favorite son is one-of-a-kind and things fitting such a description are captivating by nature.
Call him a genius, call him an idiot savant. At the end of the day, MMA needs more fighters like Diaz; more men and women who put a premium on pugilism rather than poppycock to please others. I guarantee the former Strikeforce champion would fight anytime, anyplace if the price was right. What he won’t do is show up for an interview at said address or hour because it takes away from his preparation for the actual bout he knows is eventually coming.
He’s already said the Strikeforce belt meant nothing to him. If you believe the UFC strap would be that much more rewarding to him other than the potential paydays involved you may be smoking some of Diaz’s private stash. He fights for the competition and cash, not to win a popularity contest, and there’s something very real about such an approach that should be commended, not criticized.
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PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE