Nick Diaz is must-see TV, inside and outside the Octagon
Despite a strange relationship with media and promotions throughout his entire career, Nick Diaz is a fighter who relishes being involved in the biggest fights possible.
That’s hard to imagine, considering Diaz once torpedoed his own shot at the UFC welterweight title when he failed to show up to a press conference with then-champion Georges St-Pierre before being re-booked in another main event fight against B.J. Penn instead.
But even his infamous no-show was one of the most talked about moments of the entire year.
Diaz eventually fought St-Pierre for the welterweight title, losing by unanimous decision before retiring from the sport altogether until another huge opportunity came along. This Saturday, Diaz faces former middleweight champion and pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 183.
On paper the fight doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Diaz has spent the majority of his career fighting as a welterweight, and the highest weight he’s competed at in previous bouts was 180 pounds when he took on Frank Shamrock and Scott Smith in Strikeforce.
Still, Diaz somehow ended up as the best choice for this fight — and maybe the only choice, considering the interest level everyone has been showing in preparation for UFC 183 to arrive.
They’re going to use me to fight the most important guy because any guys that you’ve got out there right now aren’t really shining too hard.
— Nick Diaz
"They’re going to use me to fight the most important guy because any guys that you’ve got out there right now aren’t really shining too hard," Diaz said recently. "So they’ll use me any time they need a guy for a big fight. They need a real fighter that fights the way that they want. Then all they’ve got to do is make a deal with me."
Diaz has actually been asking to fight Silva for several years, but the deal came together because it was the right time and for the right money. Diaz once famously proclaimed that he would fight Jason "Mayhem" Miller at middleweight for a "couple of million dollars" and even said within the last year that the only way he’d be drawn back to the UFC would be for a paycheck that read at least half of a million dollars.
At this stage in his career, Diaz has even moved past competing for titles because he’s focused solely on being the best prize fighter the sport has ever known.
"I’ve already built notoriety, so they’re going to want to use me, I think, even for just a big show or a medium show," Diaz said. "They’re going to want to use me. So if we make a deal for a fight, then I’ll fight; otherwise, it’s not about fighting for a title. If I have a title, it’s because I decided to take a fight. It’s not about winning the belt.
"For me, I already fought some of the best people there are. I already did what I needed to do for me, so now it’s just more about having the right fight, making the right deal."
Diaz will walk into the Octagon on Saturday night as a decided underdog to Silva, who will be in his first fight since a horrific leg injury suffered in his rematch against Chris Weidman in December 2013 nearly ended his career. Currently, oddsmakers have Silva as almost a 5-to-1 favorite over Diaz, and if Silva wins the UFC has stated he’ll be competing for the middleweight title in his next bout.
Diaz doesn’t have those same assurances and he doesn’t really care.
If Diaz beats Silva, it will position him for any number of fights — maybe he stays at middleweight and faces another top-ranked opponent, or maybe the UFC convinces him to go back to welterweight for a rematch with champion Robbie Lawler, who he knocked out in their first meeting at UFC 47.
And even if Georges St-Pierre comes out of retirement, Diaz would gladly accept a rematch if the money on the table made sense. But as Diaz said, it’s never going to be about titles, and it’s never going to be about redemption or legacy.
"For Georges St-Pierre, if we can have another fight then maybe I would take a fight," Diaz said. But for the belt, it’s not — for me — for the UFC and the fans. If they want to decide they want to fight, then they’ll make a deal and we’ll have a fight."
Whether it’s conference calls when he blasts St-Pierre for living a "pampered" lifestyle or stare downs where anything from middle fingers to fists go flying, Diaz is must-see television before, during and after every fight he’s ever had, and that won’t change going into UFC 183 this weekend.
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