Nick's knack for no-showing costs dearly
September, 7, 2011
By Josh Gross
Mark J. Rebilas for ESPN.comDown and out: Nick Diaz has only himself to blame for his latest debacle.Mid-morning Wednesday, Lorenzo Fertitta, the cool, calm and collected UFC chairman and CEO, wondered aloud via Twitter whether anyone knew where in the world welterweight Nick Diaz was. That actually happened and, it turns out, wasn't a joke. A few hours later, we all know where Diaz is.
Figuratively and perhaps literally lost.
Nope, you won't get to see Nick Diaz fight Georges St. Pierre on Oct. 29 in what many, myself included, held up as one of the most anticipated bouts of 2011. That privilege now belongs to a professional mixed martial artist by the name of Carlos Condit.
So Diaz is out of the fight. Maybe out of the UFC, too. Would you blame the organization? Let's be clear here: What use does the UFC have for amateurs?
It's one thing to be enigmatic. Why are fans so passionate about the man from Stockton, Calif.? Easy answer. He's a fighter. All day. Every day. He says and does what he wants, even if what he says and does is sometimes beyond comprehension, as it was Wednesday, for instance.
Hey, look at the guy. How cool is he? He doesn't take flak from anyone. He cusses, he smokes exotic substances (and doesn't deny it) and seems to live a life in general disarray. But man, can he fight! And boy, is he loyal to the people around him. He's the genuine article, a malcontent you can love.
Or is that past tense now?
Mark Rebilas for ESPN.comHis own worst enemy: Nick Diaz has come a long way ... but for what, exactly?
The act -- and I don't mean to imply it's an act; it's not -- is, as Gilbert Melendez told me before we all learned of the disappointing news, "classic Nick."
Sure is. The important point to remember, though, is that it works only so long as obligations are met and checks are cashed.
Never before had Diaz been required to meet the kinds of demands that come along with challenging St. Pierre for his UFC welterweight championship.
This is the pinnacle of mixed martial arts and, as it turns out, the highest place from which to fall.
Enigmatic? Yeah, right. Straight up unprofessional. That's what Nick Diaz is. And I'm not even the one saying it -- although I absolutely agree.
This is his manager, trainer and frustrated friend Cesar Gracie talking. The man who awarded Diaz a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and stuck beside him when the best win of his career disappeared in a cloud of pungent smoke. The same Gracie who went to war with the California State Athletic Commission in Diaz's defense. The man who stood with Diaz after the unfortunate brawl on network television that pushed MMA right off network television (let's be fair, Diaz was a victim of circumstances that night, although images of him rearing back to punch Jason Miller still linger in the atmosphere). This is Gracie talking, not me. Gracie, who not so many months ago pulled a brilliant move by influencing Diaz away from a floundering promotion onto the sport's biggest stage against arguably it's most dominant athlete.
Now what? Slam your head into a wall. That's what.
Nick Diaz is supposed to be a 28-year-old man, which is something Gracie reminded me of after word broke that the fight was off. In reality, we all know he's a child. He thought he knew what he wanted. He got it. He couldn't handle the responsibility and failed. This was basic. Car payment and making rent basic.
If you're a professional fighter, you show up to news conferences. You make flights and handle your business. That's what you get paid for. The fighting, as Chuck Liddell so often said, is the fun stuff. That's all it seems Diaz is equipped to do. And, sorry, it's just not enough anymore.
When talking about Nick Diaz, UFC president Dana White often referenced the fighter's inability to "play the game." There are several ways to read into that, but in the most real sense, doing whatever it is you said you would do is what matters. It's the mundane stuff, because who wants to do that? No one. But people do it because the dance falls to pieces otherwise.
It's too late to salvage this disaster, but maybe -- dare I say hopefully -- Diaz will come to understand the reality. I don't have any inkling that he will.
He screwed up. He got what he deserved. That's not me saying this. That's his people saying this. Diaz disappointed his closest friends, his allies, his teammates. These are the people he always speaks so glowingly about. They're the ones, he says, who matter most. Hey Nick, they're the ones who matter most! And yet here you are, failing on so many levels to live up to the promises you made.
Forget for a moment about doing what your promoter required of you, even if it is the most powerful entity in the sport and decided to pay you a lot of money and offer an unprecedented opportunity. But what about the guys in the room? The Cesar Gracie family? Oh, how Diaz disappointed them.
And what of the fans who were so vocal in their desire to see Diaz fight St. Pierre in the UFC? They're as responsible for making the fight as Gracie was with his masterful contractual parlor tricks. How are they supposed to feel?
All of that energy and time and money. Gone without a return because Nick Diaz couldn't be bothered to get to Toronto and Las Vegas and actually earn his keep.