February, 10, 2012
By Josh Gross
Rod Mar for ESPN.comDoes this look like someone who wants to change his ways?If you've followed Nick Diaz's career at all, maybe even just caught a glimpse of the recent UFC Primetime, you know this if you know anything about the man: He does what he wants.
That is, until he can't anymore.
That's where to begin and end with Diaz. And while the results of what he does (or doesn't do) can be sometimes frustrating and infuriating for fans and friends around him, how can anyone really hate on the guy?
Hear me out.
Diaz is a walking "who cares" to the world. Don't we need people like that to keep us sane?
In 2007, after Diaz tested positive for "off the charts" levels of THC following his bout against Takanori Gomi, I slammed him. Last year, when he failed to live up to his duties as a professional fighter and appeared to cost himself, the fans, his teammates and his promoter a giant fight against Georges St. Pierre, I let him have it.
But for what? To pretend like Diaz would read my columns and the lightbulb would turn on? No, I wrote those pieces because I saw a talented guy throwing everything away. I hate that. It's horrible in its unvarnished reality to take in.
Remembering Diaz for what he did in the ring against Gomi would be so much better than remembering him for what happened next. But that’s not how it went down.
Well, he didn't beat Carlos Condit on Saturday, so the scenario is different. But the price is much higher. And, not that this is anyone’s concern but mine, I can't wade into this again. Not this time. Or the time after that.
AP Photo/Eric JamisonIt's a pity we'll most likely remember Diaz for what he did outside the cage and not for his achievements in it.
Truth be told, in some strange way I have more respect for Diaz in the wake of his second positive test for marijuana in Nevada -- not because I condone his actions (the merits of marijuana as a performance enhancer can be debated another day), or because suddenly I’m fine with his lack of professionalism. Of course, I’m not. But the point remains, I have more respect for Diaz today because he's his own guy, consequences be damned.
And they be damned.
Probably to the tune of a year’s suspension and a 40 percent fine of his purse. That's a lot of money for a guy who long complained about how little money he was making. If the inability to fight, if the steep toll of what could be an $80,000 penalty, if the lessons of the past ... if none of these things matter to Diaz, then so what? Let it be.
He'll eventually fade into the sunset, soon to be remembered as one of the crazy ones; not, unfortunately, one of the great ones. It could have been different, maybe. But if Diaz is comfortable throwing away his best years, forgoing his money-making potential in a trade he was born to ply, what's it worth spending our time getting all righteous about it?
So you and I may miss out on entertaining fights. There will be others to fill the void. Fighters here today and emerging tomorrow have talent and the ability to suppress the urge to toss out insults and expletives to the world. And in the end, those are the ones worth our valuable time.
Please don't feel bad for Nick Diaz. I'm guessing he doesn't want anyone's pity. He's living his life. And that's all that matters. To him.