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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Nick Diaz might still get chance

By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com

DENVER -- In an unofficial yet fairly clear manner, UFC president Dana White said Wednesday that Nick Diaz's recent actions will not prevent him from appearing in a future main event.

Earlier this month, Diaz was pulled from the UFC 137 main event against Georges St. Pierre after refusing to attend back-to-back news conferences in Toronto and Las Vegas.

The former Strikeforce welterweight champion was subsequently booked to a co-main event fight against B.J. Penn on the Oct. 29 card. Many have wondered if Diaz would get a second chance at the UFC title even if he defeats Penn convincingly.

White, who spoke with Diaz on the phone for "an hour" earlier this week, said that possibility does still exist.

"I believe, and maybe I'm a little goofy, that I have a good rapport with this kid and we can work together," White said.

"Here's the thing about Nick Diaz -- he's just a different guy. I'm going to have to handle him different than I do every other guy in the UFC. But that's cool. I can do that. I can figure this out where I can work with Nick and we can make this happen."

Although White said he'd treat Diaz differently, he did make it clear that did not include excusing him from pre-fight obligations.

In reference to missing news conferences, White said he told Diaz he could sit behind a microphone and not utter a single word. But he has to be there.

"I told him, listen, you have to show up," White said. "If people ask you questions, don't answer them if you don't want to. But you have to show up."

Diaz (25-7) apparently made headway this week when he managed to show up for a scheduled filming for the "UFC Countdown" show -- a preview telecast that airs on Spike TV.

Despite initial reports that Diaz was canceling on the show, the fact he eventually made it suggests to White there is hope. In a way, not only does Diaz have to beat Penn next month to earn a title shot, he's also auditioning in the way he responds to out-of-cage responsibilities.

"The kid wanted a fight, but he didn't like all the things that go along with fighting in the main event," White said. "So, we said, 'OK. We'll put you in the co-main and ease you into this.' "

White went on to say the UFC never strongly considered severing ties with Diaz completely, but isn't necessarily treating him softly, either. If there's a repeat offense, things will get ugly.

"It's very clear why he missed (the news conferences)," White said. "He didn't want to go. He's fought in smaller organizations where the inmates run the asylum. When you come over here, it's a whole other ballgame. You don't run the show. I do."

Brett Okamoto covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com