MONTREAL — “I’ve never met anyone like Nick Diaz.”
Those were words from UFC president Dana White Thursday, and to be frank I must echo those sentiments.
But that doesn’t have to be taken as a bad thing.
Now, I have spent a lot of time criticizing Diaz in my blogs but one thing I want to be clear about is I don’t consider him a bad guy, which is also what White has said.
He is just a little misunderstood. My problem has always been the way he approached situations, not his opinions themselves.
On Thursday, Diaz was refreshingly open, honest and giving thoughtful answers (well, at least to start).
First off he addressed why he missed Wednesday’s open workouts, saying he arrived late from Stockton, Calif., and needed the rest. It was either going to be the open workouts or the press conference that he’d skip and he chose the former.
For those who say it’s unfair to St-Pierre, who has to do the exact same media duties even though he doesn’t like them either, Diaz made a very good point, telling St-Pierre with a clear sense of frustration, “You live here, Georges.” He’s right, it was unfair to begin with, because St-Pierre is already doing this from the comforts of home, while Diaz not only has to travel, but into unfamiliar and somewhat hostile territory.
Diaz also described how he has felt slighted going way back in his UFC career. He was in the organization first, yet it was St-Pierre who was moved into the title position over him.
Now that he’s finally getting his chance at a UFC championship, he is still feeling like he’s the afterthought, pointing out that the picture of him used on the promotional banner is an old one, but the UFC doesn’t care about how he comes across. These are all reasonable frustrations for any person, and in particular one in a competitive realm like mixed martial arts.
He also makes good points about the current state of MMA, where too much emphasis is put on maneuvers that don’t really do damage but simply hold an opponent down.
But then he takes it a little too far, suggesting that GSP is one of the major benefactors of that “change in MMA climate” and that he didn’t earn his wins.
First he claims that he felt Jake Shields should have gotten the decision over St-Pierre when they met. Same thing for Carlos Condit in November.
Then he even questioned all of St-Pierre’s wins.
“I’ll tell you what bro, I was fighting all the hitters,” Diaz said to St-Pierre. “You ain’t fought no hitters. You take punches and you start quitting.”
While those opinions are just flat-out wrong, if you take a moment to think about where he’s coming from, it still stems from a feeling of inequity in terms of how he’s been promoted.
This isn’t the first time that he’s come across misunderstood. In their epic verbal exchange during last week’s conference call, it was sparked from one little miscommunication — on both sides.
Diaz said St-Pierre should be pampered. That wasn’t meant as an insult at the popular French Canadian, it was just a declaration of what he would do if he were in his situation, which he unfortunately isn’t.
He used the word “motherf—er” simply for emphasis and dramatic effect. But according to St-Pierre’s trainer Firas Zahabi, Georges didn’t realize the term is a figurative one. Instead he took it literally (a bit of a language barrier there) and was naturally upset by the implication.
Meanwhile, when St-Pierre called him an “uneducated fool,” I truly believe he really meant to use the term “ignorant” — as in he felt Diaz wasn’t aware of Georges’ upbringing, and he simply needed to be “educated” on it. But Diaz took that as if GSP was saying he was a person who was lacking in education, which only made it that much more personal for Diaz
Oh, how some things can get lost in translation.
Actually, Zahabi also pointed out that the two are just polar opposite personalities with virtually nothing really in common… except the fact that both are mixed martial artists, and are fighting for the welterweight belt Saturday. And unfortunately Diaz continues to do things in a manner that makes people see him in the bad boy light.
When Johny Hendricks answered the only question directed at anyone but the two headliners, Diaz immediately jumped in to ask Georges, “Why are you so angry?”
Clearly, Diaz was just sitting there and stewing, and was completely oblivious to the world outside his. (At least this time he didn’t outright cut off another guy.)
And about whether he’ll pass the post-fight drug test, Diaz casually said he hopes so.
“I’m sorry if I don’t pass the test but I think it should work out,” Diaz said. That must have filled Dana White with such confidence.
The biggest exchange between the two was when Diaz suggested he was scared of him. But this whole matchup is coming about because Diaz asked for it. So clearly he isn’t ducking anyone.
The celebrated champion vs. the misunderstood challenger. No need for any “wolf tickets,” we just can’t wait for this to be settled in the cage.