If you've read much of my work at all over the past few years, you should know one thing. To me, Nick Diaz is a bona fide American hero, a working class icon and one of the most exciting fighters in UFC history. Nick Diaz is a great man. A man who is bad at keeping appointments, or his temper, but a great man nevertheless.
But that doesn't affect what I'm about to say. I'd make this same case for Jake Ellenberger, Tim Sylvia or some other useless bag of wind who doesn't provide me a single lick of entertainment.
Diaz got screwed yesterday by the Nevada Athletic Commission, suspended for a year for the ridiculous crime of smoking marijuana.
In a hearing that seemed to last hours (just checked, it actually did last hours; glad it wasn't just me), the commission managed to psychoanalyze Diaz, get him to reminisce about his first weed experience and admit that he didn't stop smoking weed after he was last busted for it in Las Vegas.
That time, if you recall, was immediately after his amazing fight with Takanori Gomi. This time, he tested positive after a thrilling five-round decision loss to Carlos Condit. If that's what weed does to a fighter, not only should it be legal, it should be mandatory. Recycled through the Vegas casinos to make our Saturday fight nights just a little more exciting.
While the State of Nevada inadvertently conducted a pretty great interview with Diaz, what it failed to do, absolutely, was establish why or how marijuana was either a danger or a competitive edge. Heck, they couldn't even establish that he was using the substance on the night of the fight or even any time that week. Two questions popped through my head over and over again: "Who cares?" and "What is the point of all this?"
Look, we all know that the prescription drug companies and booze distilleries are in a desperate battle to keep marijuana illegal in these United States. We know that the citizens of California saw through this obvious self interest and fraud, rejecting the criminalization of this valuable drug in the starkest terms. And we know, even Diaz haters know deep down, that smoking weed isn't something that matters one way or another come fight night.
When Nick Diaz smokes marijuana, he does so legally. It offers him no advantages. It doesn't affect either combatants' health or welfare. So what is the state's interest in meddling here? Why is Nevada testing fighters for marijuana? Who benefits from this sham, besides the state which gets to reach into Diaz's pocket and rip free 30 percent of the purse he put his body on the line to earn?
These are the questions I'd be asking right now if I were a Nevada tax payer. I'm all for protecting fighters' safety and keeping the playing field relatively level. I understand and embrace the Athletic Commission and its important role in making sure athletes survive these contests relatively unscathed. But persecuting pot smokers is not within this mission. It's a farce.
Free Nick Diaz. It's the right thing to do.