UFC on FOX 5: Nate Diaz Will Not Get in the Head of Benson Henderson

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterAugust 22, 2012

NEW YORK - MARCH 06:   UFC lightweight Nate Diaz speaks at a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012 in New York City.  UFC announced that their third event on the FOX network will take place on Saturday, May 5 from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
Michael Nagle/Getty Images

The Diaz brothers are the most misunderstood and wrongly-classified fighters in all of mixed martial arts. 

Older brother Nick is likely the one who will shoulder the blame for most of the reputation they carry. He's brash, headstrong and tends to do things that we, as seemingly regular people, just cannot seem to mentally grasp. Normal people don't usually film crazy, nonsensical solo videos or bring a heavy case of the awkward to a typical post-fight interview. And it goes without saying that normal folks, well, they just don't decide it's a good idea to no-show a pre-fight press conference and cost yourself the biggest opportunity of your fighting life.

That's Nick. You never know what he'll do or say, and you love him for it even when he continually shoots himself in the foot. Nick Diaz definitely pilots his own special version of a crazy train, and there are plenty of you along for the ride. 

But Nate Diaz is different. I think a lot of the negative feelings that people have towards Nick are usually applied to Nate, but the shoe doesn't fit. Sure, Nate's had his share of aggressive moments and middle fingers, but almost all of them have either come in the heat of the moment—in the middle of a fight—or in the buildup to the fight itself.

We've already had plenty of talk about Diaz attempting to get into the head of his next opponent, Benson Henderson, whom Diaz faces for the UFC lightweight championship in December. Henderson himself is under the impression that Diaz enjoys playing mind games.

"I know he likes to go into his fights getting guys worked up in the head a little bit and stuff, so you know, his camp, everyone involved in that 209 stuff, you know, God bless ‘em," Henderson said during the UFC 150 post-fight press conference. "My hat's off to him, he's a tough fighter."

Here's the thing about Nate Diaz: He's a refreshingly respectful young man when he's not in the cage. I've had numerous dealings with both Diaz brothers through the years, and Nate never fails to make me feel incredibly old by answering all of my questions with a polite "yes sir" or "no sir". Things get a bit more intense when he nears fight time, and even more so when he feels like his opponent is trying to disrespect him or play games of any kind.

But for the most part, Diaz is simply a nice dude who loves martial arts, loves to fight and loves his big brother. Both brothers are driven by a desire to be the best in their profession. It's a trait they developed growing up when it seemed like they'd never amount to anything or have anything nice at all, and they proved to the world that they could be something.

For Nate, being the best in the world is all that matters. He's not trying to get into your head, because getting into your head requires playing games. Diaz hates playing games. Just lace up his hands and line someone up across the cage, and he'll be happy and content. His next opponent is the best lightweight in the world, and that's enough to drive him forward.

"It's definitely gonna be a good, hard fight. Now it's time to fight for a title, and I'm gonna do what I can to win that belt… I'm trying to do it for my team," Diaz said in a recent interview. "[Expletive] the belt, I'm trying to beat the number one guy in the world and that's him right now."