Well, the old Nick Diaz is back. Good thing, too—we were all getting worried when this guy showed up at the first event presser.
After his UFC 158 media call, though, it's clear that the bad boy from Stockton is in full fight mode and is looking forward to getting in the Octagon for his shot at the welterweight title.
Except, looking at it, there's a lot wrong with that sentence.
He doesn't seem to be looking forward to it at all, especially considering he spent the past five years pining for this fight. He's a lot more interested in his image, in fact.
And he definitely isn't the bad boy he once was.
Now, sure, there were plenty of expletives and garbled arguments from Diaz on the call. But they weren't coming from the same place that the camera-shoving, bird-flipping, opponent-slapping Diaz of yore once did.
They were coming from a place of frustration. And they were justified.
Diaz essentially railed on the UFC for promoting him as the bad guy, when he really only called out the champion with a little more fervour than the average welterweight does.
Saying "Where you at Georges? Where you at, motherf***er?" in the cage after demolishing a legend is a bit more of an attention getter than what you'll get from say, good ole boy Johny Hendricks and his good ole Oklahoma enthusiasm.
A negative attention getter but an attention getter nonetheless. And attention gets guys big fights.
He railed on Georges St-Pierre too, mad that the champion allowed UFC president Dana White to claim him as the most disrespectful man on the roster, an apparent retread of a private conversation he had with his welterweight king.
Plus the whole idea that St-Pierre has said a few times that Diaz is deserving of a "beatdown" particularly rubbed the challenger the wrong way.
Add the fact that St-Pierre is pampered, at least in the eyes of Diaz, because he has endorsements and people running his Twitter for him.
But you know what? Diaz is, in an odd way, kind of right. He's probably right for the wrong reasons, but he's right nonetheless.
Is Nick Diaz really the "bad guy"?
In actuality, he's been the picture of respect for St-Pierre leading up to their meeting. He's been complimentary of the champion (outside of his tendency to play it safe at times, which others beyond Diaz have criticized) and essentially stuck to his guns on simply wanting what GSP has: a place atop the 170-pound mountain.
Yes, he's said that he'd take big fights against the likes of Anderson Silva, but never really said that St-Pierre was afraid of it himself. That's the only other thing that could even kind of be seen as a verbal slight from Diaz.
The only times we've seen him come unhinged are when he's prodded by the media a little, like on the conference call or with the cameras in his face to film UFC Countdown. Everything else has been hearsay or history.
Bad boy Diaz costing the company money in missed tapings?
Hearsay from Dana White, and while he has little reason to make it up, no one can really confirm facts one way or the other.
Bad boy Diaz the foil to St-Pierre's white knight?
History, in the sense that he hasn't said or done much controversial in about a year and certainly hasn't been going around looking for trouble as he promotes UFC 158.
The biggest issue Nick Diaz has is his capacity to articulate his thoughts, not the thoughts themselves. In a lot of ways, if one weeds through the street talk and locker-room language, he makes sense.
He has been portrayed as a bad guy despite obviously working to be less of one in his interviews before Thursday's media conference call.
He hasn't done anything particularly crazy in the buildup to this fight before Thursday.
He believes if he were making more money or afforded more opportunities when he was younger in the game, he'd be further ahead now. Maybe he's right—that's kind of how life works in general.
He hates MMA judging, that wrestling trumps all and that points are scored for power over technique. Who doesn't?
He doesn't hate Georges St-Pierre or even begrudge him his successes, but he wants to be the best welterweight in the world. Doesn't every welterweight?
He thought the best way to do that was to call out the champion, which he did the only way he knows how, and he got the fight he wanted. Isn't that how guys get about 80 percent of the fights they do in the UFC?
So what's wrong with all of that?
Honestly, probably not that much. If it were anyone other than Diaz, he would be just another guy who called out the champion because he thought he was due and got the fight.
But because it is Diaz, and you need a Diaz-to-English dictionary to decipher the message, it gets lost. He's this "crazy motherf***er" (his words) who people think deserves to catch the beating of his life because nice guy GSP says it on some promos.
The reality is that he doesn't, at least no more than anyone else who challenges the best welterweight of all time to a fight in his prime.
Even though no one wants to hear it, Nick Diaz is a lot more right than most of us would like to admit.