Nick Diaz has reached an impasse in his career, and it could take an act of divine intervention to overcome it.
After losing to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158, the former Strikeforce welterweight champ once again announced his retirement from MMA.
It's difficult to acknowledge Diaz's early retirement plan as anything more than another knee-jerk reaction to losing. There is a good chance he'll be back competing in the Octagon sooner rather than later.
The more important questions should be structured around his return. Will he continue to act out in the UFC by failing tests and missing scheduled events? Should fans expect a retirement speech every time a fight doesn't go his way?
In life, it's ludicrous to do the same things over and over again and expect different results.
Diaz has been marching to the beat of the same drum his entire career. If he doesn't make big changes, he will be stuck in an unending circle of disappointment.
Cesar Gracie, Diaz's manager and head coach, has been somewhat of a father figure to the troubled star. He has been there every step of the way watching a talented kid grow up to become a man and one of the best fighters in the world.
There is always a sense of loyalty and commitment involved when a fighter has been with someone as long as Diaz has been with Gracie. Change is never easy, but it is sometimes necessary to shake things up in order to evolve as both a person and fighter.
At the post-fight press conference for UFC 139, Diaz admitted that he would rather be a beloved role model like St-Pierre than an abhorred villain:
I don't have anything against Georges St-Pierre. I think he's a great fighter. I think he's a nice guy just like everybody else, and he's a great role model. I would love to be that too if I was in that position. I just, unfortunately, haven't had the opportunity and the right people behind me to push me to be that type of fighter or that type of role model.
As with any sport, every athlete is unique physically and psychologically. A coach's job is to find a way to break through to each individual athlete on both levels.
Some people never have to be told what to do. They show up on time and typically say and do all the right things. Others need to be pushed in the right direction and given a little extra attention.
Diaz needs a manager who is willing to go the extra mile to overhaul his entire image as a fighter. He needs someone who is going to push him to show up to every scheduled event. This person could also teach him the etiquette behind saying and doing the right things to facilitate career growth.
A change of direction could also benefit Diaz in the cage as well. It would be nice to see him move around to different camps and look to improve other aspects in his fight game.
Against St-Pierre, he showed flashes of solid wrestling by thwarting several takedowns from the best wrestler in all of MMA. It would be interesting to see the improvements he could make with a strong wrestling game thrown into his already extensive arsenal of world class skills.
Even UFC president Dana White has his doubts about Gracie being the best fit as Diaz's manager. During the UFC 158 post-fight presser (via MMAFighting.com), White ripped into Gracie by calling him a "dick" and a "huge part of the problem" behind Diaz's issues in the UFC.
It truly is amazing Gracie has held up for this long with managing Diaz's career and coaching an entire stable of other fighters. Perhaps he is spreading himself too thin and not giving Diaz the much-needed attention.
On Tuesday, MMA journalist Ariel Helwani announced on UFC Tonight that Nate Diaz, Nick's younger brother, had decided to part ways from Gracie in favor of new management.
Has the time finally come for big brother to follow in little brother's footsteps?
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, even Gracie admitted it could be time to move in a different direction:
I'm going to have a discussion, especially with Nick. I need to make sure we're on the same page with everything. Sometimes, the stress of doing something is a little bit crazy, and I do the best I can but it's kind of stressful. Then I have to ask, It this worth it to even do this? Maybe if there was somebody who could do this job that Nick or Nate -- if they wanted to go -- that they could really trust, that might be a good thing. But again, that's a personal thing between us.
A coach willing to let go of his prized pupil may be the sort of divine intervention Diaz has been looking for.