Nick Diaz's Refusal to Fight Puts His Legacy in Jeopardy

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Nick Diaz's Refusal to Fight Puts His Legacy in Jeopardy
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

It has been approximately eight months since Nick Diaz decided to step away from the sport after being defeated by Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158. After he voiced his decision, he went on to say he might come back for the right fight(s), which seems to translate to big fights and “big money.”

In a recent interview with FightersOnlyMag.com, Diaz laid it out simply.

We could negotiate. I am a pretty big draw. So we would have to negotiate a pretty decent amount of pay and a pretty decent amount from the pay-per-view. I’m talking like three to five dollars [per PPV unit sold] the same as these other important fighters are getting, because I am out there putting on a show.

While there have been rumors that Diaz was offered a fight from Dana White, Diaz is currently representing himself and says he has not been contacted directly by White or anyone empowered to negotiate his return within the Zuffa ranks (h/t FightersOnlyMag.com).

I’ve not had a manager since my last fight. I would like people to know that I was never offered any fight [recently]. I haven’t had a manager, I told Dana that I didn’t want anyone representing me after what happened with my last training camp…

And so it goes for Diaz, one of the most exciting fighters in the game, sitting on his hands via decision and circumstance. What is the most troubling thing is that he is happy to do so.

In the past, I have compared Diaz to Arturo Gatti due to his willingness to engage in toe-to-toe brawls and his dependability for excitement. I felt it was an honest and just comparison because both were truly cut from the same blood-and-guts cloth.

Al Bello/Getty Images
The late Arturo Gatti

But perhaps I was too hasty.

It is odd that there are more similarities between Diaz and Gatti. For instance, in the storied career of Gatti, he really only fought two really big names: Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Diaz, for his part, has really only faced one big name so far: Georges St-Pierre.

The difference between them is that Gatti was always working to get right back up on the horse because he knew that activity is one of the key ingredients of career longevity. Fighters need to stay active in order to stay sharp.

No one expected Diaz to be happy after losing his fight to St-Pierre, but no one expected him to try and strong-arm the sport by saying he was going to retire unless some big fights were put in front of him.

Gatti, for his part, took the De La Hoya fight and the big money that came with it, fought hard, got badly beat up, cried a little bit then got right back out there and started looking for his next fight. The reason for this was because Gatti loved fighting.

Diaz, it seems, is not fighting because he loves it, but because he wants to get paid.

Now, obviously, there is nothing wrong with that. There are many different fighters out there with different motivations, and more than a few great fighters were fighting for money alone.

But Diaz isn’t making money now; he’s spending it, slowly but surely, and he’s growing older and rusty each day that passes.

If Diaz expects that each and every fight he has from now on is going to be a big fight against a big name (men like St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, etc.), then he hasn’t been paying that much attention to the sport he chose to make his living.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

He’s signed to the biggest organization in mixed martial arts, and they use a system, more often than not. Granted, Chael Sonnen has talked his way into one big fight he did not deserve, but since then he’s been fighting whoever is put in front of him.

However, when looking at how Sonnen got into the position to fight Jon Jones, you see that a fair amount of that was based on his fights with Anderson Silva. In short, Sonnen was taking advantage of opportunities while still being active.

Not too long ago, I wrote a piece where I said Diaz is worth the extra money. I still believe that as well—but only for as long as Diaz is active and willing to fight. If he wants to get paid three to five dollars per PPV unit sold, he needs to get back out there and start fighting again.

Honestly, did he really expect the UFC to set him up with back-to-back fights with St-Pierre (again) and maybe Anderson Silva? Diaz lost his last two fights, and odds are he would not defeat St-Pierre in a rematch, just like he probably wouldn’t last three rounds with Silva.

A string of victories is needed before Diaz can be in a position to rightfully request big money for a big fight, especially since big fights don’t happen all the time.

There are men out there, like Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler, that would make for some very exciting fights for Diaz. He might not be getting paid superstar money for those fights, but they are winnable bouts for him that could pave the way to those big fights.

I said before that if the UFC wants to make money, they need to spend some money, and I said they needed to spend that money on Diaz.

But there is another side to that; if Diaz wants to make big money, he needs to spend the time, in the cage, creating the demand. No company likes to give away big money; if you want to get them to loosen their grip on their wallet you need to make it as easy for them as possible.

In the case of Nick Diaz, that is done by fighting the guys like Brown and Lawler and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Fighters are only marketable when they are fighting, with their legacy empowered by action.

Until Diaz decides to throw his hat back into the cage, fans can always re-watch his fight with Takanori Gomi on Youtube, for free.

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