As wise men, referees and jazz drummers are fond of reminding us, life is all about timing.
Admittedly, we’ve known for years that Nick Diaz doesn’t synchronize his life to anyone else’s watch and that where he’s from, wise guys are more likely to get slapped than get quoted.
We can only guess how he feels about jazz.
(Wild guess: He’s not that into it.)
Still, if the King of the 209 had any sense of timing, you’d think this would be the ideal moment for him to launch his comeback to the UFC.
With longstanding nemesis Georges St-Pierre vacating the welterweight title and the division’s remaining contenders now in a battle royal for the top spot, the door is about as open as it’s ever going to get for Diaz’s return.
In typically contrary fashion however, UFC president Dana White says the fighter isn’t feeling it. And frankly, if Diaz turned his nose up at White’s latest—and best—offer, it’s starting to seem more and more like we’ve seen the last of him in the Octagon.
“I was trying to make Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz, and Nick Diaz turned the fight down tonight, he doesn't want it …," White said on Saturday at the UFC on Fox 9 post-fight news conference. “I thought that he wanted the rematch, but he said, ‘No, I’m not interested.’”
If this account is accurate, think what Diaz—coming off back-to-back losses and out of action since March—is turning down. He’d be inserted into a title eliminator, get the chance to avenge his galling loss to Condit from UFC 143 and perhaps have the opportunity to once more fight for the UFC title by the summer of 2014.
To say no to all that, he must simply have no interest in this sport right now.
That’s fine. Diaz told us months ago he was done with MMA, and if we’re only now starting to believe him, that’s more our problem than his. If he doesn’t want to be a fighter these days, we should treat his decision with the same understanding and respect as we’ve afforded St-Pierre’s choice.
Easier said than accomplished, though, right? Nobody likes to think about a UFC landscape without Diaz. Each time we hear about him turning down another bout it feels as if we inch closer to a dystopian future full of well-mannered fighters who say please and thank you and do everything their publicists tell them.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants that.
If and when Diaz decides he’s ready, there will be a spot for him on the UFC roster. He’s just that popular and weirdly marketable. At the same time, the offers likely won’t get any sweeter than the ones he’s already declined.
White says he’s brought at least two fights to Diaz since the former Strikeforce welterweight champion announced his retirement earlier this year and won’t do it again. The UFC president will no longer be the pursuer, telling Diaz to contact him when he’s ready to return.
In other words, the ball is in Diaz’s court. If you’re waiting for him to hit it back, well, remember what we said in that second paragraph? This is a guy who takes instruction about as well as a grizzly bear.
He’s talked idly about "maybe" returning next May, but he’s also notoriously bad with dates, times and scheduling. Any statement by Diaz that looks as far into the future as next spring should come with a permanent disclaimer: Plans subject to change.
Just to be on the safe side, should fans be mentally preparing themselves for life without him? The popular answer is still no, but the more realistic answer is beginning to seem like yes.
Especially since the moment we all stop wanting him to do it is probably when he’ll decide to return.
Because that’s timing, Diaz-style.