Before Diaz was poached from Strikeforce, he was the big fish in a little pond.
Nick Diaz had long felt under-appreciated in Strikeforce. As Strikeforce's champion, he felt envious of Georges St-Pierre for the millions of dollars he had earned in the UFC and ranted frequently on the subject.
UFC president Dana White heard those rants, and following Diaz's electrifying win over Paul Daley, White told Diaz that his dreams were about to come true. Diaz could have that fame and have that money.
Take every payday he'd ever made and that would pale in comparison to what he'd make by fighting St-Pierre. All he had to do was "play the game just this much" by showing up to press conferences and doing all the PR stuff expected in high-profile fights.
And so the fight was made. Fans everywhere were excited about seeing the smooth and polished Georges St-Pierre pitted against the raw and uncut Nick Diaz.
Two missed press conferences later and Diaz was out of the title fight with his seven-figure pay deal rendered null and void. Apparently, the pressure of the main event was too much for him, according to White. Carlos Condit would get the title shot and Diaz would fight BJ Penn instead.
A million dollars evaporated faster than you can say, "Sorry I missed your beauty pageant."
And then St-Pierre sprained his knee.
In an ironic twist of fate, Diaz found his way back into the main event spotlight for which White said he wasn't ready.
Still, the payday isn't what it would have been had he fought St-Pierre. He'll have to beat Penn to get that opportunity, which is why this fight is so important for Diaz.
Should Diaz win, he'll most likely have secured a title shot along with all the money, fame and promotional backing that comes along with it.
Losing, on the other hand, would be a big blow to his career.
Gone is the cult following that goes along with being a Strikeforce champion "rebelling" against the UFC. Diaz is now just another UFC fighter.
If Diaz loses now, he'll also lose the hype that went along with going undefeated for four years.
More than that, if Diaz loses, people are going to write off his recent successes as being due to favorable matchups and not facing any strong wrestlers, who were like Kryptonite for Diaz in his first UFC run.
In general, it'll be back to the drawing board and back to the end of the long line of contenders in the extremely deep UFC welterweight division.
Getting a title shot then won't mean just getting one victory; It'll mean putting together a string of wins over wrestlers like Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Jake Ellenberger.
It'll be a long, hard road if Diaz loses this weekend.
But then again Diaz has never done things the easy way.
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