To borrow a line from The Usual Suspects, â€śand just like thatâ€¦heâ€™s gone.â€ť Well, maybe not “he” in this case, but itâ€™s gone, and that it is the rematch between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit.
What seemed like an almost sure thing late Tuesday night has evaporated before our very eyes as, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Nick Diaz has tested positive for “marijuana metabolites.”
Some will claim that the rematch should have never even been discussed in the first place, while others will opine that the rematch should have been booked before Diaz and Condit even walked out of the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, February 4.
The question now moves from should Diaz and Condit fight toward what does the UFC do with Nick Diaz? Heâ€™ll be subject to whatever suspension the Nevada State Athletic Commission deems acceptable, but will there be additional punishment doled out by the UFC?
If it was just this suspension, relating to the failed drug test, I would say, no, he would serve his NSAC time away from the sport and then he would be eligible to come back and step into the Octagon, much like Chael Sonnen did with his recent suspension, but thereâ€™s more to it with Diaz.
Ever since he signed with the UFC heâ€™s been a thorn in the organizationâ€™s side. He cost the promotion countless dollars when he blew off media obligations and forced the UFC to remove him from the UFC 137 main event. He wasnâ€™t cut then; he was instead booked to face BJ Penn in the co-main event a fight that eventually became the main event when Georges St-Pierre was forced to withdraw due to injury.
His actions after that fight, where he called St-Pierre out from the center of the Octagon after his win over Penn, had St-Pierre so incensed that the champion begged White and Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to allow him to fight Diaz. This caused the cancellation of St-Pierreâ€™s scheduled fight against Condit, another fight that never came to fruition due to another St-Pierre injury.
And now we have this, Diaz failing a drug test, the second failed drug test of his MMA career, the first coming after he defeated Takanori Gomi via Gogoplata at Pride 33 back in February 2007. For that positive test, also for marijuana, Diaz was suspended for six months and his victory was changed to a no contest.
There will be howling from both sides on this subject. One side will want to see Diaz released, the other will say past precedent should allow him to stay, and then there is the elephant in the room, FOX. Will FOX have a say in Diazâ€™s fate since it is now the UFCâ€™s network TV partner?
The rematch between Diaz and Condit may have disappeared, but this just the start of things for Nick Diaz.
As far as retirement speeches go, Nick Diazâ€™s at the conclusion of his five-round bout with Carlos Condit left something to be desired.
Diaz, frustrated with how the fight played out, stood in the center of the Octagon and said: â€śI donâ€™t need this sh*t. I pushed this guy backwards. He ran from me the whole fight. He ran this whole fight. I landed the harder shots. He ran the whole time. He kicked me in the leg with little baby leg kicks the whole fight. Thatâ€™s the way they understand to win in here. I donâ€™t want to play this game no more.”
The jury is out on whether or not Diaz will actually hang up the gloves and, to borrow a phrase from Mike Tyson, â€śfade into Bolivian,â€ť but if he does, it will be a huge loss for the sport of mixed martial arts.
Love him or hate himâ€”judging from the crowd noise coming from the Mandalay Bay Events Center at UFC 143, far more people love Diaz than hate himâ€”he will be missed when heâ€™s gone.
Diaz is the person that many long to be. Thereâ€™s no pretense in his words or actions, thereâ€™s no thought of how heâ€™ll look in the press or to his employer nor is their any consideration to the repercussions of his actions. A thought pops in his head and the words come out unfiltered.
How many of us have wished we could do what Nick Diaz does?
Both those that love him and hate him will miss Diazâ€™s off-the-cuff remarks during interviews, but where heâ€™ll truly be missed is inside the Octagon.
The UFC seems to be experiencing a sea change these days, as fighters no longer enter the cage to see who the better fighter is, but instead are competing to decide who the better athlete is.
Some will say this is natural progression, turning MMA into a sport like all other sports, where the win is the most important thing. Others will bemoan the change, saying that as a combat sport, the intent should not be simply to gain a victory, but should be about leaving it all in the cage win or lose.
Both of the above theories have their merit, but as the sport attempts to break into the mainstream, weâ€™ll probably see more and more fighters employing game plans akin to the one Carlos Condit used to defeat Nick Diaz on Saturday.
This is why weâ€™ll all miss Nick Diaz. For all his perceived faults, he was a fighter that had one plan: Win or lose, he was going to leave it in the cage. If you polled fans and fighters, you would find that many would say that a Nick Diaz fight was a canâ€™t-miss fight, that he was never in a boring fight.
As more and more fights start to edge toward technical battles where the win is the most important thing, Diaz was a throwback, a â€śjust scrapâ€ť kind of fighter in a world of automatons just doing what their trainer has game-planned them to do.
Some will say good riddance to Diaz, proclaiming he was overrated and overpaid, a loud-mouth miscreant, an ingrate who refused to play the game. Others will say that Diaz was misunderstood, that his love for fighting and training is what really mattered.
Whichever side you fall on, you may not realize it now, but in time you will pine for the days that a scowling Nick Diaz stalked his opponent inside the cage.
Leading up to UFC 143 many thought that Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit would be a striking battle with two of the most accomplished strikers in the Welterweight division just throwing down and going for it. Things didnâ€™t exactly go that way, instead Carlos Condit used a perfect game plan to counter Nick Diazâ€™s style and take home the interim UFC Welterweight title after the five round battle.
Questions after seeing Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit:
-Did the UFC just see a lot of pay per view buys disappear?Â When the UFC champion openly roots for one fighter to win you have to think that the fans of the sport are also going to want to see that fight.Â That was the case leading up to UFC 143â€™s main event as Georges St. Pierre said he wanted Diaz to win so he could fight him.Â With Condit taking home the victory and the interim title, the UFC may have just seen a possible 1 million buy pay per view card fall by the wayside.
-Will fans be turned off by the Condit vs. St. Pierre bout? Condit did what he had to do to win against Nick Diaz, thereâ€™s no denying that or faulting him for it, his style gained him the interim title, but will his performance tonight drive fans away from a bout against St. Pierre? While itâ€™s true that Condit has not used this style during his UFC career fans may very well remember it because itâ€™s the freshest fight in their minds and may decide that the match between him and St. Pierre will not be an exciting fight.Â Right or wrong when the UFC is asking fans to go into their pockets for a pay per view, the entertainment value will be considered by the consumer.
-Will Nick Diaz stay retired?Â Following the fight Nick Diaz told Joe Rogan, â€śCarlos is a great guy, Iâ€™m happy for him and his family. I think Iâ€™m done with this MMA, itâ€™s been great out here, Iâ€™ve had a good career, you guys pay me way too much, but I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m gonna get enough to keep going in this and itâ€™s been a good time.Â Good job Carlos, youâ€™re the man bro.â€ť When asked if he was really retiring Diaz replied, â€śI donâ€™t need this sâ€”t.â€ť Whether that was a frustrated fighter talking or words from the heart, weâ€™ll have to see.
Questions Following UFC 143:
-Did Renan Barao do enough to warrant a title shot? My knee jerk reaction is no he did not, but a glance at the Bantamweight ranks changes my tune, but only if Dominick Cruz defeats Urijah Faber at the conclusion of the upcoming season of â€śThe Ultimate Fighter.â€ť Letâ€™s face it, Cruz has already defeated most of the top contenders and the UFC needs some fresh blood to attempt to unseat him.
-How high is Dustin Poirierâ€™s upside?Â Not too long ago Dustin Poirier was a fighter thrown in at the last minute to give a top contender, Josh Grispi, an easy win while he waited for Jose Aldo to heal up. Poirier took that opportunity and made the best of it, dominating Grispi. Poirier has now gone 4-0 in the UFC and he has looked better in each fight. Heâ€™s quickly climbing the rankings and may be next in line for a shot at Jose Aldo, but he may also need one more fight against a top level Featherweight before getting that shot. Perhaps match him up against Chad Mendes next and with a win let him have a shot at Aldo.
-Is Stephen Thompson ready for top level competition? Thompson entered UFC 143 riding on a sea of hype and his â€śKnockout of the Nightâ€ť performance did little to calm that, but one win does not make â€śthe next big thing.â€ť Thompson looked good against Dan Stittgen, but Stittgen was also making his UFC debut in this fight and is not exactly at the top of the UFC heap. Thompsonâ€™s young, letâ€™s give him some time to develop at his own pace before calling him the next anything.
The UFC will head to Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend for its Super Bowl weekend event. The fight card, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 4, will be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center and feature a bout between former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit. The winner of the contest will be crowned interim UFC welterweight champion.
The interim title became necessary when current champion Georges St-Pierre injured his knee while training for his bout against Nick Diaz, a fight that was originally scheduled for this card. The injury required St-Pierre to undergo surgery, and since his last defense of the title had been a five-round unanimous decision victory over Jake Shields on April 30, 2011, it was decided that an interim champion would be in the best interest of the promotion.
Diaz is currently in the midst of an 11-fight winning streak, with his last victory being the dismantling of former UFC champion BJ Penn at UFC 137. The loss, a three-round unanimous decision, was so disheartening to the bruised and bloodied Penn that he effectively announced his retirement in the cage, telling Joe Rogan, â€śJoe, this is probably the last time you see me in here. I want to perform at the top level.â€¦I’ve got a daughter. I’ve got another daughter on the way. I don’t want to go home looking like this.”
Conditâ€™s recent record rivals that of his opponent, as he has gone 12-1 in his last 13 fights, with his sole loss being a split decision to Martin Kampmann in April of 2009. The loss was Conditâ€™s UFC debut bout.
Condit is currently on a three-fight KO streak, with his two most recent stoppages, against Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim, earning him â€śKnockout of the Nightâ€ť bonuses. He also has a â€śFight of the Nightâ€ť bonus to his name since joining the UFC.
The co-main event on the card will feature Fabricio Werdum returning to the UFC for the first time since a knockout loss to current UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 90. Werdumâ€™s opponent on Saturday will be Roy Nelson, who earned a TKO victory over Mirko â€śCro Copâ€ť Filipovic in his last fight.
Main Card Odds:
Nick Diaz (-200) favorite over Carlos Condit (+160)
Fabricio Werdum (-150) favorite over Roy Nelson (+120)
Josh Koscheck (-245) favorite over Mike Pierce (+195)
Renan Barao (-240) favorite over Scott Jorgensen (+190)
Ed Herman (-300) favorite over Clifford Starks (+240)
Preliminary Card Odds:
Dustin Poirier (-450) favorite over Max Holloway (+300)
Matt Riddle (-345) favorite over Henry Martinez (+275)
Edwin Figueroa (-150) favorite over Alex Caceres (+120)
Matt Brown (-310) favorite over Chris Cope (+250)
Stephen Thompson (-260) favorite over Dan Stittgen (+210)
Rafael Natal (-215) favorite over Michael Kuiper (+175)
In the days leading up to UFC on FOX 2 the level of trash talk between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis became elevated, Chael Sonnenâ€™s self promotion reached new levels, Michael Bisping was, well, Michael Bisping and Demian Maia and Chris Weidman lurked in the background. By the time the three main card fights had come to an end it felt like the hype had been much more interesting than the fights themselves.
Rashad Evans did deliver what he said he would in the days leading up to the fight, he showed that his MMA wrestling was superior to that of Phil Davis, but he did so in a defensive manner, letting Davis come to him and countering. Yes, it got Evans the win and in the end thatâ€™s the name of the game, but the performance was a bit of a letdown as this was not the Rashad Evans we have come to expect.
Questions after seeing Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis:
-How will the Rashad Evans of tonight fare against Jon Jones?Â Jon Jones will have more of a height and reach advantage over Rashad Evans than Phil Davis did and he wonâ€™t be as tentative and unsure of his striking as Davis was. Jones will be confident and will come after Evans from odd angles and with many more weapons that Davis did tonight. If Evans attempts to use the same style used on Saturday night, itâ€™s very doubtful that he will have the same amount of success.
-What does Phil Davis have to work on? Phil Davis is a very good fighter, not great. Heâ€™s young and developing and has holes in his game. His leg kicks are pretty good, but his punches need work as does his MMA wrestling. He needs to use to take his solid collegiate wrestling base and adapt it to the cage. Against lesser opponents heâ€™ll do fine with the skills he has, but the elite and experienced fighters are much more well rounded and will negate his advantages, much in the way that Rashad Evans did tonight. Davis should not look at this fight as a lost opportunity, instead he should use it as a learning experience, something to use to improve.
Questions Following UFC on FOX 2:
-What did the casual fan think of the fights? The hardcore fight fan may have walked away thinking the three main card fights lacked the excitement of some of the preliminary card fights. Itâ€™s easy to imagine a newer viewer, perhaps tuning in for the first time thinking, â€śwhatâ€™s the big deal?â€ťÂ Hopefully the casual viewer will give the sport we all know and love another shot.
-Was Michael Bisping that good or was Chael Sonnen that bad? The odds said that Michael Bisping had little chance in this fight, but he did give Sonnen a bit of a struggle. Itâ€™s hard to imagine the Chael Sonnen that fought tonight giving Anderson Silva any problems in their rematch, he just did not look like the same fighter we saw in his past two fights.
-Does Demian Maia have to go back to his strength? As of late there has been a great deal of praise for the growth of Demian Maiaâ€™s striking skills, but at what cost? Tonight it seemed as if he was solely focused on establishing himself as a striker, totally forgetting that he has one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu bases in the middleweight division. Why he didnâ€™t utilize his biggest weapon against Chris Weidman is something to ponder.