Esther Lin for Strikeforce
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.