Even without his presence, Nick Diaz was already stealing the show once Wednesday afternoon's UFC 137 conference call commenced. With the former Strikeforce champion missing-in-action for his very first media responsibility since being re-promoted to the card's main event, the gathered audience eagerly awaited whatever was to come next. Even Diaz's opponent, B.J. Penn, didn't exactly know what to say regarding the absurdity of the situation.
"Nick is Nick," Penn reluctantly explained. "That's what he does. I enjoy watching the stuff that Nick Diaz does. He doesn't change. He's always himself. He always shows up to the fight so I don't think we have to worry.
"I don't want to say it's good for the sport -- a guy not showing up to a press conference -- but it is another character in the sport."
With that statement the ruckus ended, albeit briefly. The three fighters on the line continued to field questions as usual, while UFC President Dana White tweeted out, "I'm hearing UFC dropped the ball on the Nick Diaz no show today!! SUCKS."
However the sentiment would be short lived. Forty-five minutes into the call, as questions were winding down, UFC Director of Communications Dave Sholler broke through with the announcement that Diaz had been located and connected. The floodgate was opened, and Diaz was more than willing to speak his mind.
"I didn't even know about a call," he said. "I woke up, my phone was dead and my brother told me that I was supposed to be on the call. I didn't get any notice. I didn't hear anything about it until about fifteen minutes ago.
"When should I have known about this press conference? Somebody should have gave me a call. I don't know who's talking to who. I didn't hear about it. Just like anything, I don't hear about this (expletive) until way late. I'm not sitting here on my thumbs waiting for a call, I'm waiting for training. I'm training hard, harder than these guys and that's why. That's what takes up all my time, training, becoming the best in the world."
With all the controversy that has surrounded him since leaving Strikeforce, Diaz couldn't help but wear his heart on his sleeve. When asked whether he had any regrets, the former champion vented some pent-up frustration while displaying a degree of candidness uncommon for professional athletes.
"Of course I have regret," he shot back. "I regret I have people who are supposed to take care of stuff. I have a lawyer or whatever, people get paid something like 100 grand -- I don't know -- a ridiculous amount of money.
"I've got all these business people and big money people around me trying to make deals, and I don't know anything about that. All I know is that somebody is getting paid over 100 grand just to tell me what I'm supposed to do and not supposed to do, and I'm thinking for that much money, I could have had somebody standing around telling me, 'Hey, you can't miss this press conference. That voids the whole contract, and then you're out. You ain't gettin' (expletive). You ain't fighting' (expletive). You ain't makin' no money, so you have to be at this thing. It's simple."
"I'm in the gym training hard and I think that's important," Diaz concluded. "It's not like I have all this time to go get into that part either. I've been training. I've had to deal with everybody who I'm fighting, I've had to deal with all that. It's not easy."