Yesterday morning I wondered whether or not Nick Diaz would fall apart under the UFC's bright lights now that he's once again main eventing a major pay-per-view spectacular. By 2 PM Eastern Standard Time, that question was answered, and definitively. Diaz and fellow top of the card performers like B.J. Penn, Cheick Kongo, and Matt Mitrione were all scheduled for a media conference call. Guess which one didn't show up until the call was nearly complete?
When Diaz was first demoted from the main event against Georges St. Pierre last month, I called foul. After all, didn't his absence actually demand attention? Missing two press conferences was amazing stealth marketing, even if it wasn't by design. A press conference is a ho-hum event. A fighter missing a press conference? Because he just wants to fight and is too manly for niceties like civilized conversation? That's a story.
Diaz's opponent B.J. Penn understands. And while the UFC legend wouldn't go so far as to sign off on Diaz's absence, you got the sense that Nick had B.J.'s full support.
"It goes hand in hand. Nick is a great character of the sport," Penn said. "He is who he is. That's Nick Diaz. It's something to talk about. I don't want to say it's good for the sport -- no-showing the press conferences -- but it's 1,000 times more interesting."
When Diaz finally joined the proceedings, business, as they say, picked up.
"I didn't even know that was a call," Diaz said. "No one called me in the last week. Simple as that. I just heard about it 15 minutes ago. My brother came over and woke me up."Diaz proceeded to put his management, the UFC, St. Pierre, and unnamed business associates on blast. Diaz doesn't want to have to worry about conference calls and contracts.
"I've got all these business people and big money people making deals," Diaz said. "Somebody is making 100 grand, or some ridiculous amount, to tell me what I'm supposed to do. You'd think someone would tell me to be at this press conference or I won't make sh*t."
Nick Diaz wants to fight. Period. And when the time comes to enter the cage, no matter how many pressers he misses, he's going to be there to test Penn's vaunted boxing and jiu-jitsu games. His opponent isn't fooled into thinking the drama surrounding Diaz will affect him one iota once the bell rings and the cage door closes.
"He always shows up to fight," Penn said.