I once called UFC welterweight star Nick Diaz the greatest man who ever lived. That might have been taking things a little far. After all, Edison, Monet, and Mozart once walked the Earth, creating art and changing the way we all live. But I think it's fair to say that Diaz is a one of a kind fighter, a unique artist in the cage who approaches the fight game with a purity you don't see from anyone else in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Nick Diaz is a violent man. He's angry. Perhaps a little confused. His is a world built on emotion. In Nick Diaz's world, he is the perpetual victim - the aggrieved. When he fights, it's with a blackened heart. Nick Diaz is not part of a sport. He's in a fight, real fight between good and evil. He's the forces of good - everyone else in the world seemingly part of a plot to hold Nick Diaz down.
Even against B.J. Penn, a man Diaz calls a friend, he had to find that dark place. He had to create a narrative that allowed him to mean mug J.D and Regan Penn. To walk past his buddies with a sneer, with a willingness to throw down if need be. For Diaz, it was Penn's abandonment of Ralph Gracie, the instructor who taught him the sport. Diaz, loyal to his own trainer Cesar Gracie, used that split as motivation. It was a hard sell, but he convinced himself well enough to send Penn to the hospital. The fight was spectacular - but Diaz sees it as the exception.
"That's not good for the fans," Diaz explained, telling the assembled media that friends shouldn't meet in the Octagon. "I don't want to see that either. You make two people fight each other who are friends and then they go out there and try to give each other a hug...what the hell is that? Nobody wants to see that. Not where I'm from, they don't want to see that."
Diaz is a man who sees conspiracies everywhere. Did Penn invite him to train together years ago to assemble video tape in case the two ever met? He's not sure. Are his training partners hesitant to give their all because of a lack of compensation? Watch Diaz, even inside the Octagon after the biggest win of his career. As he waits to speak with announcer Joe Rogan, he's clearly looking over his shoulder, first one then the other. The same thing during an interview with Ariel Helwani. If there are secret ninjas in Las Vegas or Stockton, they're never going to get the jump on Nick Diaz.
It should have been a night to remember. He had beaten the legendary B.J. Penn. Nick Diaz didn't see it that way. There was no celebration. At the height of his career, happiness was elusive. Even when UFC President Dana White announced Diaz was being given an immediate title shot, the fighter still felt the world was out to get him.
"See how I have to come off to get a fight? I have to come off like that just to get a fight," Diaz said, a smile never once cracking his face. "I gotta be the bad guy. Point the finger. Make me the bad guy....the only reason I'm getting this fight is because everybody wants to see me take an ass whipping right about now."
Perhaps there's a method to Nick Diaz's madness. It's easy to celebrate a win. It's harder to motivate yourself to greatness. Georges St. Pierre better start training now. Nick Diaz is a step ahead, already gearing himself up for the title fight, finding motivation during the post fight press conference. By Super Bowl weekend he'll have manufactured a story where St. Pierre is a Canadian Pol Pot.
It will be a battle of opposites. Technique versus emotion. Control versus rage. I hope GSP is ready. Nick Diaz will be.