Donald Cerrone had no idea what he was getting into when he walked up on Nate Diaz at an open workout earlier in the year. "The Cowboy" is as tough as they come - but he's like most other mixed martial artists. Before the cage door closes he's generally affable and easy going, bonding with his fellow athletes. It's safe to say Nate Diaz is coming from a different place mentally.
I'll let Cerrone explain:
Really the only personal interaction I've had with Nate is at the open workouts prior to this fight. I walk over to be like ‘hey man, what's going on,' shake his hand.
He slaps my hand away. Calls me a punk-ass. Walks off.You talk s*** to me, you're just going to enrage me, and piss me off. So feed my f***ing flame. That's how I see it. Let's go.
Cerrone learned what dozens of men have learned before and dozens more will learn going forward. The Diaz brothers (Nate's brother Nick is a UFC main eventer) are not like other fighters. When John McCain coined the term "human cockfighting," the Stockton crew is probably exactly what he envisioned. Wild, uncontrollable, and violent.
The UFC has spent countless hours telling a skeptical press corps that cage fighting isn't what they imagined it to be. That the fighters are not what you'd think - even Chuck Liddell, complete with mohawk and head tattoo, was really just an accountant, no different than Steve in Apartment 5-A or your Uncle Milt.
The Diaz's fly in the face of all that. They're the human embodiment of the pit bull. Our own Luke Thomas has satirically suggested embattled Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mike Vick would be more than a little interested in Nick Diaz. He's the snarling face of anti-establishment violence. If there is an "off" switch, it's not readily apparent.
The best part of the Diaz's brothers act is that it's no act. Scratch that. The best part about their act is that they deliver in the cage. Everything they promise to do in interviews, every hard look they shoot an opponent, their entourage, even family members - they back it up. Win or lose, the Diazes are coming to fight.
And really - isn't that why we love them? If every fighter was like the Diaz brothers, it would get old quickly. But take one or two angry young men, guys with a street fighter's mentality. Insert them in the midst of professional and calm athletes. Then watch the sparks fly. It's a recipe for success, one the UFC should be happy to promote to an audience looking for a vicarious thrill.