This situation with Nick Diaz doesn't sit right with me. And before you respond with bromides and lazy rhetoric, I'll concede up front that what Nick Diaz did this week is not, strictly speaking, professional. He missed two press appearances, both in support of an event that is almost two months and three numbered UFC's away.
No, you likely couldn't miss two days in a row at your job and keep your name off the unemployment roles. But your job isn't "professional cage fighter." The UFC has done a good job trying to convince the masses that its athletes are just like us. Trust me - for the most part, they are not.
Fighters routinely miss appointments and calls that you would expect a regular person to make. These aren't guys who work in your office suite, they don't balance budgets, file TPS reports, or transfer calls to customer service. They face down another man in a steel cage and try to put him to sleep before they get knocked out or clobbered.
And Nick Diaz is the strangest of a strange breed.
Ironically, it's Diaz's take no prisoners attitude that helped him secure a fight with Georges St. Pierre in the first place. Diaz doesn't play by the rules. There's something attractive about that. Sports fans love a bad boy, whether it's Joe Namath, Dennis Rodman, or Terrell Owens. Nick Diaz was our bad boy.
Diaz is the only MMA fighter officially in the Tyson Zone. Miss a press conference? Fight an opponent at the hospital after the bout? Flip off the world? Tell reporters that you smoke weed all the time but can beat the test, no problem? Fail a drug screening for marijuana and have the biggest win of your career erased from your permanent record?
These aren't just things you can imagine Diaz doing. That's his real life resume. It's why fans wanted to see Diaz against Georges St. Pierre. The men are polar opposites. GSP is MMA's first corporate athlete. He says and does the right things without fail. If he was a Nascar driver, he'd always thank the correct sponsors. Diaz is likely to forget all his sponsors in a post fight interview, insult the crowd, and punch an old man in the face. It's part of his charm.
In the end, it seems like Diaz is being punished for simply being Diaz. Instead of using the missed press conference to promote the fight and the narrative of good versus evil, the promotion jumped to replace Diaz with Carlos Condit. Carlos is a great fighter and it's an exciting bout. But it's not Diaz versus GSP - and that's truly a shame.