Nick Diaz crazy train continues
I’m hearing from media colleagues covering Saturday’s UFC 137 that Nick Diaz is blowing off at least some of the interviews he’s obligated to do to promote his headliner against BJ Penn. You know what that means? A few less awesomely awkward interviews with Diaz, like the one he did yesterday with Ariel Helwani that is as painful as it is mesmerizing, especially in the final minute when Helwani asks if he can come to Stockton to train with the former Strikeforce champ.
Of course, it’s not surprising that Diaz would skip/miss/avoid/forget about an interview or two. It’s not like anybody believed Diaz had smartened up and changed his ways no matter what his coach, Cesar Gracie, says.
But given the way UFC boss Dana White responded last time Diaz went AWOL he’s probably already cut Diaz a check for Fight of the Night. Remember, a couple of months ago Diaz skipped a few reasonably important press obligations to promote his title fight with welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre. White yanked him from the card and replaced him with Carlos Condit, who was slated to face BJ Penn. He then gave the Penn fight to Diaz, which, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t much of a punishment at all considering GSP went down with an injury that put any title fight on hold and elevated Penn vs. Diaz to main event status.
And just last week, Diaz dialed into a UFC media conference call 45 minutes late and claimed he didn’t even know there was a call. It’s all par for the course for Diaz.
I still hate that Diaz is on this card. I hate it even more that he’s now in the main event. When he was pulled from the GSP fight he should’ve had to sit out at least one UFC event, otherwise what kind of punishment is that? Sure, he lost his title shot, but only for the moment.
And yet – and this is what kills me – UFC 137 would be a lousy card without Diaz and Penn to anchor it. Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione certainly aren’t enough to earn my pay-per-view dollars. Neither are Roy Nelson (no matter how much he’s slimmed down) and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. But those guys plus Penn and Diaz? Absolutely (even if it won’t create the same fight night buzz that even the most boring GSP bout does). And Penn vs. Diaz is a great match-up, stylistically, given both fighters’ strengths in boxing and jiu-jitsu. A Diaz victory proves that he really does deserve a title shot regardless of his attitude outside the cage. A Penn victory, well, that opens a few doors for him while closing a few others for Diaz, meaning he’ll probably have a few less press obligations to skip.