Dana White’s long-held opinion of Nick Diaz goes something like this: He’s a talented kid, but he won’t be welcome back in the UFC until he learns how to “play the game.” Just before Diaz’s first-round TKO victory over Paul Daley on Saturday, White spoke to Ariel Helwani in more detail about Strikeforce’s anti-social welterweight champion (discussion starts at the 3:24 mark, translation via FightOpinion):
“When I listen to Nick Diaz talk, you know, this kid’s talented, he’s well-rounded, I like his attitude and the way that he carries himself…to a point. He always crosses the line every time he gets out there and talks publicly and…he can be such a big star. This kid could be a big star if he would just calm down a little bit and not so be so angry with everybody. I mean, seriously, who the fuck wants to beat up Ariel Helwani, man? Other than other reporters, who wants to beat up Ariel Helwani? Nick has this talent and he talks about the big money and all the other things. He can make this big money. He can do that. He can be that guy. He could fight GSP. He could have all these opportunities. He’s got to tone it down a little bit, you know, and I don’t think that many people out there would disagree with me and I’m not asking Nick Diaz not to be Nick Diaz. I like Nick Diaz. I like the way he is and it’s part of the appeal of him, you know. But you gotta tone it down just a little bit…if we could get Nick to a point where he doesn’t cross the line and he doesn’t get so crazy all the time, he could be a big star. People like him. And people dislike him, too. That’s not a bad thing.”
To this, we would ask: Tone what down, exactly? It’s been three years since the last time Diaz let weed affect his MMA career, and one year since the last time he participated in an in-cage brawl on national television; he’s actually been on his best behavior for a long damn time. Is a tense interview with Ariel Helwani really evidence that the UFC can’t work with one of the most talented fighters in the world? Can’t we just let Nick be Nick? And then you see Diaz’s post-fight interview with Helwani, and you’re like, “oh, right.” See what we mean after the jump…
Not sure if it’s the euphoria of winning or what, but if you skip ahead to the 0:35 mark, you’ll hear that Nick Diaz has somehow become convinced that he’s been suspended for “whatever happened out there,” and he’s pretty pissed off about it. Ariel has no idea what he’s talking about, and neither does anybody else, to our knowledge. But in Diaz’s mind, something bad happened during/after his fight with Daley, and he’s being punished for it. Diaz has gone full Sheen on us. Instead of being happy with his win, the perpetually upset Stocktonite begins to rant about how Strikeforce sets him up in matches with guys who will knock him out, so they can get rid of him. “You’re going to have to find some other way,” Diaz tells the camera, defiantly.
What? If he’s suggesting that Strikeforce would rather have Evangelista Santos or Marius Zaromskis as their welterweight champion, then he’s straight-up delusional. Diaz’s weird persecution complex definitely doesn’t make him compatible with Dana White — who seems to expect gratitude and loyalty even from those he craps on. But DW may have a point about Diaz and stardom. While fans appreciate that Diaz is nobody’s puppet, it’s hard to promote a guy who’s so emotionally unpredictable, so hostile to media, so uninterested in the requirements of stardom. If you want Georges St. Pierre‘s success, you have to play the game like GSP does. If Diaz has no interest in doing that, then there isn’t much more that the world can do for him.