As many of you know, when I take off my journalist hat I'm a fan just like anybody else, only smarter and better looking. Except for a handful of professional mercenaries like Yahoo's Kevin Iole, writers who came from boxing or other sports beats, almost everyone in the MMA media was a fan first. And as a fan, I've always rolled with Nick Diaz.
From his all out brawls with Robbie Lawler, Diego Sanchez, and Karo Parisyan, to his penchant for cageside tomfoolery, Diaz represents everything that's great about this wacky sport. Nick Diaz is a real life Latino Steve Austin, shooting the middle finger to the world, both metaphorically and quite literally. But his most recent outburst? I'm not down with that. A new interview, with FIGHT Magazine's Danny Acosta, starts out well enough. Who doesn't want to fight the best, in a big money bout to boot?
"I want to fight the best in the world, you know, so if you don't think I'm the best in the world, then bring me the best in the world. I want to fight Georges St. Pierre and I think that he's the best and I think that, you know, if you don't think I'm the best, then let me fight this guy. I think people need to stand up and say something, make this happen, you know."
Then the crazy starts. Diaz, the Strikeforce champion at welterweight, is currently ranked fifth in the USA Today/SBNation definitive fighter rankings. A match with the best in the business certainly shouldn't be out of the question. But Diaz's ranking is artitficially inflated with wins over fighters outside the top 10. The man, who once lost three in a row in the UFC's Octagon, has rebuilt a shattered reputation against the likes of Mushin Corbbrey, Mike Aina, and the once great Frank Shamrock. His biggest win in the weight class was against Marius Zaromskis, a fringe contender who never made the top ten and has since fallen completely out of the top 25. This doesn't seem like a resume worthy of Georges St. Pierre - but don't try telling Diaz that:
Why not, you know? Who’s out there, I mean, C’MON, how do these guys expect to beat me, you know? I mean, like, who you got… who’s out there, you know? I’ve fought everybody, you know. They don’t let me fight Georges, you know, I fought everybody that fought him already pretty much, you know."
"I fought everybody that fought him already."
That's the part that jumps right out. Diaz hasn’t fought Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Matt Hughes, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, Matt Serra, or BJ Penn. A cursory look at his record shows Diaz last fought a common opponent in 2006, a loss to Sean Sherk. Prior to that, he fought and lost to Karo Parisyan in 2004. Both men beat up poor Thomas Denny. And that's it. Those are the three common opponents shared by St. Pierre and Diaz. Was Diaz hallucinating an amazing back and forth between GSP and the mighty Corbbrey? In his dreams does Georges take on the murderer's row of Katsuya Inoue, Scott Smith, and K.J. Noons?
Even if Diaz made the jump to the UFC, he's not a fit opponent for the champion there. Not yet. He'd have to prove his merit in the cage, like everyone else, against another top contender like Fitch or Koscheck. But that's all baseless speculation, as Diaz is a Strikeforce fighter and the chance of him hitting the Octagon is minimal. So, who should Diaz fight next? Sherdog's Jordan Breen has some ideas:
Strikeforce and Showtime will always have a K.J. Noons rubber match in their back pocket. They have Tyron Woodley who they built from the ground up as a title challenger, something they've really never done before. And with the December 4th card coming up in St. Louis, they have recent signing Paul Daley who, should he get by Scott Smith and he likely will, will provide a very explosive and entertaining option for Nick Diaz. We're used to having this kind of post fight narrative and a laundry list of fighters and where they go after a UFC or a WEC event. We don't normally get it with Strikeforce. It's an enormous step in the right direction.
Who would you like to see Diaz in with next? One fighter Breen didn't mention was Mayhem Miller, who has quite a history with Diaz and the whole Cesar Gracie crew. Let your voice be heard.