I find myself in an odd spot with Nick Diaz. I don't particularly like the guy, but I don't particularly dislike him either. He's done a few things that make me laugh for the wrong reasons, but he's certainly been in some great fights as well. Two of my favorite bouts of all time (when he fought Sanchez and Karo) have him in them, even though he didn't win either of them. He's a fierce competitor, and even though he shouldn't probably ever talk, he's always willing to bring it in the cage. Only issue is that he's completely cleaned out the Welterweight division in Strikeforce, and now wants to go to boxing. It's a sad idea, really.
So, this puts him in an odd position. Say Diaz fights Tyron Woodley, a green wrestler who may just out grapple Diaz for three rounds like Sherk and Diego did. What happens then? Well, Nick's marketability goes down, and he knows that. So, he's essentially using boxing as a way to get a better offer on his contract, or find a way into the UFC and a shot against Georges St-Pierre. Well, I've got five ideas as ways to set that up. Rather, I've got five people whom he could fight as a number one contender match for the UFC Welterweight title before he gets fed to the machine that is GSP. So, let's go through the options.
Option One – B.J. Penn
Holy balls, would this be a fight! Whether you think Penn is past his prime, or simply in a slump, he's one of the fiercest, most violent people to ever compete in MMA. The complete and total maulings of Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, and Diego Sanchez are still watched by psychos and Just Bleed guys on a consistent basis. So, what happens if you put B.J. Penn into a fight against someone who is also a boxer/jiu jitsu guy who is incredibly violent? Well, if you'd like to simulate it, put two male cats that haven't been neutered into a box together. Then, every five minutes, separate them and take a minute to clean them up. That's more or less what to expect. Fifteen minutes of two really scrappy fighters beating the piss and blood out of one another. The end result would be something akin to a murder scene, but you'll have a crowd full of satisfied fight fans.
Option Two – Thiago Alves
Thiago Alves looks like someone who consistently wants to punch people in the head. In fact, the only time I think I've ever seen the guy smile is when he's thinking about punching people in the head, or actually doing it. Not to mention, as of now he's really the most logical number three fighter at Welterweight. Yeah, I know that rankings have Shields at that at the moment, but I don't particularly agree with it. Anywho, Alves would pose a really unique challenge to Diaz, given the fact that he's probably the most technical Muay Thai striker in the division. Not to mention, his takedown defense is so good at this point that it's beyond Nick's ability to get the fight to the mat without pulling guard. They'd have to throw down on the feet, and then we'd see who is the best striker in the division.
Option Three – Josh Koscheck
This option, for better or worse, satiates my curiosity more than anyone else's. However, I think that it makes sense on two levels. The first is that the two of them will have no problem whatsoever in selling the fight. Koscheck is amazing with his trash talk, and I don't know anyone else out there that can infuriate someone or play mind games like Kos. The second reason is due to the fact that there's a minor storyline here that they (the UFC) could build up. In the pre-fight talks before Diaz fought Cyborg, Diaz said some line about Koscheck not being deserving of a title shot (which is bullshit), and if I know Koscheck, he wouldn't take too kindly to those words. Not to mention, this would probably be one of the two biggest litmus tests for where Diaz truly sits in the division. Has he really evolved past where he was during his initial UFC run? It could be interesting.
Option Four – Diego Sanchez
As I mentioned beforehand, Diego's fight with Diaz is one of my all time favorite bouts. Both guys were young, and neither were in their prime yet. The initial staredown was awesome, with Big John shoving Diaz back when he tried to mean mug Diego. It was also one of several bouts that showed that these "reality show kids" (which, ironically, Nick's brother numbers in) can hang with the big boys. Since then, both fighters have gone through highs and lows in their careers, with Nick having more success as of late. Since these two had such a great bout the first time, could they repeat it? It would be interesting to see, considering you could argue that Diaz has grown much more as a fighter since they first met. Either way, it's an intriguing matchup.
Option Five – Jon Fitch
I love the way that the user Forbidden Psychological Technologies describes Jon Fitch.
"Jon Fitch is a 170 lb. litmus test to truly divorce hype and fan fantasy from reality. He's the #2 WW in the world and his style shows in stark detail the difference between the best in the world and the merely excellent. It's frustrating, it's sobering, and it's awesome. Mind-numbingly awesome. "
It's so true, isn't it? Well, who else needs a litmus test more at this point than Nick Diaz. Though beating Paul Daley has cemented what I once thought was a bloated top 10 ranking, the new question mark sitting over his Brillo pad hairdo is whether or not he's either Top 5, or a title contender. Jon Fitch's ability to Fitch anyone not named GSP is something that nobody seems to be capable of avoiding, and I question whether or not Diaz could. Also, if Fitch wins anyway, you can just deny him another title shot.
Reason I wanted to bring this is up that it's food for thought as GSP inevitably destroys Jake Shields tonight. So, enjoy UFC 129, and let's all hope that the biggest upset since GSP fought Serra the first time doesn't happen again.
Renzo > Cesar