Will Nick Diaz Box Jeff Lacy or Challenge GSP for the UFC Title?

Jeff Lacy. Is this Nick Diaz' next opponent?

Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz has been extremely vocal with his frustration with MMA and Strikeforce's range of opponents in particular. Ever since his KO win over Paul Daley at Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley, he's been making noise about exercising the option in his SF contract that allows him to take pro-boxing matches.

Various potential opponents have been floated including Fernando Vargas or even Ring World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez. Today Jeff Lacy's camp has issued a press release saying their man has signed the contract to fight Diaz.

From the press release:

A few moments ago, former IBF super-middleweight champion & devastating knockout artist, Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy, officially signed on the dotted line to square off against Diaz in the Fall of 2011.

Don Chargin states, "This is a very dangerous fight for both men. Not only is this fight dangerous but stylistically it is very intriguing. I expected more resistance from fight fans and media in regards to this match-up but its amazing as to the hundreds of calls and e-mails I've received from fans on both sides wanting to see this match-up take place. I've received more than a few inquiries from some other very high-profile boxers that want to step up and fight Nick. Its been a real whirlwind."

Chargin continues, "I've been around boxing for quite some time and I've seen a lot of great, tough fighters in my six decades within the sport. I believe that if Nick had been one of those kids who had picked up boxing from a youth, he'd undoubtedly be a world-champion today. Sometime within the next 2 weeks I'll be personally making the trek to Cesar Gracies gym to setup a private, closed door sparring session between Nick and a few nameless top-level contenders I have in mind."

According to BoxRec, Lacy's (25-4)last fight was in January 2010 -- a loss to palooka Dhafir Smith (24-20-5).

Scott Christ has more on Diaz vs Lacy at Bad Left Hook:

Jeff Lacy is 33 years old and hasn't clearly won a fight since 2005. Since then he's been destroyed by Joe Calzaghe, dominated by a fading Jermain Taylor and a shot Roy Jones Jr., and has gotten past the likes of Peter Manfredo Jr., Vitali Tsypko, Otis Griffin and Epifanio Mendoza by the skin of his teeth. Those are third-rate contenders, and all of them had a solid argument for having deserved the duke over Lacy. He has not looked good in almost six years. Injuries have robbed him of his punching power and athleticism.

If you want to buy into this and believe that Jeff Lacy is still a serious contender, that's nice. I'm glad that you enjoyed using him on video games or whatever. But facts are facts, and to ignore what has been staring people in the face for half a decade-plus is foolish.

I'm not saying there's no reason to be interested in this. Considering that Nick Diaz is a novice boxer at best, this is a perfectly fair matchup for him to delve into professional boxing, if it does indeed actually happen. And I realize that fans of both or either sports are going to inevitably, in some circles, treat this like it truly matters. But this is Nick Diaz trying boxing against a guy whose name value is basically zero at this point, and whose skills in the ring are just plain gone. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's important to note that the release (posted in full after the break) says nothing about Diaz signing the contract. There's also no indication that Diaz and his camp have even agreed to the terms. This could be nothing more than a PR stunt by Lacy and his camp or it could be Lacy signing a contract that Diaz and his camp have already verbally agreed to.

This matters because UFC President Dana White is reportedly headed to Stockton, CA to meet with Diaz and his manager/trainer Cesar Gracie with the intent of talking them out of Diaz boxing.

Gracie spoke to MMA Weekly about his fighter's desire to face UFC champ Georges St. Pierre and the possibility that he'll abandon his boxing ambitions if he gets a shot at GSP:

"The way we had the Strikeforce contract that we signed about a year ago, maybe a little less than that, was that here we're going to pay you this much money per fight. It's not quite the kind of money you probably should be making, but you're going to be able to make it up because you're going to be able to do boxing, and that might be the more lucrative deal. There was pluses involved and one of the benefits or bonuses, whatever you want to call it, was being able to box," Gracie explained.

"Now all of a sudden if that's taken away, we need to re-structure the contract maybe, that's the only thing. I'm thinking that Dana's going to be perceptive to this and Nick also working with that. It's just one of those things we all have to sit down and figure it out."
...
"It'd be great, best case scenario for us would be Nick boxes and then he goes and fights GSP. But again, the person with the answer, the guys that have the answers to all of this and can make everything happen is Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White."

The UFC has a vested interest in Nick Diaz NOT boxing Jeff Lacy. There is nothing good for the promotion in one of their top properties risking his reputation against a boxer whose career is on the wane. The UFC desperately needs a compelling challenger for welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, Diaz is by far the best option on the table.

After GSP's underwhelming performance against Diaz' teammate Jake Shields at UFC 129, the UFC champ's brand may be damaged and a bout with Nick Diaz may be the only cure on the horizon.  See also:

But if he goes out and gets creamed in a boxing match against an old pug like Jeff Lacy, that significantly diminishes the value of a GSP vs Nick Diaz title fight. 

On the other hand, because the Zuffa/UFC business model is utterly dependent on severely stringent contracts, they are almost fetishistic about honoring the contracts they sign. When they purchased Strikeforce they put themselves in a position where they need to honor SF's contracts and do things like allow Diaz to exercise his option to try his hand at pro boxing. 

Will Dana White be able to head off Diaz vs Lacy at the pass? 

Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for updates. 

UPDATE: Mauro Ranallo tweets:

CG @CesarGracieBJJ tells @mauroranallo that @nickdiaz209's bout with @lefthooklacy has been green-litless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

 

UPDATE: MMA Junkie has the latest:

Yet Diaz's representative today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the fighter is willing to forgo a trip to the ring in the event that a fight materializes with welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

"Barring something like (UFC president) Dana White telling us, 'Hey, we really need you to fight GSP at such-and-such a date and it conflicts with [boxing] - barring that, we're going to fight Lacy," said Diaz manager and trainer Cesar Gracie.

Of the possibility of Diaz vacating the bout with Lacy for a fight with St-Pierre, Gracie said he'd informed Chagrin about the contingency and the promoter would "have to be cool with that."

So everything is riding on the Dana White negotiations.

The full release from Lacy's camp:

Jeff Lacy Signs to Fight MMA Champion Nick Diaz

May 6, 2011 - The hottest fighter in the mixed martial arts landscape right now is Stocktons own, Nick Diaz. He is currently riding an 11-fight win streak and has been mentioned as a potential super-fight candidate to face-off against UFC welterweight champion George St. Pierre at the end of 2011.

Due to the structuring of Diaz's contract with MMA outfit, Strikeforce, he is in a unique position where he can contractually pursue a professional boxing career in addition to his mixed-martial arts title reign.

While rumors of opponents such as former champions Fernando Vargas and Roy Jones Jr. have been floated around, neither mans team have yet solidified a contract with the young champion.

A few moments ago, former IBF super-middleweight champion & devastating knockout artist, Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy, officially signed on the dotted line to square off against Diaz in the Fall of 2011.

Lacy possesses the type of dangerous punching power in both hands that can end the double digit win streak of the rugged Northern California champion.

Don Chargin states, "This is a very dangerous fight for both men. Not only is this fight dangerous but stylistically it is very intriguing. I expected more resistance from fight fans and media in regards to this match-up but its amazing as to the hundreds of calls and e-mails I've received from fans on both sides wanting to see this match-up take place. I've received more than a few inquiries from some other very high-profile boxers that want to step up and fight Nick. Its been a real whirlwind."

Chargin continues, "I've been around boxing for quite some time and I've seen a lot of great, tough fighters in my six decades within the sport. I believe that if Nick had been one of those kids who had picked up boxing from a youth, he'd undoubtedly be a world-champion today. Sometime within the next 2 weeks I'll be personally making the trek to Cesar Gracies gym to setup a private, closed door sparring session between Nick and a few nameless top-level contenders I have in mind."

Can Jeff Lacy refocus his career to regain the once promising glory that lingered at his fingertips just a few short years back?

Can Nick Diaz's granite chin withstand the devastating punching power of arguably the hardest punching 168-pound fighter on the planet?

These questions will definitely be answered before the end of 2011 as the fight titled, "Breaking History" is fairly self-explanatory.

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