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Call me crazy, but I think Nick Diaz secretly outwitted Dana White.
With the announcement today of GSP vs. Nick Diaz being signed for UFC 137, the foul mouthed, trash talking Strikeforce star has entered contractual territory that should be making all other MMA fighters jealous. A direct shot at the UFC welterweight title, a multi-year contract, and the ability to fight in both promotions? Nick Diaz couldn't have gotten a better deal if he wrote the contract himself. And really, Dana White had no other options.
As David Castillo smartly points out over at Head Kick Legend, GSP's lukewarm dominance tends to cause fans to overlook surging talents like Rick Story, Dong Hyun Kim, and Carlos Condit, which is definitely not a good thing:
I think fans fundamentally don't mind squash matches (that's all Fedor did for 2 years at the height of his career and no one seemed to mind), but because he's so conservative, a fight that's a foregone conclusion at least needs to be entertaining, and GSP simply does not entertain to the extent observers feel a P4P great is worthy of. The implications of a potential Story win over Alves were obvious: new blood for opposition to the Canadian throne. Rick Story picked up a great win in a very good fight. Yet no one seemed to care that he just convincingly beat a top 5 WW. Is it because the fight was lackluster (it wasn't), or are fans biased by the probability that he loses to GSP 9 times out of 10 in a tepid five round affair? Are fans and observers not interested in Rick Story? Or is it that they're not interested in Georges St. Pierre?
Georges St. Pierre isn't getting any younger, and despite his natural ability to draw PPV dollars (and Canadian fans), his fights are looking more tepid with each opponent. A series of failed submissions against Dan Hardy, no KO win against a one-eyed Josh Koscheck, and a conservative decision over Jake Shields has just about killed any talk of GSP fighting Anderson Silva. What the UFC needed more than anything was a strong, "Top 10" welterweight that GSP hadn't beaten, and just as important, someone who could force the champion to get aggressive.
Nick Diaz was that person, and somehow, he knew that Dana White would come calling — sooner or later.
So what does Diaz do after winning a barnburner against Paul Daley, just when his stock as an MMA fighter is at its highest? Survey says — take a boxing match with the withered husk of Jeff Lacey. Huh.
Was it going benefit the Diaz brand in the least? Not really. Was it going to make him more money? No, not much more than another title defense. Did a boxing stint make any career sense? Heck no. Does anything Diaz say or do make a lick of sense in the moment? Usually, no. But somehow, his massive winning streak, bull-headed fighting style, paranoid interviews, odd contract negotiations, and outlandish behavior inside (and outside) the ring was the right set of ingredients at the right time that forced Dana White to make a Hail Mary play in the fourth quarter.
Nick Diaz knew his winning streak made him a hot commodity.
Nick Diaz knew he could get a shot at GSP after the UFC/Strikeforce "merger."
Nick Diaz knew Dana White had his eye on him, especially after the Paul Daley fight.
It's hard to fathom, but it's possible that Nick Diaz masterfully capped off an elaborate plan that netted him one of the most open-ended contracts from a promotion notorious for tricky paperwork. He might secretly be a genius. Maybe.
[McKinley Noble is a staff editor at GamePro and an MMA conspiracy theorist. Follow his Twitter account for crazy talk, 1990s movie references, and general weirdness. Or you could just stalk him on Google.]