UFC President Dana White realizes he has to treat Nick Diaz differently than other fighters. Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com
Nick Diaz solidified his place as the MMA counterpart to the NFL's Ricky Williams and MLB's Manny Ramirez. Williams, the pot-smoking holistic healer and yoga instructor, whose social anxiety has seen him give post-game interviews with his helmet on, not to mention leaving and returning to the NFL on more than one occasion. Ramirez became known for his "Manny being Manny" shtick, which ranges anywhere from throwing balls into the stands with less than two outs to wandering into Fenway Park's Green Monster during a pitching change.
Diaz's career is littered with similar tales. He attacked Joe Riggs in a hospital building after UFC 57. The Nevada State Athletic Commission overturned his victory over Takanori Gomi at Pride 33 after testing positive for for THC. After a doctor stopped his bout with K.J. Noons due to facial lacerations, Diaz left the arena immediately, flipping off the crowd and cameras in the process. He engaged in two separate post-fight brawls altercations, the first with Noons and his father, the second as part of a gang attack on Jason Miller in Strikeforce.
The latest addition to Diaz's "legend" took place two weeks ago, when he skipped two separate press conference to hype his UFC 137 title fight against Georges St. Pierre. He lost that title shot to Carlos Condit, but the UFC decided against cutting him, instead inserting him in the co-main event against Condit's original opponent, B.J. Penn.
I believe, and maybe I'm a little goofy, that I have a good rapport with this kid and we can work together.
Here's the thing about Nick Diaz -- he's just a different guy. I'm going to have to handle him different than I do every other guy in the UFC. But that's cool. I can do that. I can figure this out where I can work with Nick and we can make this happen.
I told him, listen, you have to show up. If people ask you questions, don't answer them if you don't want to. But you have to show up.
This is refreshing. In the past, the UFC and Dana White would have no problems tossing a guy like Diaz away, simply because he didn't fit into the UFC mold. And, to be fair, the UFC had every right to cut Diaz for his behavior. It's nice, however, to see that the UFC can step back, take a deep breath, and figure out the optimal course of action instead of making a reactive decision in the heat of the moment.