Nick Diaz went MIA for the UFC 137 press conference in Toronto. Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com
In today's combat sports culture, it's simply not good enough to be a great fighter. You need to show personality, let fans behind the curtain of what it's like to be you and generally give off the impression that you care -- regardless of whether people like you or not.
Nick Diaz isn't just a good fighter. He's a great one that has gone on a career-making run since leaving the UFC nearly five years ago -- one that got him re-signed when his Strikeforce contract was up. The 28-year-old has put himself in a position to face one of the best fighters in the world at October's UFC 137 in the form of Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre.
So why doesn't he act like he cares?
On Tuesday, the recently-vacated Strikeforce 170-pound titleholder no-showed a media event in Toronto, Canada, leaving St. Pierre to promote the title fight himself. There was no reason given for his absence, but no one seemed surprised.
St. Pierre wasn't thrilled, saying it was unfair for him to take time off training to travel for the event while Diaz apparently decided not to. Diaz' manager Cesar Gracie told MMA Junkie that "old habits die hard".
UFC President Dana White replied to a fan's tweet with 'Yup' when asked if Diaz wasn't playing the game with the no-show.
"Playing the game" is a reference to comments White made at the UFC 133 post-fight press conference about Diaz when it comes to fight promotion and some of the outside the cage marketing that can help grow a fighter's career -- things he doesn't seem to have a desire to do.
That's why Wednesday is an important day for Diaz.
St. Pierre, Diaz and White are scheduled for the official UFC 137 pre-event press conference in Las Vegas where the expectation is....well...playing the game and promoting the fight. Instead of talking about two champions going head-to-head, many are simply wondering if Diaz will actually be there.
Think about that statement for a second. There is a question about whether the No. 1 challenger to the UFC Welterweight title is going to make a press appearance to help promote a UFC pay-per-view main event, an event that could make him a huge star.
Gracie insisted to MMA Junkie that he'll be there, but why are we still at this point with such a talented guy?
If there, Diaz will be asked about his no-show Tuesday. He'll be asked about training. He'll be asked all about his opponent, competing against wrestlers and things that he probably doesn't want to answer. That's all part of playing the game.
If you want to compete at the highest level of MMA and be a UFC champion, you have to do a lot of things you probably aren't thrilled about. That's part of the process of getting people to plunk down cash to say "I want to watch that guy fight" or tune in to see you on Fox.
A 10-fight win streak and a champion vs. champion match should be enough, but to the casual fan and mainstream media the UFC wants to attract, it's not. Wednesday will show us all whether Nick Diaz is interested in playing his part and making people believe he will beat GSP.
It's not good enough to show up, but here's to hoping Diaz actually can make people believe it's worth his time to do so.
You can watch the presser live on MMA Nation starting at 4 PM EST/1 PM PST.