"Like autumn leaves, his sense fell from him. An empty glass of himself, shattered somewhere within. His thoughts like a hundred moths, trapped in a lampshade.
Somewhere within, their wings banging and burning. On through endless nights. Forever awake he lies shaking and starving, praying for someone to turn off the light."
What follows from this verse is one of the meanest riffs Tom Morello ever produced. But the lyrics also feel like they apply to the most "enigmatic" figure in mixed martial arts: the one and only, Nick Diaz. Minus, of course, any sense of meaning, social context, or political direction (however disagreeable you might find that direction).
Still, Nick makes very clear in interview after interview that if there's a constant to Nick's mind it's that his attitude validates the idea that the human brain is a ‘team of rivals', and Nick's brain is in constant rivalry.
I feel this is part of what makes Nick so elusive to us as a personality. We know what it's like to understand the paradox of controlling the impulse to shout an obscenity at someone who means us no harm (an experience typical in the workplace where we occasionally have to stand next to the incompetent). Nick does not.
When I watched Nick's interview at the press scrum with our very own Matt Roth, it's as If even the most simple, and trivial questions demand a full body search. Nick's mind perceives a world where curiosities wear black hats, and inquiries display their own Schutzstaffel insignia.
So what happens when an opponent he respects doesn't fight the way he would like, and he ends up on the wrong end of a close decision in a title fight for a shot at a larger money fight with Georges St. Pierre?
When Diaz exclaims he's "outta of this s**t", and threatens retirement, I believe him. That doesn't mean it'll happen. It doesn't mean he won't change his mind. It doesn't mean Dana White won't throw him more money to keep him knowing he's an elite fighter, and still a draw with the potential for a future match with GSP given that Nick is only 28.
But it does mean that Diaz is sincere with his frustration. And it does mean that if ever there were a figure in MMA to make good on such a wild, dramatic prediction, it would be Diaz. It also means Nick is a big fat sore loser.
I've never been one to romanticize the thesis that mixed martial arts is all about respect, honor, and some cheap more-ploy-than-philosophy idea of "the way of the warrior". To his legion of fans, Nick is certifiably a ‘warrior'. But what kind of warrior treats defeat like a hexagonal conspiracy? What kind of warrior responds to loss like some bubble gummer on her 16th birthday, throwing a hissy fit over the fact that she got a brand new Taucoma instead of a Lexus?
The fight itself failed to live up to its expectations, but I find it downright bizarre that Carlos Condit has received any flack at all. Not that he has, but in the way that he has. I feel stupid for giving very stupid opinions the oxygen of publicity, but why the distinction between fighting and game planning among fans? Condit was more than willing to strike with Diaz. The numbers reveal as much. He just didn't want to strike with Diaz with his back against the cage.
The criticism that Condit fought "smart" instead of simply fighting is utterly hollow. Nick's very specific and calculated method to get Condit against the cage was just as much of a ‘gameplan' as Condit's to stay outside and strike from distance. There's no doubt in my mind that if Nick stood in the center of the octagon, Carlos would have too. But just as Nick didn't fight to his opponent's strength, neither did Condit hence why the fight was so close.
If Nick is angry about the way his opponent fought, then his failure to adapt will be his downfall, and he will have nobody to blame but himself. I suspect the blame will never fall on his shoulders, in his mind. He'll never ask himself why he couldn't have thrown more kicks, or attempted more takedowns. It'll just be his own insular chorus of what Condit didn't let him do inside that lampshade of his.