“There are eight sides to every story.” Featured prominently in the promotion for Jon Jones versus Vladimir Matyushenko, the admittedly cheesy line emphasizes the narratives inherent in every fight. In the lead-up for Diaz versus Condit, the narrative foretold an epic war between two men who were more than mixed martial artists. They were fighters - a dying breed who lived and died by the sword.
The fight told a different story. For 25 minutes, Carlos Condit landed punches and kicks as he circled and circled around the octagon, away from Nick Diaz’s soul-crushing combos against the fence. Condit refused to get suckered into a wild brawl in the pocket that spelled utter annihilation for BJ Penn, Paul Daley, and other great strikers before him. Instead, he circled away from Diaz’s most frightening weapon, ignored the taunts that lured his teammate Donald Cerrone into a doomed firefight with Diaz’s younger brother Nate, and followed his gameplan to a T.
On the other side, for 25 minutes, while Condit was landing his punches and kicks and was circling and circling around the octagon, Nick Diaz kept walking his opponent down, hoping to land his soul-crushing combos against the fence. Diaz refused to change his desire to turn the fight into a wild brawl in the pocket that spelled utter annihilation for BJ Penn, Paul Daley, and other great strikers from his past. Instead, he trudged forward. He was suckered into a losing game of cat and mouse where his most frightening weapon was useless and the taunts that lured so many fighters into a Diaz-style beating fell on deaf ears. Diaz failed to adapt. Or so the story goes.
"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."
Taken from David Castillo’s “Nick Diaz and His Rage Irrespective of the Machine,” Castillo told the prevalent narrative: Condit won using a superior gameplan. Diaz lost because he refused to adapt and change his methods. There’s a common axiom that history is written by the victors. Naturally, following Condit surprising win, narratives have emerged praising what Condit did right and what Diaz did wrong. But what if Diaz thought he was winning? Why would he change his approach if he thought it was successful?
For 15 minutes, Nick Diaz stalked Condit, pressing forward, leaving Condit with two options – fall at the hands of Diaz’s soul-crushing combos or retreat. Choosing the latter, Condit landed punches and kicks as he circled away. But Diaz waded through Condit’s ineffectual punches and his baby leg kicks and responded with head-snapping strikes. Condit refused to partake in a wild brawl in the pocket that spelled utter annihilation for BJ Penn, Paul Daley, and other great strikers before him. Instead, he avoided Diaz’s most frightening weapon at all costs and was afraid to capitalize when Diaz through his hands out and taunted Condit for his “baby leg kicks” and his impotent “spinning shit.” But in round 4 the tides changed. Condit landed more and more. Unable to replicate his earlier success with his head-snapping strikes, Diaz tried to wrestle the fight to the ground on two separate occasions, but Condit easily defended and won the round. Diaz returned to his corner where his brother Nate reassured him, “you’re up 3 to 1,” but Diaz could see he was losing the striking battle and dragged the fight to the ground. Diaz quickly worked and secured back mount and the 5th and final round ended with Diaz in the most threatening position of the entire fight.
“There are eight sides to every story,” but when the dust cleared Carlos Condit was declared victorious and one story emerged above all others. However, as seen from Dallas Winston’s research post, one fight can have many different interpretations. And the fighters themselves have their own interpretations. Diaz, like many viewers, thought he won the first 2 or 3 rounds because he landed the harder strikes and pressed forward and the 5th because he adapted to Condit’s increasing striking output with a ground attack. And if Diaz won the decision, perhaps we would be hearing different stories popularize about Diaz as a smart fighter who secured victory by taking the fight to the ground when he started clearly losing the striking battle or Condit as the fighter who should have turned up his aggression. Regardless of the outcome, alternative narratives are obscured and a dominant narrative is validated as “truth,” but in thinking about fights we should be conscious of each side of a story and remember that there are truths beyond what is written by victors.