It is no secret that Nick Diaz basically kept the Strikeforce brand afloat through the last three years of his career. An exciting volume puncher who brings a unique style, always takes big shots, often gets in to trouble, but finishes the vast majority of his fights. These are all highly desirable qualities in a fighter; consistency and excitement being the greatest marketable assets in a fighter - there's a reason Chuck Liddell was the biggest star in MMA during his 3 year, knockout filled winning streak. What many fans do not realize is the efforts which matchmakers go to to make stars like Diaz a reality for their promotion. Despite the welterweight division being filled to the brim with takedown artists, Nick Diaz has still not fought a decent wrestler in the last half a decade.
The Role of a Match Maker
What many fans fail to understand is that there is a reason match makers such as Joe Silva make such huge amounts of money. A matchmaker's job is to either:
1) Put on a barnburning fight
2) Sell a fighter as a superstar
In every event you will see the staple brawlers tend to the first order of business such as Chris Lytle and Chris Leben, fighters who are unlikely to get a title shot on their ability but that a matchmaker can rely on to put on an exciting fight win, lose or draw. Exciting brawlers can often stay in the major leagues of MMA despite a losing record if they entertain the crowds, and this is excellent because not everyone can be a Georges St. Pierre but still deserve gainful employment.
The second concern of selling a fighter is where Joe Silva, and other matchmakers earn their money. It is hard to sell fights under a brand unless there are stars within that brand that act as a figurehead. Often these will be exciting fighters such as BJ Penn, or fighters who have a following from outside MMA such as Brock Lesnar or Herschel Walker.