I was reading the Sports Illustrated article by Ben Fowlkes on Nick Diaz, and he makes some good points about Diaz and the mindset and approach he brings to the sport. Diaz faces Carlos Condit for the interim Welterweight Title this Saturday Night in Las Vegas, Nevada and it will be interesting to see what changes, if anything, in Diaz game under the biggest spotlight the sport has ever seen. Nick Diaz, if he can keep winning, will be the biggest star the UFC has ever created to date.
Let’s address Fowlkes’ point about Diaz being crazy. I can think of several other MMA fighters that bought that X-Factor of unpredictability, that life and death pressure that not everyone is cut out for. John Lober, Tank Abbott, Kevin Randleman. There are others, but those names just came to mind.
So Diaz has got something else as well as that ‘crazy like a fox’ readiness. Lober and Abbott, though tough guys, were never top level fighters, and in fact were probably more suited for bar and street fights. Randleman was an elite wrestler, and a one time UFC Heavyweight Champion, but he never achieved all he could have. And all three were as crazy as Nick Diaz has ever been!
Nick brings a lot of discipline, and a willingness to work, and he has dedicated his entire adult life to this pursuit. Tank and Lober can’t say that, and Randleman did, but in the wrestling discipline, not in MMA. Nick knows what he has to do to win a fight, and he has studied stand up and ground fighting at an elite level for a long time with this precisely in mind.
This is not to take anything away from Carlos Condit, who is a terrific athlete. Like Diaz, Condit has paid his dues over many years, and he must feel this is his chance.
As tough as Diaz is mentally, he has to be feeling some UFC pressure. He already got caught up in the whirlwind of attention before, and he has done good job of avoiding the negatives of missed press conferences and general surliness in the limelight this time around.
Come fight time, Diaz will handle the pressure just fine, and that we will see him fight at his best. Once he gets into the fight, we will see an even first couple of rounds, and then Diaz will step up the pace and pressure in the final rounds to pull away decisively. Bet Diaz, baby!