You can say many things about former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz. He is one of MMA’s most enigmatic stars.
This Saturday at UFC 137 in Las Vegas, Diaz will step in the cage with a fighter that is certainly the highest profile and the best fighter he has ever faced. That fighter is former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn.
Since the moment the fight was made between Penn and Diaz, it has appeared that Diaz is a little reluctant to fight his former training partner. Diaz considers Penn a friend and thus feels a little less enthused to fight the former multi-time champ.
“I don’t want to fight my friends and people I know,” Diaz said. “It’s kind of a rule I have. He signed to fight first. I’d have never signed to fight first. I don’t care how much money, even millions of dollars, I wouldn’t have signed first. But he signed first. He sent me a message saying, `Sorry about the position you’re in. You got [expletive].” Diaz stated at the UFC 137 press conference held earlier this week.
The problem is that yes, Penn signed first and that means that he has no problem with making Diaz a stepping stone to another title shot. There is no doubt that BJ Penn will be extra motivated for this fight.
While Diaz is not looking passed Penn. His recent comments about the fight being a “sporting competition,” have to bring to question his psyche going into the biggest fight of his career.
Diaz even questioned his decision to leave a boxing contract on the table in order to fight for the UFC. “If I had my chance to do it over again, I would have gone back to the boxing contract,” Diaz said.
A poor performance in a loosing effort would be a disaster for Diaz. His stock as a star has never been higher. Despite being the underdog in the fight, this is a fight that Diaz can win. However, if his heart and mind are not in the fight, we all know Penn is the kind of fighter that can make it a very short night or even a very long and painful night. Ask Diego Sanchez.
Should Diaz win, there is no doubt he would get the winner of an eventual fight between Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit. Should he be defeated in convincing fashion, it will be a terrible blow to the momentum he has gained during his ten fight win streak.
There will be no “bounce back” fight following a loss and the road back to a welterweight title fight will be filled will road blocks called Koscheck and Fitch.
For Diaz the time is now. Prove the doubters wrong and the supporter’s right. A reluctant attitude will get him beat. Diaz has to bring the chip on his shoulder and be ready to do what he does best and that is fight.