In the process of beating BJ Penn in the main event at UFC 137, Nick Diaz reasserted himself as MMA’s favorite bad guy and earned back the title fight he had taken away two months ago. With a fearless fighting style and a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, Diaz has gone from the Strikeforce champion with an attitude to one of the most universally beloved fighters in all of the UFC.
At least that’s the impression I got in Las Vegas this weekend. Diaz was the recipient of the loudest cheers at the weigh-ins and that was in comparison to his opponent, BJ Penn, who is one of the most beloved fighters in UFC history.
At UFC 137, after he stood in front of BJ Penn and busted up the face of the former champion in a manner that no one had ever done before, Diaz won a decision and again was showered with unrequited adoration from the fans. The only person who may have received a warmer goodbye that night was Mirko Cro Cop, the MMA legend who is walking away from the sport.
Dana White says people love Diaz because he is the realest fighter around. There’s a reason the picture on Nick Diaz’s Wikipedia page is a little blurry and out of focus – because it might not be real. Photographs of a smiling Nick Diaz are rare and some believe that they aren’t real. Diaz is the mean-mugging badass from Stockton, California. He truly believes in this “step out of line and you get smacked” lifestyle. He doesn’t really care and that’s what lost him his original fight with St. Pierre. He still doesn’t care, but he perceives fear in someone that is keeping him from buying a new home. That’s out of line and Diaz wants to do something about it.
Allow me to put my hack columnist/blogger hat for a moment. See, Nick Diaz, he’s like The Joker from The Dark Knight. And Georges St. Pierre? He is like Batman! Think about it. GSP is everything that is good. He wears the white hat under a black mask and we know he’s always going to win.
Diaz? He is a dog chasing cars. He is chaos – he is chaotic evil. And holy shit, do people love him for it.
In order to get his title fight with Georges St. Pierre, he had to play the villain. He had to call out the champ. He didn’t intend to turn this from an interesting title fight to one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory. This fight now has the juice that Chael Sonnen has given his fight(s) with Anderson Silva, but Diaz has done it in a completely different manner.
Now, Dana White has given him another chance at another chance. If Diaz can get through the next four months without somehow falling out of the good graces of his employer again, it appears that he will finally catch that car. The question is, when he does, will he know what to do with it the way that it appeared Chael Sonnen knew how to handle Anderson Silva?
It’s quite possible. Diaz has nine stoppage victories in his last 11 fights. (All wins) Both men have gone undefeated since 2007. On Super Bowl weekend, one of those streaks is going to come to an end. Will it be the hero people want, or the one they deserve?
[Image via @LorenzoFertitta]