On Nick Diaz and If He Has What It Takes to Be UFC Champion

by Dave Walsh

The big fight between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz is rapidly-approaching, going down tonight, yes tonight in Montreal. Nick Diaz will step inside of the UFC Octagon and challenge for the UFC Welterweight Championship after an unsuccessful run at Carlos Condit and the Interim Championship last year while GSP was injured. The fight, which many believe that Diaz had won due to Condit’s defensive game plan that saw him back up more than move forward, would have given Diaz the UFC Interim Welterweight Championship, but he would have sat on the shelf for a year due to a failed drug test.

In a way, the UFC dodged a bullet by Condit taking the controversial decision win last February; Condit was able to fight Georges St. Pierre in November when he was healthy, while Diaz vs. GSP would not have been possible in November thanks to the suspension. This wasn’t the first time that Nick’s marijuana usage has gotten him into trouble, either. We first saw this rear its head in his 2007 bout with Takanori Gomi, one of the most entertaining MMA fights possibly in history that Saw Diaz submit Gomi, only for the fight to be overturned due to a failed drug test. In 2009 he was scheduled to face Joe Riggs, only for Riggs to pull out, then Jay Hieron, only for Diaz to skip a pre-fight drug test and be refused a license.

Georges St. Pierre might be the Superman of MMA, but we’ve seen him lose fights before and there is still a chance that Nick Diaz could take the fight to GSP and walk away as the UFC Welterweight Champion. The question is; Will Nick Diaz pass his drug test after this fight? If he does, how long until he fails another one and we see yet another UFC Championship embroiled in a drug-related state of limbo? For promoter Dana White, it would be his nightmare; the belt coming off of the wildly marketable PPV draw that is Georges St. Pierre and being given to a man who has proven to be unreliable at best.

There is a line from Spider-Man that everyone knows, “With great power comes great responsibility,” which is something that Nick Diaz will have to learn if he finds himself with the most prestigious title — possibly in all of MMA — around his waist. I’ll admit it right now, I’m an ardent Nick Diaz supporter. I think that he is a fantastic fighter and that his personality is a breath of fresh air in the rather rigid and ornamental world of MMA where everyone pretends to be on their best behavior for the cameras. Nick Diaz is a real person with real problems that he isn’t afraid to tell the world about. It is easy to respect Diaz for that as well as how he fights.

Nick Diaz winning could be a logistical and PR nightmare for the UFC, or it could be one of the best things to happen to it during this phase of uniformity and stagnation. It is all up to Nick Diaz tonight at UFC 158 now.