The Uncertain Return of Nick Diaz

 

I love and appreciate Nick Diaz as much as anyone, I think he might be the most admirable figure our sport has ever seen. Diaz is as authentic as it gets and was really ahead of his time in a lot of ways when you look back on his career. At a time in MMA where pro wrestling antics are being shoved down our throats, and the influx of people who are getting into the sport are doing so in large part because of the fame and fortune that comes with it. One of the most authentic individuals in the sport is in position to come back and shine brighter than all of the rest. Diaz has truly never cared for fame and attention, if it was up to him, he wouldn’t do a single interview, a single press conference, or appear on camera anywhere outside the fight itself. It is that very quality that endears him to the fans unlike any other athlete in this game will ever attain.

But the last thing I’m about to do is to get excited for a triumphed Nick Diaz return based off of his manager saying he is planning to come back and a 6-second video of him after a test weight cut. I’m a long way away from being convinced we will ever see him in the Octagon again. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love nothing more than to see him come back. Physically, I’m sure he could hang in there with the best and look great just by default. His boxing is some of the very nicest to watch in the sport, not to mention some of the most effective. This is a guy that many forget comes from a Ju-Jitsu base, so it makes him all the more impressive. If Diaz can return to form with some sort of vigor for the competition, that would make me extremely happy and fans very lucky.

 

But in his last public appearance inside the MMA space in an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, he didn’t exactly instill confidence in the fans when it comes to his ability to return to competition. The whole thing was something different altogether from what we’ve seen from the elder Diaz over the years. It was essentially incoherent and a cause for concern if I’m being honest. He was talking like he was on the tail end of a long bender. He sounded like how I imagine me and my friends sound when we are still up at 4 am talking over each other after a long night of drinking.

Of course, just because he did not make a good account of himself on that day, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Diaz is on some sort of physiological tailspin, it doesn’t define him. Just because he may or may not have been intoxicated or feeling the effects of partying in that interview, does not mean that he is so troubled that he is beyond repair and that he couldn’t possibly return to competition and look as good as he ever has.

It just means that when an announcement about his return is put out there, that I’m a long way off of getting excited to see him fight. I have to see a lot more than just a statement from his manager and a video that’s a couple of seconds long before I even consider it happening.I have my fingers crossed that we get to see him back.  If he can return and even look half good in his performance, when you look at where this sport is right now, and how popular his little brother Nate has got over the past few years. Nick could be in a position to raise his market value higher than its ever been, which is essentially the sole thing he cares about. Anyone who has been following Diaz all of these years wants that for him because he deserves it, so I hope he comes back and gets it.

The good thing is that he has never looked shop worn or shown signs of being on the decline skill-wise or physically. So I’m confident if his mind was right, he would be able to return against top-flight competition and look good doing it. But the question is, how much has he been keeping up and training over the past 5 years? If you go by his social media posts, you’d assume that any form of training or fighting is the last thing he is concerned with aside from play fighting with his buddies in their hotel suits after getting back from the bar.

But I’ll remain hopeful because the guy is one of the most entertaining fighters on the planet. To this day one of the most jaw-dropping situations I’ve ever witnessed in this sport was being in attendance at the MGM Grand when Nick Diaz lay down on the Octagon just seconds into the first round against Anderson Silva. In that 2 seconds, the entire arena’s collective jaw was on the floor in complete disbelief of what we were seeing. The reaction it got was unreal,  the kind of reaction that can only be get generated by a Diaz.

I hope he has more of those in him, will we see the big return that everyone has been clamoring for? Or will the social media posts and articles written about his return disappear into the ether forever, never to be mentioned again like we see time and time again in the MMA News cycle. Time will tell.

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