3 years went by, and when the self-imposed long term vacation of Nate Diaz ended it seemed as if he didn’t miss a beat. Still a thorn in the side of Dana White and the UFC for a multitude of reasons like, blowing off media events, missing flights that the UFC paid for because his presence was mandated, not attending a face-off during fight week, you know typical Nate Diaz things, and everyone has bought in, or stayed invested in Nate Diaz. The question is why?
Diaz has a slightly above average record at 20-11during his MMA career. He has never been a champion inside the UFC. Well if you count his winning the Ultimate Fighter Season 5 as a championship, then I stand corrected. However, he has as I stated never been a UFC belt carrying champion, however, he has now proclaimed himself The #BMFChampion (Bad Mother Fucker) after beating Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision in his return bout at UFC 241 earlier this month.
Diaz followed his same operating plan once the fight was booked, he bucked authority at every chance he had, called out the UFC for keeping him out of the fight game accusing them of trying to make him disappear after his loss to Conor McGregor, although many felt Diaz won that fight, he didn’t. Diaz was in his words disrespected by the UFC. When he stepped up to fight McGregor the first time on short notice, the UFC loved him, he could do no wrong. He then beat McGregor and the UFC had to appease the guy they had put all the marbles on in McGregor by getting him a rematch with Diaz. Diaz wondered why he couldn’t get the rematches with the guys he had lost to but McGregor could. Once Diaz lost that rematch, he says he was treated like crap, almost as if saying you lost, thanks, but now go to the back of the line and we will see what’s next type of thing.
Multiple fights involving Diaz were rumored to be taking place including a bout with now UFC interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier that was supposed to take place at UFC 230 in November of 2018. However, that booking was doomed from the moment it was announced at a press conference in Los Angeles where the UFC also had a big reveal and announced McGregor vs Nurmagomedov, and that pissed off Diaz who was onstage at the time and seemed as if he had no idea about that fight being announced. The announcement prompted Diaz to walk off stage and hit Twitter with “I’m not fighting on that show fuk the @Ufc”! Not an unheard-of response from Diaz, but his potential opponent Dustin Poirier who many believe is of sound mind and body a lot more than Diaz, backed Diaz with his own tweet of “I ain’t fighting on that show either F the UFC”! Diaz was now the voice of reason and the advocate that others were rallying behind. Very cleverly done Mr. Diaz.
After that not much to talk about involving the younger of the seemingly never happy Diaz brothers. Nate became a businessman when he and Nick started Game Up, a CBD company owned by the ass-kicking, triathlon athletes and cannabis connoisseurs themselves, Nate and Nick were now owners of a legitimate business that helps people feel better and get healthy without big pharma but rather naturally, very noble and a smart move financially.
Yet while we may not have realized it, we needed Nate to fight. There was something missing from the UFC while he was away, which also during his time away McGregor was busy boxing and selling liquor, Ronda Rousey was gone as well. The hyped and promoted big stars moved on well at least that is what it felt like. Diaz was here, but where was he, and why did it take so long to get him back?
If I am being honest, I have not always been the biggest Nate Diaz fan. While he does basically guarantee any fight he is in is going to be a war, the personality got in the way for me. The mumbling and more often than not incoherent performances during interviews and press conferences wore on me. In my eyes, he came across as a meathead who was able to fight, talk like a thug, and not offer much else.
His record was okay, he did things his way when it was a work situation and when it comes to working I am very regimented and rules oriented, so watching Diaz as a representation of athletes that already were getting a bad rap from the general public as nothing more than bodies and no brains, made me mad, and I wasn’t the only one to feel that way.
Then it hit me one day out of the blue, I liked Nate Diaz.
Diaz never conformed to what he was told to be, he has always been himself. I suddenly realized that in the MMA world I didn’t conform either. When I announce I am different than other announcers, I have my style and it works for me. When I do interviews I am myself with my guests. I will always do my show, and my website my way, I won’t be told how to do it, holy shit I am just like Nate Diaz in a sense!
Do you know who else is just like Nate Diaz? UFC President Dana White, that’s who.
5 years ago White, who has always done it his way said that Nate Diaz doesn’t move the needle. Here we are 5 years later and White has been forced by the returning Diaz brother to change his tune. Diaz took over UFC 241 fight week which was headlined by Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier 2 for the heavyweight title. While the big boys were the main event on paper and in bout order it was clear that the world was watching more because Nate Diaz was in the building.
White post-fight told the media that Diaz is a needle mover now on the level of McGregor and Rousey which didn’t go unnoticed by Diaz. White also thanked Diaz for what he brought to the event, which prompted Diaz to respond with “The best thanks would be a nice big paycheck”!
Maybe the headbutting over the years was due to the very similar mindset of both Diaz and White. Neither will back down when they feel they are right. They both want things their way and don’t like to give in to the demands of others as it shows weakness, a trait that neither man is known for. So maybe while it has been a rough and tumble partnership between them, it may be the only way it worked and allowed both to realize they respect and need each other in this crazy world of mixed martial arts.
3 years since his last fight and he is bigger now than ever, Nate Diaz is now at a point in his career where he is going to call the shots and be able to dictate who and when he fights and how much money he will make as the “A” side of a bout. He will be deciding who gets to make money with him, and fighters will be looking to fight him because that is where the money is at!
His next bout will hopefully be against Jorge Masvidal, and while there will be no official belt on the line these two MMA OG’s representing the dirty south and the west coast will get main event status on whatever card they are booked on, even with a title fight on the same card, Diaz will main event over a title fight in defense of his #BMFBelt!
The UFC was looking for a star to fill the void McGregor and Rousey left in their wake when they moved on to other venues outside of the UFC. Garbrandt, Dillashaw, this guy, that guy all were given the opportunity to be the star and never quite grasped the concept. And all the while the star they needed was right there, and now that star Nate Diaz is brightening the UFC sky, just like he always said he did, some of us weren’t looking in the right spot.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.