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The Nick Diaz Effect

How The Enigmatic Fighter Altered So Much, So Quickly

By Chris DeFilippo, Senior Writer Feb 20, 2012

Nick Diaz’s second stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship was supposed to be more successful than his first. However, in four months time, Nick Diaz has left fans and the UFC with more questions than answers.  The Strikeforce welterweight champion relinquished his strap to challenge Georges St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight championship, and claim as the top welterweight in the world. But over the span of two fights, the earthquake that is Nick Diaz has crushed his reputation and the after shock can be felt throughout the welterweight division. Let’s assess the damage as we take a look back at Diaz's brief but memorable second go-round in the UFC.

  • Will BJ Penn ever return to the octagon?
Had Nick Diaz fulfilled his pre-fight obligations, we would not be asking this question. By deciding to skip press conferences prior to UFC 137, Dana White decided to switch things up. Carlos Condit would replace Diaz in the main event, and Diaz would fight Penn, Condit’s original opponent. Penn, coming off an underwhelming performance against Jon Fitch, agreed to fight Diaz. Diaz used his incredible boxing and near endless combinations to frustrate Penn and control the last two rounds en route to a unanimous decision. Following the fight, Penn called it a career. Penn seems to have settled into partial retirement, posting a message on his website that states:           “I want to thank all the fans for their love and support. I have decided to take some time off to enjoy life, train and teach. I will keep you guys posted with what’s next.” While it’s unclear as to whether Penn will officially retire, he may choose to fall into the line of other former champs and fading legends, such as Rich Franklin, Matt Hughes,Tito Ortiz, and Wanderlei Silva, who take fights that generate interest but mean little or nothing in the title picture.
  • Who is the rightful challenger to Carlos Condit?
The welterweight division was always one of, if not, the deepest divisions in the UFC. But in the past year, we have seen several contenders fall by the way side. Both Fitch and Jake Shields are coming off devastating knockout losses. After his loss to St. Pierre at UFC 124, Josh Koscheck rebounded by knocking out Matt Hughes and securing a controversial decision over Mike Pierce; however neither win impressive enough to garner a title shot. Thiago Alves, Rick Story, and Martin Kampann are in a jumbled mess. Story holds a victory over Alves, Kampmann holds a victory over Story, and Alves and Kampann are set to square off on UFC on FX 2. When the dust settles, one of these fighters could be awarded the number one contender spot. Jake Ellenberger potentially has the strongest case for a title shot amongst all welterweights (five fight win streak, with wins over Shields and Diego Sanchez). However he does not have the same name recognition as others, so nothing is guaranteed. My point is that Diaz is the clear cut challenger to Condit. The main event at UFC 143 between Condit and Diaz was as close as any fight in the last year. Many fighters/analysts were split on the outcome. While some say Condit fought the more technical fight, weaving in and out, landing more shots than Diaz and refusing to fight Diaz in close range, it Diaz was more aggressive throughout the fight, especially in the early rounds. Although he threw fewer strikes than Condit, Diaz landed more strikes to Condit’s head and body and displayed overall control of the octagon, even when he wasn’t taunting Condit. Condit even admitted that the fight was closer than he initially thought and agreed to a rematch. However Diaz’s positive test for marijuana puts rematch on hold indefinitely.Condit has to fight someone, seeing as St. Pierre will be on hold until at least November, but their doesn’t seem to be a worthy opponent in the meantime.
  • Will Diaz ever fight in the UFC again?
Following his loss to Condit, Diaz announced his retirement due to frustration with the decision, although few believed him. It is no secret that Dana White and Diaz have had their problems in the past, as evidence of how quickly White replaced Diaz in the main event at UFC 137. Even White believed Diaz’s retirement wouldn’t last long. A rematch seemed to be in the works, but a positive test for marijuana means Diaz could be facing a one year suspension. With all his troubles in the past, including his failure to appear at press conferences, post fight melees between he and other fighters, and this recent second positive test for marijuana, it is unclear if the UFC will bring him back (they cut him once already after three straight losses and a hospital brawl with Joe Riggs back in 2006).Yes he is a very talented fighter, perhaps one of the best pound-for-pounders in the world, but is that enough overlook his antics in and outside the cage? Diaz seems to be just as content fighting for peanuts in any number of local promotions, as he is on the grandest stage in Mixed Martial Arts, but it looks like his bluff may finally be called.

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