• On The Rise: Nick Diaz

  • UFC 171 poster 208x300 On The Rise: Nick DiazWhenever a major fight card takes place there will be movement up and down the rankings in some way, shape or form. This feature will look to reflect upon a recent fight card and analyse which of its competitors had made the biggest impact, made the biggest statement or has simply gained the most from victory.

    We will look at that particular fighters past, present position and what we can expect from them in the future, as well as comparing the outcome of their individual fight against the others on the same fight card.

    This week we will be looking at former interim UFC welterweight title challenger, Nick Diaz.

    This past Saturday, UFC 171 took place and prior to the event there was much speculation about how the landscape of the UFC welterweight division would look come Sunday morning.

    Throughout the night we saw impressive wins for Hector Lombard, Kelvin Gastelum and also Tyron Woodley all of whom are now well positioned within the division for a shot at the title in the near future. After all of these men had made their case, we witnessed an epic back and forth battle between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler truly worthy of deciding the new champion, with Hendricks getting the nod from the judges.

    In spite of all the big fights this weekend, the one welterweight that got perhaps the most attention in the immediate aftermath didn’t even step into the cage that night and prior to UFC 171 was classed as retired from the Sport, Nick Diaz.

    Diaz had previously decided to step away from the Sport due to his own dissatisfaction with the way in which fights are judged and the pay he received. What exactly has changed in that intervening period in Diaz’s mind is anyone’s guess but it is safe to say that fights are being judged just as they were back then and the pay scale hasn’t massively increased either.

    For a long time both of the Diaz brothers have been big news and their style has attracted a legion of fans but the mere fact that Nick’s presence was the focal point after UFC 171 is perhaps a restatement to how interesting the media perceive him to be or alternatively, how boring the other big names come across by comparison.

    This is a fact that the UFC seem all too familiar with also, as it was stated that they in fact paid for Diaz to fly out to Texas for the fight and arranged various media interviews in addition. This kind of promotional push is a privilege that is generally only reserved for a fighter that the UFC marketing gurus deem to be an attractive proposition who can take the attention and transfer it into headlines and PPV buys with Ronda Rousey being another prime example.

    As luck would have it, it was in these interviews that the UFC arranged where he expressed a desire to return. The UFC even went so far as to tweet a video of Diaz heckling Johny Hendricks from the crowd whilst Hendricks was making weight at the second attempt, the start of a promotional angle quite possibly.

    Whether the UFC would overlook the achievements of Woodley and Lombard on Saturday night is unclear but it is apparent that entertainment value is as big of a factor these days as the results themselves when Joe Silva is considering potential matchups.

    If the UFC were to pander to the whims of the casual fan and overlook recent achievements in favour of Diaz’s unique qualities, it may leave the likes of Woodley, Lombard, Lawler and Rory MacDonald to fight amongst themselves for the rest of the year at least.  Given the battle that Hendricks just had on Saturday and the time off that Diaz has had, we may be looking at a potential fight in late 2014, which would give the UFC time to line up future opponents for the winner.

    If the fight were to happen, Diaz himself may well see Hendricks as an ideal matchup for him. Unlike Carlos Condit, Hendricks comes straight forward with his striking and doesn’t rely upon the kind of footwork that got the job done for Condit.

    In fact, this may well be the exact reason that Diaz chose now to come out of “retirement”. He may see the current crop of welterweights as entirely beatable in the absence of Georges St. Pierre. He has the striking offense to cause any welterweight problems whilst being good enough off his back to competently defend himself whilst constantly posing a submission threat to his opponents.

    What is clear is that despite his recent record and the achievements of those in the top 10 at Welterweight, for whatever reason the MMA world loves the drama that a Diaz brother brings to the table and that drama could transfer nicely into solid PPV buys for the UFC.

    That kind of draw in the welterweight division has long been a given for the UFC thanks to the popularity of GSP but without him, the UFC is left searching for another star to fill the void of the greatest welterweight of all time.

    About The Author – Greg Byron

    Greg started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after his brother introduced him to a local MMA fighter/coach when he was just 16 years old. Greg has trained for nearly a decade in both BJJ and MMA, competing in several grappling events within the UK. In addition to MMA, Greg possesses a law degree and works for a firm in northern part of England.

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