I will be the first one to admit that I am not a big fan of Nick Diaz. Some people say he is good for the sport and that he brings in many fans that normally would not be interested in mixed martial arts. I don’t believe a guy who is an admitted pot smoker and who tends to stir up as much trouble as possible is good for the sport. I found him to be very disrespectful and I could not stand his antics one bit. After waking up Sunday morning I realized that I needed to separate the man from the fighter and today I am left with a whole new respect for Nick Diaz the fighter.
I was always impressed with his skills. He has slick jiu-jitsu and he has really worked on his boxing and can frustrate any fighter with those long lanky limbs and he possesses under rated power. He has a very tough chin and a heart that will never be called into question. With him I always thought it was his extra-curricular activities that I felt would hold him back. I also felt that it would be difficult for any major promoter to try and build a division around him because you never knew what you would get with him. To say he is a loose cannon is putting it mildly. Once again my beliefs have changed and I certainly feel that Nick Diaz is a fighter that any promotion would be lucky to have on its roster.
Diaz put on a clinic Saturday night, there was absolutely no hint of nervousness, he had more composure than a man who has been in the game a lot longer than he has. Diaz came in with a solid game plan and stuck to it. He utilized his strengths effectively and thoroughly dominated a fighter who I felt would give him all he could handle. I always knew Diaz had the skills to do these things physically and I was happy to see him win but what caught my attention more than anything else was his behavior after the fight and the class and respect he displayed towards Frank Shamrock. April 11th, 2009 is the day I believe we saw Nick Diaz grow up a little.
Now what is next for Diaz? For a man that is only 25 years old he has been in the game almost 8 years with 27 fights under his belt. He has faced some of the best competition in the world. He holds victories over such fighters as Chris Lytle who he defeated in just his second career fight. He has beaten Robbie Lawler, Drew Fickett, Josh Neer, Gleison Tibau, Takanori Gomi (Yes I know it was changed to a no-contest) and now Frank Shamrock. Even his losses are impressive as he taken Sean Sherk, Joe Riggs, Diego Sanchez and Karo Parisyan to the judge’s scorecards. He has been through wars and the future is his for the taking. My question is where does he fight?
While in the UFC he fought as a welterweight and seemed a bit undersized, he fought Gomi at 161lbs and EliteXC designed a lightweight division at 160lbs just for Nick Diaz. He fought Shamrock at a catch-weight of 179lbs and was actually the bigger man. He seems to have filled out nicely and I can see him fighting anywhere from lightweight to middleweight if he so chooses. Strike Force offers up some interesting match-ups for Diaz. A potential rematch with Lawler would be interesting. Lawler is taking on Diaz’ team mate Jake Shields next month at a catch-weight of 182lbs. There is also a rematch with KJ Noons who defeated Diaz for the EliteXC lightweight title because of cuts that Diaz suffered. They were supposed to fight again but Noons refused to fight Diaz and has since moved back to his boxing career.
He could look for some revenge against Joe Riggs after Diesel fights Phil Baroni next month in St. Louis. The possibilities are endless because of his ability to move up and down. There is Josh Thompson the Strike Force light weight champion who defeated Diaz’ team mate Gilbert Melendez for the title, Japanese superstars Kazuo Misaki and Mitsuhiro Ishida and hard hitting Scott Smith are just a few names that would make interesting fights for Diaz. His win over Shamrock opened up so many doors for him. He also opened up opportunities for Strike Force to build not only divisions around him but cards as well. The attendance on Saturday night was over 15,000 and the majority of the fans were there to see him and Shamrock go toe to toe. His performance only brought in new fans for him and also silenced a lot of his critics. He has always been able to promote fights with his trash talking but now he has shown a different side to his persona a side that will draw in many more fans whether they want to see him win or see him get his ass kicked.