Nick Diaz was running out of reasons to risk his health as Strikeforce champion and began looking for a big payday down an avenue which intrigued him more than facing any number of hungry, tough, but unknown MMA fighters looking to make their name off of his: boxing.
The Stockton kid was sniffing out a fight with the likes of Fernando Vargas or Jeff Lacy inside the squared circle, before Zuffa flexed its muscle and showed what kind of options they have now that Strikeforce and the UFC live under the same promotional umbrella. UFC president Dana White met with the elder of the fighting Diaz brothers and it was announced shortly thereafter that he would be vacating his Strikeforce belt to challenge for Georges St-Pierre’s UFC strap.
In the weeks prior to that landmark announcement, Diaz’s coach and manager Cesar Gracie indicated that the boxing deal was all but done, the only obstacle left being to find an opponent. Recently, Gracie spoke with MiddleEasy.com and explained how the powers-that-be at Zuffa kept Nick Diaz from boxing and managed to put together one of the biggest welterweight title fights in UFC history.
“Nick went down there and we sent a good team of reps down there with Nick and we got the deal done,” said Gracie, before elaborating when asked if he and his camp used the threat of Diaz boxing professionally to garner some leverage in negotiations.
“No. Not really, that was just a coincidence,” he said. “When we signed for the boxing fight, they hadn’t bought Strikeforce yet and we didn’t know they were gonna buy Strikeforce, no one had even mentioned it to us. So, it was just something he was gonna do, was box and the stars aligned that it just was a good thing. The thing with the boxing was: it was obviously going to be a big money maker and they had to bring something to the table to dissuade Nick from fighting in boxing. Using it as an angle, it was obvious we’re not just gonna say no to it, but bring us something big and they brought GSP. Nick’s been wanting that fight for a long time and that’s what brought him around.”
Nothing has been announced officially, but GSP and Diaz are rumored to be squaring off this October at UFC 137 in Las Vegas.