Nick Diaz will get his shot at UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, but he had to take a risky fight against a former two-division UFC champion in BJ Penn and beat him decisively before he got it.
Diaz left Strikeforce the promotion’s reigning welterweight champion, lured by the promise of an immediate title shot. The fight was scheduled for UFC 137, but Diaz was pulled from the bout and replaced by Carlos Condit (originally set to face BJ Penn on the card) after failing to follow through on several media obligations. Diaz was then pitted against Penn in the co-main event, but the two ended up in the night’s top slot when St-Pierre pulled out of his fight with a knee injury.
Now, Diaz is back in line to face St-Pierre, having put on another captivating performance against BJ Penn and posing a post-fight challenge to the champ which couldn’t be ignored. Despite being the man of the hour, Diaz suffered a significant decrease in pay after being removed from the fight with GSP initially and, if Cesar Gracie’s comments on the Sherdog Radio Network’s Rewind program are any indication, he’s none too pleased with the situation.
“What happened is you can’t pull a guy off a card and then bring him back on: ‘Oh, he’s not good enough to fight. We pulled him out of the card. He can’t be in the main event. Yeah, here you go. Oh, wait a minute, guess what happened? Our little star guy over here, his knee hurts. Oh my God, we need Nick Diaz. Let’s put him back in the main event.’ Everybody wants to see that fight. He delivers,” said Gracie, Diaz’s trainer and manager. “Well, little star guy didn’t fight and Nick Diaz did, but they pulled a lot of money from Nick’s purse because it wasn’t structured for him to make as much if it wasn’t GSP, even though he was the main event now and put the people in the seats.”
Gracie pointed out the irony in the fact that the fighter who showed up to the press conference didn’t make it to the fight, while the fighter who didn’t make the presser ended up carrying the UFC 137 fight card.
“Nick Diaz saved that card. OK?” he said. “That’s what people need to remember when they talk about responsibility, is that he showed up, hamstring injury, knee injury, whatever. He had the same thing. He’s the guy that showed up. He’s the guy that fought his heart out, him and BJ Penn. They put on a show. They’re two great warriors. They saved the UFC that night.”
Describing the situation as “patently unfair” and one for which Diaz should be compensated, Gracie hinted that further negotiations with UFC president Dana White will likely ensue.
“We’ve had good negotiations with Dana before,” he said. “We’re going to put everything on the table, and I’m confident that we’re going to be able to iron all of this out and that Dana will make it right.”