Nick Diaz is as mercurial and polarizing a figure the UFC has ever seen, and the Pride of Stockton has captivated the MMA world because of it. With a chip on his shoulder and no intention to play games, the 28-year-old is often depicted as little more than a malcontent, his terse demeanor around fight time leading to wide generalizations about his character and who he is as a person.
But, you don’t have to do too much digging to find out that there’s more to Diaz than middle fingers and mean-mugging, especially now that he’s drawing so much attention and gaining exposure. In Diaz’s mind, the fighters who play the game and do what their told at the expense of who they really are or what they really mean are the ones who could use a psychological evaluation; he’s just keeping it real.
“With me, you get the real me, real martial arts and a real warrior mentality,” says Diaz. “I don’t act friends with anyone I’m going to fight. That’s crazy, I don’t understand that. Some people aren’t mature enough to understand I don’t want to put on an act for the cameras. I’m real. I’m acting natural, I don’t want to be friends around a guy I am about to fight. This isn’t soccer, it’s fighting. I’ve got no problem that this is a sporting event and being respectful but it’s a fight. It is what it is. It matters how I’m seen by fans; sometimes I care, sometimes I don’t, but when I think about it I try to be real.”
Diaz is on deck to face Carlos Condit tomorrow in a battle for the UFC interim welterweight championship and an eventual shot at reigning champion Georges St-Pierre’s true title. In Condit, Diaz is facing an opponent for whom he holds a great deal of respect — but you still won’t see him palling around with The Natural Born Killer during fight week.
“I don’t have it out for people, but I know who I am supposed to fight to be the best and that’s why I’m in this fight with Carlos Condit,” he says. “He’s the next guy I need to prove myself against. We are both top level and we win by doing damage, not by trying to score points. He has a realistic fighting style like I do. I’m not crazy, in my opinion everyone else is crazy. It’s real fighting, real martial arts.
“Carlos is a very well rounded guy. He’s tough and it will be a fight. I’m cool with him, but like always I don’t want to be around him because I am fighting him. I don’t act one way in front of a camera and another way when I’m not. I’m emotional but I don’t stage anything. People say I am crazy but I think other people are crazy for acting all nice around people they are supposed to fight. I don’t put on a show, what you see is what you get, and sorry some people can’t handle that.”
UFC 143 goes down tomorrow night from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas; don’t forget to check back on FightLine for our live, ongoing coverage of the event.