Let's start with what we know: 1) Jason "Mayhem" Miller
really wants to fight Nick Diaz
, so much so that he went to the trouble of having a special t-shirt made for the occasion
. 2) Both men were central participants in a well-publicized post-fight brawl on CBS back in April. 3) Diaz will be fighting someone in a Strikeforce event on October 9. 4) Miller's calendar is clear right about then.
If you're like me, you did the math on all that and arrived at one answer: "Mayhem" Miller and Nick Diaz should fight each other at Strikeforce's October 9 event. Case closed, right?
Not so fast, apparently. Here it is late August and Miller insists he's not been offered a fight with Diaz, nor does he expect that Diaz will agree to fight him at all, despite Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker's previous assurances that the fight would happen within "eight months to a year."
We know that Diaz hasn't exactly been campaigning for a fight with Miller. In his recent attempt at video blogging while driving
(safer than texting, but still probably not a good idea), he threw out a steady stream of expletives but stopped short of saying he'd take the fight. Instead, he pointed out the weight difference between himself and the middleweight Miller, conveniently ignoring the fact that two of his last four bouts took place at catchweights closer to 185 than 170 pounds.
You'd hate to think that Diaz, the innovator behind the original 'Don't be scared, homey' incident and a driving force in a number of MMA's most famous post-fight melees is running from a fight, but at the very least he doesn't seem to be running towards this one.
We know Miller wants the fight, and Coker at least claims to. That leaves Diaz as the only one who's yet to profess an interest, which is a shame, for several reasons.
First, this is a fight with built-in marketing materials. Remember that brawl on network TV? Because Gus Johnson and a bunch of Saturday night channel surfers do. All you'd need to do is play the clip, show the still shots of an angry Diaz with his fist cocked back, and let Miller rant into the camera during a pre-fight interview. A couple weeks of that kind of hype and even the most casual of fans will be willing to reschedule their wedding just to see this fight.
Perhaps more importantly, there's a serious lack of better options for Diaz right now. With the departure of Jay Hieron
, who never got a chance to shine in Strikeforce, the organization's 170-pound class is pretty barren at the moment. The two best welterweights in the company, aside from Diaz, are probably Joe Riggs
and Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos
, neither of which have Miller's name recognition or drawing power.
Strikeforce may very well decide that instead of putting Diaz against another true welterweight, now is the time for the rematch with lightweight K.J. Noons
(the original homie who was warned against being scared). That fight isn't as exciting as Miller-Diaz because a) Noons isn't a welterweight, and b) the heat between these two is nearly three years old at this point.
Granted, Noons and Diaz do have unfinished business, and they had their own post-fight fracas back in 2008. But that wasn't on network TV, and it also wasn't recent enough for most fans to still believe that it matters.
Perhaps the worst part about the Noons-Diaz rematch is, neither of them seems all that enthusiastic about it. Sure, they've both said at various points in the past that they'll take the fight, but they don't seem terribly fired up about it. I mean, has either of them even bothered to go down to the mall and have a t-shirt made?
One of the keys to good matchmaking is striking while the iron is hot. Noons-Diaz? That one cooled off a year ago. Diaz-Miller? That's the fight that makes sense now. Strikeforce needs to make it happen while the opportunity is there. Otherwise, all the hype will dissipate as soon as Diaz starts an ill-advised brawl with someone else. And let's be honest, it's probably only a matter of time.