When it comes to the art of the no-show, Nick Diaz is a master. He’s the Picasso of blowing stuff off, the Rembrandt of staying home. He may have started small, with conference calls and interviews, but his greatness in this arena simply could not be contained. Soon he had moved on to no-showing entire press conferences, even when it cost him a UFC title shot and a boatload of money. Like all the greats, he suffered for his art. Also like the greats, he did his suffering in private, in part because no one can ever seem to locate the guy at the most critical moments.
Now, after sitting out his submission grappling match with Braulio Estima at the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo in Long Beach on Saturday, Diaz may have completed his masterpiece. By no-showing an event that was supposed to benefit charity, and by offering his fans no prior notice before skipping out on something they had paid $12.95 to watch on a live internet stream, Diaz may have set the irresponsibility bar so high that even he can’t clear it.
Final frontier: conquered. With this triumph, Diaz has carved his name into the permanent record of flaking out. Generations from now, when our space descendants decline to show up for their space commitments, their peers will utter that they have ‘Diaz’d out’ of their obligations. By then, the man himself will be long forgotten. Only the legend of his deeds will live on.
It’s not that I’m surprised by Diaz’s latest no-show. Sure, it’s impressive that he found a way to disappoint fight fans even while serving a suspension from fighting, but it’s still not exactly shocking, is it? From the minute you plan an event around the assumption that Diaz will be at an appointed place at an appointed time, your plan is flawed. You have to know that. Like snake-handlers who get a face full of fangs, the organizers behind the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo courted this particular brand of letdown. We all did, in fact, and it’s time we took responsibility for that.
You’re upset that you paid good money to sit home on a Saturday and watch a grappling match that didn’t happen? Sorry, but I have no sympathy for you. If you’re enough of a Diaz fan to pay to watch him grapple, then you’re enough of a Diaz fan to understand the risks. Complaining about the no-show is like buying a ticket for a Guns N’ Roses show in the early ‘90s, then whining when Axl Rose jumps off the stage and punches you in the face. You had to know this was a possibility, if not a likely outcome. You just got Diaz’d. Deal with it.
Same goes for you, St. Jude Children’s Hospital. You thought Diaz was going to participate in a paid competition benefitting your charity? Should have done your homework first. Then you would have known that there was a good chance he’d blow the whole thing off before maybe, possibly offering an unconvincing explanation that, not surprisingly, blames anyone but himself. You’ve now been Diaz’d in the first degree.
And you, Braulio Estima, who flew in from overseas just to meet Diaz on the mats? Don’t even get me started. In the world of rational people, sure, you made a good point when you said that showing up for a grappling match to benefit a charity is "not about showbiz; it's about being a good person." But we’re not talking about rational people, are we? We’re talking about Diaz, who does whatever he wants and accepts zero responsibility for it. You knew that when you got on the plane, or at least you should have. That's why the stewardesses were shaking their heads at you. 'Look at that poor guy,' one imagines them whispering to one another. 'He's off to get Diaz'd.'
It’s a little bit ironic that, after all his shenanigans in MMA, it would be something as innocuous as a missed grappling match that would deal such a blow to Diaz’s reputation. On Twitter and on internet messageboards today, I see even hardcore Diaz supporters -- the ones who took his side when he blamed the UFC and Georges St-Pierre for his squandered title shot -- renouncing their faith in the church of the 209. As much as MMA fans love to watch Nick Diaz the fighter, Nick Diaz the person makes that activity increasingly difficult.
If he weren’t so talented, maybe it wouldn’t be so frustrating. Maybe he’d just be one more flaky, irresponsible person in world teeming with them, and we’d all have stopped caring about whether he thinks it’s worth the effort to keep his word. Clearly, that’s not how it is. The enigma of Diaz is such that we can’t bring ourselves to look away, even when we know we should. Just like that sad sack Charlie Brown, we put our well-founded misgivings aside to take one more run at kicking that football. When it’s pulled away at the last minute, we’re reminded that we have only ourselves to blame.
It’s not like we didn’t know this was a possibility. It‘s not like it’s some new development. We put our faith in a person who’s trampled on it without apology several times before, and we got what we deserved. We got Diaz’d. Now it’s up to us to decide how many more times we’re willing to go through it again.