Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
MONTREAL -- Diaz gonna Diaz.
Is there any other explanation for what happened on Wednesday afternoon, when UFC welterweight title challenger Nick Diaz no-showed the open workout at the Complexe Desjardins, a sprawling mall on the eastern edge of the city? Perhaps it was a silent protest against capitalism and material possessions? Perhaps he missed his ride? Perhaps he got lost?
Diaz is definitely in town. The UFC made sure of that. On Tuesday night, the UFC charted his progress from California to Canada nearly minute-by-minute.
"We were practically getting updates from the pilot on his flight," one UFC employee told MMA Fighting. It was a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. In the end, Diaz did arrive in the city and was in town in plenty of time for the start of UFC 158 event week, which began in earnest with Wednesday's public event.
Diaz was one of seven fighters invited, but the only one to skip it. The official reason? There is none, at least not yet. Certainly he will offer some explanation at Thursday's press conference, as long as he shows up there. And if he doesn't? Then he's stepping in dangerous territory. UFC president Dana White already pulled him from one title match for missing his media obligations. Could he really do it again, so close to the fight?
"If he does not show up tomorrow for the press conference, it's not going to be good," UFC president Dana White said on The Jim Rome Show. "I don't know what to say, or what's going to happen, but let me tell you what, it will not be good."
Word spread around the media contingent that Diaz said the Wednesday event was just too early. He was scheduled for a noon ET block, and since he just flew in from California, his body clock saw it more like 9 am PT. That's early, but not entirely unreasonable. Jake Ellenberger flew in from the same time zone and was on time for his session, which began one hour earlier than Diaz's.
None of this seemed to matter to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. While his trainer, Firas Zahabi told MMA Fighting that he was chalking up Diaz's absence to his social anxiety disorder, GSP offered barely a reaction, or a concern.
"It doesn't change nothing in my life," he said tersely.
But is it fair, Georges?
"I don't worry about him. I only worry about myself. I don't care."
But what if he doesn't show up to the press conference tomorrow?
"He will show up. He's going to show up, for sure."
Is it for sure, though? Wednesday was just the latest in a line of recent absences. White said Diaz missed three interview tapings to promote the fight. He's missed flights and press conferences in the past. Another absence would no doubt threaten the main event, and make no mistake about it, Johny Hendricks is chomping at the bit for a chance to fight St-Pierre.
That said, White will likely give him every chance to hold on to his spot. The advertising dollars have been spent, Diaz is in town, and the MMA world is waiting. And if anything, the latest Diaz moment could have actually, strangely, helped the fight's promotion.
The amazing thing about Diaz is that nearly everything he does manages to fascinate the masses. Whether they love or hate him, they have to see what he's going to do next. For example, missing the press conference made him the story of the day, even ahead of the popular champion he's scheduled to face on Saturday night. He doesn't even need to show up to make headlines. That's a rare thing in today's news cycles. Beyond that, most fans don't necessarily care if he attends to his media obligations or not. Sure, several hundred fans in attendance left disappointed, and yes, everyone else likes hearing what he has to say, but the masses are far more interested in seeing him fight. So as long as he shows up on Saturday night, most will be willing to plunk down their $55 to see if he figures out the riddle of beating St-Pierre.
But on Wednesday, the trickier riddle was Diaz. Another day, another no-show, another moment lived on the edge for MMA's greatest enigma.
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