Nick Diaz. Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
There may be no more polarizing figure in mixed martial arts than UFC welterweight contender Nick Diaz. Some fans adore him. Others can't stand him. And there are some who simply scratch their heads and throw their hands up, completely baffled by the things he says and does.
Journalists have agonized over keyboards trying to explain his personality and motivations, to almost no avail. Diaz is a riddle. But to hear him tell it, it shouldn't be quite so difficult to understand him.
"You see me. What you see is what you get," he said during Wednesday's open workouts in Las Vegas. "You get real martial arts, you get real fighting, you get a real warrior mentality. Some people aren’t mature enough to handle it. This isn't soccer. i have no problem being sportsmanlike about this whole thing. I understand it’s a sporting event. But to me this is a fight. I’m not going to let things change that to help this sport become what it is. I think this sport is what it is. I don't worry about looking good. I do what I've got to do to survive, to keep my teeth in my head, and my head on my shoulders. I apologize to whoever can’t put that together and understand that."
Walkout Shirts: Nick Diaz | Carlos Condit | Roy Nelson
That remarkably lucid description at least defines Nick Diaz, the fighter, which is perhaps all we can truly hope for.
Diaz (26-7, 1 no contest), who faces Carlos Condit in an interim welterweight title fight at Saturday's UFC 143, was his usual self during the media scrum, sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes mystifying, and often, both.
He spent time talking about his interest in triathlons, his disinterest in pandering to cameras, and of course, the fight.
He voiced no disappointment that he wasn't facing welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is currently on the mend after knee surgery, saying that his upcoming bout with Condit "just feels like the next fight," and nothing more.
But he also praised Condit's fighting style. While he has criticized St-Pierre for trying to win on points rather than going for the finish, he offered up no such issues with Condit, an aggressive, well-rounded opponent who has won 12 of his last 13 fights, including 11 finishes.
That type of style is remarkably similar to Diaz's, so it's no surprise he likes what he sees.
"I think the way I fight and the way my opponent fights, we're both two guys that are ranked top level, top 10 and we’re both looking to get ahead on damage more so than worried about going on top or bottom," he said. "We just want to win the fight and it’s pretty much more a realistic fighting style. And that’s what I’m about, is about being realistic."
The winner takes the interim title and could set up a match with the returning St-Pierre later this year. St-Pierre has gone on the record saying he hopes that Diaz wins because he hopes to fight him down the line. The popular champion cited Diaz's "disrespect" towards him as motivation, calling him unprofessional and arrogant.
But Diaz says he's just being who he is, not who anyone else wants him to be.
"People try to say, 'Nick Diaz, he’s crazy or not crazy or fake crazy,'" he said. "I’m like, 'Hey, bro, what you see is what you get.' I’m not out here trying putting on an act like I'm crazy. In my opinion, everyone else is crazy. They’re the ones who put on an act for you, doing what they're told in front of the camera. The camera gives them a line and they say it 10 times over again, and then whoever goes back and they can  it out. They turn these guys into robots. I’m just not going to be that guy. Don't tell me I'm crazy. I'm out here acting natural. I'm the only one here being realistic out here about this sort of thing."
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