When Nick Diaz takes on Muhsin Corbbrey in the co-feature at EliteXC: Return of the King on June 14, 2008 at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, the situation is clear.
This is a very big fight for both combatants.
Of course, that's the case with every fight; it's simply the name of the game. But when you consider the fact that Diaz, who is one of the tougher and more well-rounded fighters to ever step into a cage, wants a rematch against current EliteXC Lightweight Champion, K.J. Noons; and that Corbbrey, despite a 7-2 overall MMA record that includes seven wins by stoppage, is a relative unknown. . .
This one is bigger than most for both fighters.
"Nick (Diaz) is one of the best in the world," says Corbbrey, giving credit where credit is due. "I am grateful for the opportunity. This will be a great fight.''
On one hand, Corbbrey is on a three-fight winning streak and has a significant amount of experience as a pro Muay Thai fighter and boxer. When you couple that with the fact that he's won six of his fights by way of submission, it makes for a dangerous man. On the other hand, the biggest win on the biggest stage of his career may have come against Bobby McMaster in his last EliteXC fight. McMaster can fight.
But the difference between he and Nick Diaz at this point in their careers is rather large.
Despite a clear amount of respect for both Diaz's striking and grappling, Corbbrey has some confidence in his skills, a must have for any fighter about to make the jump he is. Along with this, he believes that he may be able to use some of his background to his advantage.
"I think my boxing will definitely help me out a lot. We'll see on Saturday night."
When Nick Diaz and his 16-7 MMA record?eight (T)KO's and five submission victories?steps into the cage on June 14, he will be ready. His longtime trainer, the legendary Cesar Gracie, indicates that he's been training very hard. "His focus is on this fight coming up against Muhsin and everything," says Gracie. "But he's not looking past that. He's got to win this fight, and that's what he's focusing on doing right now."
Reinforcing this, Diaz himself says, "I'm really looking forward to my upcoming fight and I'm focusing only on it. I won't be looking past this guy. I don't look past any fighter.''
With all of that said, there is no question that the ever- tough Diaz wants what EliteXC appears to be offering after the winner of his match with Corbbrey?the winner of the K.J. Noons vs. Yves Edwards bout on a silver platter. If Noons and Diaz were to win, that would mean a rematch with only the second man to ever stop him, something that the current EliteXC Lightweight Champion would seem to relish.
"Of course, it would be great to fight Nick in the future," says Noons. "It would be a great payday for me. (But) Nick is such a big crybaby. Let him rebuild himself and then we'll fight again. I'd love an easy payday.
It's ridiculous what Diaz's camp was saying. Why would they think I'm dodging him? I gave him plastic surgery on his face. That's a fact. As long as he can get a doctor's note, (I'm all for) round two.''
In case any readers were wondering how Diaz felt about Noons and his words?"Noons is a little (expletive) and it doesn't even matter what I am thinking about him because we are not fighting," he says. "Noons won on a cut. He is only a paper champion. His days are numbered."
Speaking of being cut, Diaz didn't sustain any in his last bout, a victory over Katsuya Inoue. Says Gracie?"We had a plastic surgeon look at it (Diaz's tendency to cut). He said that Nick's ocular bones are extremely sharp, and he's always going to cut and keep building up scar tissue. So, fortunately, the plastic surgeon was able to remedy that by filing it down and making it smooth like someone that doesn't cut. I think that's the difference."
Regardless, when you break it down this is a huge fight for both Diaz and Corbbrey. A Corbbrey win in clearly the most challenging fight of his short MMA career would immediately catapult him into lightweight championship contention. A Diaz win could possibly bring him what he wants.
A shot at avenging one of only two TKO losses he's ever sustained. In case you were wondering, Diaz managed to stop Jeremy Jackson twice after being stopped by him back in 2002, leaving no doubt that he was the better fighter.
Will he get that kind of chance against Noons? Only if he's able to take out a hungry, up and comer with skills that could pose a challenge.
This one should be fun.