The Diaz brothers are no mystery. When they show up to compete, they offer 100 percent effort from opening bell to closing horn. When they speak, they say some things that make you think, and others that make you scratch your head. Any other time, they are liable to do something controversial.
Over the last week, Nate Diaz offered up a bit of everything. On Saturday night, it was a small dose of controversy. On at least two occasions during his UFC on FOX 5 lightweight championship matchup with Benson Henderson, Diaz offered up a middle finger to Henderson in an attempt to rattle him. Viewers at home might not have noticed the gesture as the broadcast immediately cut to a shot of an empty arena, but it did appear on screen, if just for a split-second.
The incident caught the attention of many, including mainstream media like The Los Angeles Times and Deadspin.
Such things have happened on national television before, as recently as February's Super Bowl XLVI, when singer M.I.A. flipped the bird during a halftime performance on NBC. The network was not ultimately fined for it, and several broadcast attorneys have argued that such a gesture isn't even illegal under Federal Communications Commission rules, although it tends to generate public complaints. Most of the time, such incidents are handled by the individual sports leagues, which have a history of fining athletes who make the gesture on the air.
The response to this one has been fairly muted -- probably because people who watch mixed martial arts aren't the types to be rattled by something so mildly offensive -- and in a statement to MMA Fighting, a FOX spokesperson credited the UFC for its fast reaction to the incident.
"It’s not appropriate for air, but the folks in the UFC’s production truck were on the ball. They cut away so quickly that it was virtually indiscernible to the naked eye. We regret even a small fraction of a second snuck through."
Diaz suffered a lopsided unanimous decision loss in the five-round main event. And despite his earlier one-finger salutes, he exhibited proper sportsmanship at the final bell, congratulating Henderson and lifting the champion's arm in the air to indicate he was the better man.