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LAS VEGAS — The return of Nick Diaz is sophisticated.
I have been chatting to skilled fighters considering that 2009, but I have hardly ever had an interview go the way my dialogue with Diaz went this week. Diaz, 38, returns from a 6-yr absence on Saturday, against Robbie Lawler at UFC 266. He has finished incredibly little media in the buildup to this party — and one can see why, given the interview he did grant to ESPN.
Just 4 times away from the struggle, Diaz somberly admitted he definitely does not want to do it. He said he tried out to get away from preventing in excess of the last 6 years, but it inevitably pulled him back for the reason that it is really the only point he can do for himself and individuals close to him. When requested if there was even a one facet of this comeback he could delight in, he right away responded, “No. Practically nothing.”
Two title fights and the return of an MMA icon spotlight UFC 266 on Saturday. Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight title towards Brian Ortega in the most important occasion, while Valentina Shevchenko puts her flyweight title on the line towards Lauren Murphy. In a rematch 17 decades in the making, Nick Diaz fights Robbie Lawler.
Get UFC 266 on ESPN+ PPV
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega
• Saturday, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
• Key card: 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV
• Prelims: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+
• Early prelims: 6 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+
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Diaz suggests he feels this way before just about every struggle. He claims he by no means feels assured, nor does he appear forward to a fight in the way we are employed to listening to so quite a few fighters describe. A prevalent phrase in MMA is, “Camp is the operate, the combat is the fun element.” None of it is enjoyment for Diaz, and it under no circumstances has been. He is felt this way his full occupation.
There is certainly a diverse excess weight to all of this now while, in contrast to before in Diaz’s job. And a whole lot of people today are emotion that fat at the rear of the scenes, as properly as those people looking at it unfold from the outside the house.
On a single hand, Diaz returning to MMA is lead to for celebration. He was suspended from the activity for 18 months in 2015, after testing positive for traces of marijuana. In hindsight, that suspension — which was originally for 5 several years but lowered on attractiveness — was unfair. UFC athletes usually are not examined for marijuana in 2021, and before this year USADA “fundamentally” eradicated marijuana use as a punishable offense. UFC senior vice president of athlete well being and efficiency Jeff Novitzky said that its use “would not have any result on their ability to struggle.”
This sport owes anything to Diaz. He is a pioneer of MMA, and a cult favorite with its enthusiasts. People adore him. He is experienced a tortured marriage with battling, and in sharing that, he appears more human, more relatable. There are two title fights headlining UFC 266, but the major attract for Saturday’s event is unquestionably Diaz.
Due to the fact Nick Diaz’s suspension for marijuana in 2016, the UFC has substantially modified their coverage on the drug.
Even Lawler, who has rationale to not be pleased with Diaz just after Diaz requested a pounds modify to their bout this week, speaks glowingly of him.
“I have a ton of regard for Nick and anything he is completed, and who he is,” Lawler stated. “He form of marches to the defeat of his individual drum, which I frickin’ respect. He won’t just take crap. He is who he is, and I have regard for that.”
But on the other hand, no one particular can enjoy the candid job interview Diaz gave Wednesday evening and not surprise if this comeback is a excellent thought. During his 6 many years absent, Diaz did not glimpse like anyone who missed preventing. In actuality, he appeared material in only remaining still left alone.
In a meandering job interview with ESPN in 2019, Diaz was requested if he wished to resume his preventing occupation. “Completely not,” he responded. He was qualified to return to the activity substantially quicker than now, but in no way did.
Layered on best of all of this is the accomplishment of Diaz’s more youthful brother, Nate. Around the final 5 yrs, Nate Diaz has grow to be just one of the sport’s major stars and 1 of its highest paid out. Of system, Nick is delighted for his more youthful brother, but it begs the concern of no matter if you will find still time for him to money in as well. After yrs of the grind, Nate obtained the activity to pay out him again, in a way it has nonetheless to do so for Nick. When Nate fought Conor McGregor at UFC 202, his disclosed purse for that function was $2 million. Nick’s top disclosed purse, his combat versus Anderson Silva at UFC 183, was a quarter of that.
Nick Diaz, over, will be fighting for the initial time in six many years, versus Robbie Lawler whom he defeated 17 years back at UFC 47. Steve Marcus/Getty Images
So here Diaz is, headed into a battle he does not want. He claims the very last issue that goes by means of his thoughts as he walks to the Octagon is, “Why am I doing this?” And that experience will be two-fold on Saturday, subsequent this lengthy break from MMA.
Really should Diaz even be fighting? With a solitary search at Diaz’s lifestyle — the emergence from the streets of Stockton, the achievement of his have MMA academy, the fame and admiration from UFC achievement — it truly is uncomplicated to see all the good preventing has done. But then listening to him converse about it helps make it feel like he really should by no means do it yet again.
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You can be enthusiastic about Nick Diaz’s return. You can want to see him struggle Lawler this weekend, and even want to see him combat over and above that. You can want him to acquire a handful of paydays and finally walk away from this activity with fiscal stability to fall again on.
But the moment you understand some of the torment he goes through, it truly is impossible to feel 100% fantastic about it. And that is why this comeback, and Nick Diaz, is so difficult.