Some of you may be landing here thinking this is gonna be a rant about Nick, or maybe an article questioning his actions or motivations. However, I’m not gonna even entertain the idea of expressing arrogance by pretending to know anything more about him than any other journalist or fan out there. In fact I may know less… So why the hell does my opinion matter? Because, I’ve refused to get sucked into the melodrama portrayed by the media bandwagon.
Writing about someone who incites so much passion (both negative and positive) from fans of MMA and UFC is actually more challenging than you’d imagine, and given all the intrigue and drama surrounding the UFC 158 bout between Nick and Georges later today it’s very easy to get polarized by other people’s opinions (both in and out of the media). So why do I feel now is a good time to write about Nick? Well, having a community of fans like those whom I’m so grateful for at SciFighting I’m also fortunate to see people cheer him on and others deride him for his attitude online. We’ve posted polls on our Facebook page and covered events as they have occurred leading up to the fight, but we were always careful not to take a side. Ultimately this was because as a press organization we have a responsibility to be objective and sourcing public opinion dispassionately is ultimately one of the highest forms of respect the media can pay any individual whom they might discuss in an article.
So back to the real subject of this story, Nick Diaz. Who is this guy? What does he stand for? Why does he act the way he does? Oh, well we could find a million answers and then a million more ‘experts’ who’d claim to know because they are ‘certified’ to know. However, as a human being, an individual thinker, a person who’s gone through a great deal in my life, I know in my head and heart that Nick is human. So human, in fact, that as a public figure (which due to his popularity as a fighter he undoubtably is) he doesn’t appear to live up to many people’s expectations. Is that something to be praised, pitied or prohibited?
Ask someone and you may get a different answer depending on the time of day or week or heck even press someone to explain themselves and you may find them waffling about from one side to the other in support of Nick.
Here’s the plain truth. Not a single human being on this planet can claim to be perfect. We all at one time or another fail to live up to our own or someone else’s expectations. Those of us with any humility what so ever acknowledge this and no matter how much we may dislike what Nick may say during an interview or how he may appear to behave outside of the octagon we often take a look at ourselves and ask, is it right to judge this guy? Who am I to judge him? Am I perfect?
That ability… to inspire self reflection is something that whether you’re a fan of Diaz or not you have to admit is quite powerful. It’s a force to be reckoned with and I believe Diaz’s ability to do this to almost anyone has even started to affect GSP to a certain degree. Nick is definitely the underdog in this fight. Not because of a lack of martial arts skill but rather because of the fact he comes from a totally different lifestyle than GSP. Before I continue, let me just say that people are given what they are given in life and it’s not what they have that defines them but it’s what they do with what they have and why they do it that’s important.
Diaz didn’t have a lot of luxury growing up in Stockton, CA. He didn’t have the same opportunities that many take for granted but he was, is, and always will be a fighter. He fought for what he has now and given that in this sport we base the quality of an individual on their performance as a fighter he’s undoubtably earned what he’s received. Unfortunately, with the MMA industry’s growing popularity the media has brought a great deal of scrutiny on the personal lives of such popular figures as Nick Diaz and this is where things start to get dicey. As mesmerizing as this sort of tabloid gossip is, it’s just never pretty to look at. How many of you have ever stared at a car accident on the side of the road? How many of you have made snap judgements about the cause? How many of you have felt guilty about doing so? How many of you have cursed the accident for creating traffic and making you late to your destination? And yet, we all continue to stare, thinking that the harder we look at this event the more meaning and understanding it will bring to our lives.
Again, this is the power I was referring to earlier. That of such extreme events, they cause us to think more deeply than we may feel comfortable. This is what Nick appears to do to many of us. However, you can hardly fault the man for this anymore than you can curse the drivers who were involved in an accident. Things in life just happen, not all of them are pretty or perfect but that’s really the beauty of it all. When you take a step back and look at how dynamic and diverse things are you see that there’s truly purpose and meaning to everything and as such, even the most extreme events and people give life that extra bit of variety that makes living truly interesting.
You may have noticed that while this article is about Nick Diaz, I haven’t really discussed many specifics about him. This was intentional. Enough press is already covering the minutia of his public and private life that I don’t believe it’s going to do anyone any good to rehash all that in yet another article. Instead I’d prefer to leave everyone with a single thought.
Have you ever had a bad day and been a complete “a-hole” to someone because you were in a bad mood? Conversely have you ever had someone be an “a-hole” to you and wondered whether they were just having a bad day?
I think Nick reminds us that life is a lot more “real” than we like to pretend it is. He doesn’t make many excuses for anyone or anything. Does it piss people off? You better believe it does, but you have to give the guy a ton of credit for being as fearless as he is. I’ve known plenty of people who grew up in tough neighborhoods, people who had troubled families, problems ranging from medical and financial to substance abuse and abandonment. These things affect a person, they strip away the veneer and bring a sense of urgency and appreciation for just letting go of the b.s. and trying live without a care in the world. When you grow up fighting and pretending, hiding and surviving you get desensitized to quite a bit. I don’t pity Nick, I don’t praise him, I simply respect him.
Finally, as far as who I’m cheering for in tonight’s fight? The answer’s pretty damn simple. The best fighter… who ever that may be. Any way you slice it both GSP and Diaz bring some pretty good stuff to the octagon and I’m looking forward to this fight. Even without the hype I’d have high expectations for a pretty heated battle between these two athletes.
To Nick and Georges, I wish you both luck! May the best fighter win!