It wouldn’t have been a stretch to think Nick Diaz and Paul Daley would be at each other throats come fight time next weekend, but judging by today’s conference call that won’t be the case at all. Both fighters were surprisingly complimentary of each other as they fielded reporters’ questions. Daley said Diaz is “one of the best boxers in MMA,” while Diaz feels Daley’s striking ability is up there with the best in the welterweight division.
With neither fighter engaging in any kind of trash talk, the focus of the call turned to Daley’s beef with the UFC and Diaz’s thoughts on teammates fighting each other.
When asked why didn’t want to take the fight, Daley said he liked fighting for the competition after the UFC gave him the boot, but that suddenly changed when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce.
I honestly thought I wasn’t going to take the fight. I was actually a bit hot-headed at the time; I’m that kind of character.
The way I saw it, Strikeforce was the biggest competition to the UFC. And the UFC, and Dana White kicking me out of the UFC, I kind of thrived in knowing I was the rival to the UFC. That’s what was driving me. I was in competition with them directly by being in Strikeforce or by fighting wherever I’m fighting.
As a fan of the martial arts and a fan of MMA, I don’t like to see the other way it’s going. The sport’s going to be a monopoly. In 10 years’ time, people are going to be calling MMA the UFC. I think that’s bad.
That’s why I wanted to pull out of the fight. I didn’t want to fight (for) the competition, basically.
Daley ultimately came to his senses when he consulted with his manager and realized the legal implications involved. Now he plans to win the title and hopes the UFC will be willing to negotiate with him when the time comes.
Meanwhile, Diaz scoffed at the idea of him ever fighting one of his teammates such as Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, or (gasp!) his brother Nate. He said their situation is nothing like Jon Jones and Rashad Evans’. Diaz says he and his team have grown up training together and fighting them would be “disgusting.”
[Jon Jones and Rashad Evans aren’t] real training partners, though. They’re like 10 years apart, for one, or something like that. They didn’t grow up training together. And then the guy is just brand new into this sport. He’s just doing whatever. They’ve got him so busy making photo shoots and press conference and conference calls and all that.
I’m missing practice right now being this! I’m missing a very serious practice. I’ve got a lot of people right in front of me on the mat right now training. I need my practice, and I’m over here on this call. It’s simple. It’s stuff like this. That’s what those guys have been doing — they’re not focused on who’s important to them in life, you know?
I’ve got training partners. I’ve got what works, and what got me there, and that’s my team. That’s a disgusting thought, to have to fight my brother. I don’t even appreciate being asked about that.
They don’t even pay me close to enough money to think about that sort of thing. They pay me way too much money, but not enough, as far as I’m concerned.
Other notes from the call:
- The earthquake and tsunami in Japan threw off Tatsuya Kawajiri’s training schedule for the Melendez fight for about a week, but he has since resumed his preparation.
- Daley thinks Jake Shields has a chance to upset GSP while Nick flat out thinks his teammate is going to win. That’s all Nick would say about that.
- Diaz didn’t pay too much attention to the UFC-Strikeforce deal. He has people that worry about the business side of the sport so he can focus on training and fighting.
- Paul Daley is a Nick Diaz fan: “I’m a fan of Nick Diaz. Unfortunately, I’ve got to fight him. He comes across a little bit funny on a personal level in some interviews, but he’s a talented guy. I know he has talent.”
- Nick Diaz doesn’t have any driving motivation behind this fight other than giving his team another victory.
- The UFC-Strikeforce deal lit a fire under Gilbert Melendez to get out there and perform to the best of his ability and find out if he’s the best lightweight in the world.
- Melendez plans to fight for six more years.
- Kawajiri did not train in a cage for this fight. Melendez plans to exploit that if given the opportunity.
- Melendez echoes Nick’s sentiments that they’re a family at Cesar Gracie’s and their loyalty runs deeper than money. If someone offered him $10 million to fight a teammate and $8 million to fight someone else, he would choose the latter.
- Diaz preferred the old Strikeforce rules where elbows were banned on the ground. He feels elbow strikes favor the wrestlers and less technical fighters and open too many cuts. Since he doesn’t get paid as much as boxers, he doesn’t think he should get more cuts than them.
- Daley doesn’t care if Diaz tries to take the fight to the ground. He doesn’t plan to let him and intends to turn the fight into a striking match.
- Daley admits this training camp was tough since he is coming off his Feb. 26 fight against Yuya Shirai. They had to pack 12 weeks of camp into 6 weeks and he felt physically and mentally drained halfway through. However, he took a few days off and is ready for the fight.
- Melendez says the hand he broke in the Shinya Aoki fight is perfectly fine now.
You can read a full transcript of the call at USA Today.