Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, a group of nuns are singing about how can they “solve a problem like Nick Diaz? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” Or maybe that melodic tune is coming from Cesar Gracie’s academy in California, the crucible that honed the former Strikeforce champ into one of the best welterweights in the world. For sure that sound of music isn’t coming from Las Vegas, where Dana White – cognizant that Diaz had skipped out on his pre-UFC 137 media duties, and unwilling to risk the Stockton bad boy bailing on the Georges St. Pierre title fight altogether – cut Diaz from the GSP bout and put Carlos Condit in his place. Sheesh. How do you solve a problem like Nick Diaz, a man who was once cut from the UFC roster, but did enough ex-Octagon ass-kicking to earn himself an immediate shot at the champ upon his return?
While we don’t know Diaz’s current whereabouts, and can only speculate as to his reasons for ditching his UFC responsibilities (and yes, attending media workouts, pressers and conference calls are contractual obligations that must be met), we do know this: he ruled Strikeforce’s welterweight division with an iron fist, iron chin and insane jiu-jitsu; he was cut by the UFC back in 2006 after getting out-wrestled by Sean Sherk, Joe Riggs and Diego Sanchez, yet did more than enough to earn his way back; he’s got talent for miles; he fears no one; and, finally, the dude is a total flake. Seriously, how many fighters have there been that screwed themselves out the kind of opportunity nearly all dream of simply because they couldn’t handle the appurtenant scrutiny? (Trick question, the answer is none.)
The truth is, there is no “solving” the problem of Diaz. He will always be the enigma that can’t stand the glare of the spotlight, yet impossibly capable when it comes to throwing leather and scrapping. Dana White, in surgically removing him from UFC 137’s marquee bout, did the right thing – both for the business of promoting fights in a professional manner and for the sake of putting someone worthy and stable in against St. Pierre. What remains, then, is the question of what to do with Diaz? Should he stay on the UFC’s roster, picking off lesser 170 pounders in match-ups that carry no weight and need for conference calls? Or should he return to Strikeforce, where apparently the extracurricular requirements are less burdensome?
If Strikeforce is indeed going to be kept alive (instead of being picked apart like a carcass, which is what appears to be happening), send Diaz back there. There he excels. He’s been competing in the realm of MMA for a decade. If, at the ten-year mark, he still cannot handle the trappings a UFC championship bout brings, then he never will be able to handle it. But Strikeforce is perfect. There’s plenty of fight left in the man, plenty of bad attitude and clobber to be levied upon opponents, and plenty of potential thrills for us take in during a broadcast on Showtime some Saturday night.
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? You inhale it, deeply, and exhale it back into the Strikeforce cage. Obviously, that – and not the Octagon – is where Diaz belongs.