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My name is Scott. I am a big fan. Big fan. I wonder how many times you hear this per day, especially in the days leading up to UFC 266 on Saturday. Once you land in Las Vegas, the center of gravity of the fighting world, I bet the attention and adoration is constant.
What is the thing your fans ask you the most? The title fight with Carlos Condit? Your rivalry with Georges St-Pierre? Your Takanori Gomi gogoplata-ing in Pride 33 that became a no-contest after you jumped for weed? The Nashville Brawl? The time you lay in the cage during your fight with Anderson Silva?
Or maybe it was one of those famous Nick Diaz sound clips. You are always brutally unfiltered in comments about your opponents, the UFC, yourself, or any other talking point. You are really funny, even when I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not.
These are all great memories, but on Saturday we learned that nostalgia is not enough. In the harsh, cold reality of the present, you may have suffered the worst loss of your career to Robbie Lawler, a man you knocked out in 2004 at UFC 47. This time he got the TKO, but the end is very unorthodox. fashion, even for you. And this time it wasn’t cute.
In the first minute of round four, Lawler dropped you onto your back with a failed right hook. For a moment, it looked like you were going to lie down in the Universal Symbol for Lawler to join you on the pitch. Since you are a high-level jiu-jitsu player, Lawler wisely refused, instead stepping back and waving his hands in the universal symbol for you to stand up so the brawl could continue.
Instead, you said something to the referee, and the referee called off the fight. Just like that, it was finished with TKO (retreat) 44 seconds into the third round. Your nose was bleeding, but not blatantly. There was no apparent injury, neither during nor after the end-of-fight streak. You haven’t patted or tried to get up. You said something to the referee, and it was over.
John Locher / Associated press
“I’m glad at least I did a show,” you sheepishly told ESPN broadcaster Daniel Cormier in the cage after the fight. “Guess I planned it,” you added, apparently referring to the original fight.
Your behavior during the fight week and before raising your eyebrows. Your fight week request to challenge middleweight combat and your insulting, rambling talks were all concerning, as you were seemingly unable to hold a thought in your head for much longer than a few fleeting moments. Specifically, you’ve said several times this week that you don’t want to fight and you don’t know how or why the fight was fought.
Put it all together – the fight, your declared reluctance to be in it and, oh, the six-plus-year layoff that preceded your fight on Saturday – and a new message emerges on the proverbial wall. You heard the roar of the crowd one last time and cashed one last paycheck. Spare yourself, your brain and your dignity and ride until sunset from Stockton as one of the sport’s true inimitable figures.
It’s not something that I enjoy writing, but I enjoy it a lot more than seeing you stumble into another fight night or news cycle.
John Locher / Associated press
Even despite all of this, you looked pretty good – I’d dare to spoil the premise of this article by calling it classic Diaz? —For important parts of the fight. You had only been knocked out twice before Saturday, and since you survived a first barrage from Lawler, it looked like your chin was intact. Then came those famous one-two combos. You’ve peppered Lawler with jabs and uppercuts, and while you’ve never been a strong puncher, the volume has piled up. Your hands are like bloodhounds, always sniffing openings. Your hand speed wasn’t great, but it didn’t seem to matter when your fists were hitting the house. According to official statistics, you logged in on 150 of the 339 keystrokes. You threw 176 in the first round, almost more than flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in her entire fight.
Don’t get me wrong: Lawler probably won both sets, but you made him competitive, maybe even close.
The crowd had spent much of the fight chanting Diaz’s name, and they were doing it early in the third when that Lawler’s right hook dropped you like a sack of dirt. And then it ended. It was just so abrupt.
Subsequently, you tried without much success to explain the loss to Cormier.
“I had a lot of stress coming into this one,” you said. “I’ve been gone a long time. Yeah, I have no excuses, I’ve been gone a long time. I don’t know how this fight went., Uh, you know, the organization of the leadership. C It was just an ass. But no excuses. I had him coming, and he was in great shape. “
Cormier, who like the rest of the UFC broadcast team is extremely allergic to criticism or “controversy,” did not ask Diaz about his decision not to continue. Closest to you was a note saying “I knew I was running away here so I didn’t want to do too much damage.”
It’s your right not to continue – frankly, I would like more fighters to take advantage of this option. But yours seemed so sudden and sad, especially from what you had said this week.
Let us not forget the great effort of your opponent either. At 39, Lawler is actually a year older than you and came on a losing skid of four fights. After the fight, he gave you a respect worthy of a legend. He also referred to a weapon he landed a few times during the fight that seemed to take away a lot of starch from you: a fiery, vicious body shot.
“I expected him to bring it to me, pick up the pace and try to break me, and I was there with him,” Lawler told Cormier. “But it was a fun fight.… I always had respect for Diaz. He brings it every time he steps into the ring.… I caught him with a few good body shots, but he was doing a lot of work, trying to ride. He did a great job, I was just relentless tonight. “
Father Time is even more relentless – it’s a cliché because it’s true – and it’s much closer than it looks in your rearview mirror. You can’t hide your 38 years, your 38 fight career, or the deep rust that comes from a long shelf life that has only seen you compete six times in the past 10 years.
I guess you can hear Father Time talking about this conversation. Saturday you saw him walk. Now is the time to follow in his footsteps.