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Nick Diaz’ Camp is Failing Him

February 7, 2012

In the main event of UFC 143, Nick Diaz spent 25 minutes walking down Carlos Condit, who spent the majority of those minutes circling off the cage, then landing more strikes than Diaz when the action was in the center of the cage. While just looking at stats alone does not tell the story of a fight, one look at the FightMetric numbers shows that Condit landed more strikes than Diaz in four of five rounds in a fight which only saw ground fighting in the final minute. Naturally when the decision came down in Diaz’s favor, fans were treated to the most predictable of outcomes. Diaz was irate at the decision, and used his mic time to point out Carlos didn’t fight and the sport of MMA is a joke, before letting it be known he was taking his ball and going home forever.

The reaction from Diaz at the end of the fight was as sure as a sunrise, and unfortunately so too was the interview Cesar Gracie gave to Ariel Helwani in which he steadfastly asserted that Diaz won and everyone knows it but the corrupt judges.

[All the judges] had him losing the first round, and two of the judges had him losing the second round. At that point there’s nothing we can do. If Nick would have had the same fight — if he’d fought like the first round the whole way through he still would have lost. If you think about that, that’s amazing.

I think they think he is disrespectful and they are going to find a way to judge against him. I don’t think Nick can get a fair fight in Las Vegas. I think that, in my opinion, the judges there don’t like Nick. He talks in the ring. At one point Carlos was running and he slapped in the face and said “quit running.”

That is a problem. A few weeks ago I discussed Anthony Johnson and how he refuses to learn from his mistakes when it comes to making weight, both by repeatedly making the error then continuing to blow off the mistakes like they are no big deal. In the case of the Diaz brothers it’s the same story, just with a slightly different title. Time and time again Nate and Nick run through opponents who play into their “we come to fight” game, and time and time again the first time somebody doesn’t oblige by standing in the pocket and letting the damage absorbed slowly pile up it’s because they’re a coward who came to play points, not fight like men, and the game is a bunch of horse shit. And you know what, that’s a perfectly acceptable attitude for a fighter to have, just as long as he’s content never being a champion. But the Diaz brothers want to be the best, and aren’t shy of letting it out they think that they are, and if either ever wants to truly be able to make that claim it’s become clear at this point somebody from without the duo needs to drive home that just coming to fight won’t always be enough. MMA isn’t a barfight, it’s a sport, and every sport has rules. The rules of MMA say that if your opponent can put you on your back and punch you from on top, or can stay outside your range, hammer your legs, and throw more strikes while landing with a higher accuracy than you, you are not going to win that round. Lose more rounds than you win and you lost the fight. Sorry, but “look at his face,” isn’t a recognized scoring method. Gracie could not conceive of a way the judges had scored the first round for Condit beyond fraud, despite the fact many, many, many, many, many MMA experts saw the round the exact same way the judges did.

The next night, the New York Giants got more yards of offense than the New England Patriots. Had they not scored their winning points in the final seconds, would they still have been declared Super Bowl champions? After all, the point of every play is to move the ball as far down field as possible and they did that better. Of course not. In the sport they were playing, there were clearly delineated rules for how to win the game, and by those rules the game was close, but the Giants came out on top only when they got the last few points, yardage be damned. By the rules of MMA, Carlos Condit scored more points than Nick Diaz in three, in some opinions four, of five rounds. If nobody finishes, that’s how you win an MMA fight. Nothing in the rules say that the Cesar Gracie camp has to like those rules, but if you want to play the game, either accept them or accept that you’re going to keep losing fights that you think you won on pride.

Nick was there for a dogfight. That was what Carlos promised for the fans, that they were going to go at it, and that was not a dogfight.

If Nick had been knocked out by Carlos, I would feel better right now than what I do. I don’t like that camp (Jackson’s MMA) and I’m not going to take that back. I like the fighters there, but when you have coachs that tell people to fight like that, I don’t like it. I am proud to not corner my guys like that and I never will, we have a code and I’m proud of the way we fight.

These are the most telling quotes from Gracie’s interview, as Gracie acts like it is some great affront to integrity that a fighter didn’t tell the truth about his gameplan before a fight. In what world would we expect an athlete to come out and say nothing but 100-percent truths about his plans, ensuring that his opposition knows exactly what to expect. If Diaz’ camp truly did prepare only for the in-close dogfight that Condit “promised” to bring, that is an embarrassingly unprofessional mistake to make. Gracie is never afraid to point out his distaste for Jackson MMA fighters’ “safe” gameplans, so Diaz coming in with his same style and showing no apparent ability to adjust and react to a counter-strategy that was beating him is a bad sign for him and his team.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to pin down exactly whether or not Diaz could have adjusted to Condit’s unexpected approach or if Diaz simply only is willing to fight with the same style of fighting he showed because his corner kept telling him he was winning.

I would have switched it up if I had thought Nick was losing the fight, but I was so confident that I felt I didn’t need to.

I agree with you, I thought he won the first, the second and the fifth. The third was kind of a toss up, but when it’s that close I always give it to the other fighter. At the end of the fourth I went up there to the cage, and Nick turned around and said “What do you think.” In my mind it probably was 3-1, but I said, “it’s 2-2, let’s go out there and win this fifth round.”

BE reader KGNLuc was kind enough to offer a full transcription of the Diaz corner for the fight, which is similarly enlightening. As you can see, Gracie only felt the need to go up and stress urgency to Nick before the fifth round, a point at which he had already lost the decision, barring a stoppage or a 10-8 to earn a draw, as he trailed 3-1 on two of the scorecards. What’s more, Gracie was promptly overruled by Nate anyhow.

Somebody says: What do you think. Maybe Nick
Nate: No. No, no, no, no, fuck that, you got every round.
Somebody, maybe Nick (Although it doesn’t sound like him) says: “Don’t lie to me”
Nate: He might have got that last round but that’s it. You got the rest. You’re up three to one, okay? Rinse it out, take a drink. Let’s get a couple of ten second intervals in this one, ok? Whenever you want, whenever you’re ready.

Diaz is assured that maybe he lost round four, a round he clearly lost, but definitely won the other three (he didn’t sweep any round.) Ultimately I don’t even think the problem is one you see commonly, where a cornerman decides it is better for his fighter to stay confident and knows he is lying saying his fighter won the round. Nate was sure Nick was winning, because he was coming forward and taunting, while Condit was just running and throwing spinning shit.

The conversation in the corner during rounds and on the stool between them is similar in tone, with the Gracie team dismissive of anything Condit is doing while positive Diaz is cruising to an instant victory. Shortly before the decision is read, Nate pulls Nick aside to tell him to remember Condit just did what he had to to survive. No doubt it was to remind Nick to be gracious in his victory speech, since a win was surely forthcoming. Instead, it served to have Nick’s last input before the read being that his opponent was lucky to walk out of the cage intact, setting the stage for the post-fight anger and retirement talk.

Both the transcript and the interview are worth checking out, and further drive home concerns about the ability of Diaz and his team to learn from this fight and use it to fix the holes Condit exposed. There’s the ludicrously silly complaints about Condit greasing with water; more talk about Nick’s boxing career, which he can’t have while under contract with the UFC, retirement or not; and claims every fighter Gracie talked to scoring it for Diaz which may have been true, though when a source fighters wouldn’t feel pressured to give a biased answer to were asked MMAJunkie apparently found a majority of fighters they got reached felt Condit won.

Nick Diaz is a great fighter, and Cesar Gracie is a great trainer who runs one of the best camps in the world. The unfortunate truth of any sport is that every participant is going to have holes in their game. In an ideal situation, the holes of one member of a team align with the strength of another. In this case, it seems that Diaz’ “real fight” blind spot to the realities of the sport is one that is shared by those he trusts most, and for a fighter at the top of the division, that little bit can be the difference between great and greatest.

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