What started out as a press conference turned into a game of Nick Diaz venting on everything from being yelled at by a soccer mom, portraying welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as being pampered, railing on how mixed martial arts fights have become boring, and being mad at what is being said when it comes to promoting the March 16 title fight in Montreal.
"I don't get a lot of recognition for what I have to do here," said Diaz (26-8) in one of his long venting rants. "A lot of these guys go to red carpet events, are in magazines I think I'd be pretty upset. I'm coming to whip this guy's a**.
This fight is happening and nobody knows who I am. Well, everybody does. But as far as mainstream magazines, and Nike and Adidas, I'm left out of that. I just think I should be given the credit that I deserve, and that Georges St-Pierre (23-2) should be given the decorated opponent that he deserves. And I'm hardly that from the fans' perspective and people's perspective. And that makes me pretty angry. And I come off on a video pretty angry. You can't say I'm disrespectful because I'd like the acknowledgement that I've gotten over the last months or weeks from Georges St-Pierre, because he'll tell you he believes I'm the right guy to be in this position."
What was clear is this is a match of social opposites. St-Pierre is focused on retaining his title and being the polite, well-behaving Canadian sports hero, who in his country, is the face of an misunderstood sport.
With Diaz, he sees that as being phony, mad at St-Pierre for saying he's disrespectful and deserves a beat down when promoting the fight, although it was Diaz who started the game by claiming that St-Pierre had faked an injury to get out of a previously scheduled fight with him, even if the timing doesn't fit, given St-Pierre's injury took place after Diaz was pulled from that fight due to no-showing a press conference.
But Diaz feels the world misunderstands him, and he's not really the bad guy in this conflict. Diaz, in his mind, is standing up for martial arts, the skill of boxing and Jiu Jitsu against rules that allow strength and athleticism to beat technique. And he feels he's standing up against the sometimes contrived hype used to promote a fight, yet it was that same principle,using his mouth to insult the champion that put him in the position to get a title shot coming off a loss and a one-year drug suspension.
"I guess I like to think I'm talking up my defense," said the Stockton, Calif. native, who was the welterweight champion in Strikeforce before coming to UFC for a title fight that has been delayed for two years due to St-Pierre's injuries and Diaz's suspension. "You never know how things are going to come off on video. It doesn't matter. I've already come off a certain way to people, to the world. I'm already down that road and there's no going back."
But Diaz sees his role differently.
"I'd like to be thought of as someone who keeps it real," he said. "I don't like that I'm made out to be this evil person, who needs to be shot down and conquered. If anything, I'm the super hero coming in with the anti-bull****."
"This is mixed martial arts some boring a** s*** we're watching," he said. "I like Georges. I'm a fan of Georges St-Pierre. I appreciate everything he does, and how he does everything to win, and it meets the scoring criteria that sucks. It really f****d it up for everybody, makes it especially about the strong wrestlers."
"People will see mixed martial arts for what it is and what it used to be," he said. "They've manipulated it, the scoring, the judging system. I think they should take the elbows out, too. It nullifies the action. That's how it works. One day people are going to realize it, and realize that this motherf**** was saying it the whole time."
"Being stronger and explosive, beating you to the punch in five minutes, it's not what martial arts is about," said Diaz. "Fans can recognize this. I've watched a ****load of fights. People want to see real skill level, real Jiu Jitsu, real boxing, put together and mixed up. They want to see mixed martial arts. They don't want to see five minutes of holding. I think there should be points deducted when you do that. You should have to punch down and have action. People should see that a little better."
But St-Pierre broke from his polite manner as Diaz continually interrupted him, and tried to portray him as a rich, pampered superstar who has people at his beck and call, "powdering his nose," as he put it.
After hearing it for minutes on end, St-Pierre shot back, "Let me tell you something you uneducated fool," as each man started going back and forth. St-Pierre, who came from his own humble beginnings, was beginning to resent the idea Diaz was portraying this as the privileged king against the struggling commoner. In St-Pierre's mind, it's about a guy who worked hard and smart, and is now the ire of resentment because of his success.
"I haven't always been like this," he shot back at Diaz. "I haven't always been rich. I started at the bottom. As much as you don't believe this, because you didn't succeed yet, and maybe you'll never succeed, because I don't think you're smart enough to know what you have to do to reach this point. When you reach a point for your business, you need a team to make the economy, and keep the money rolling."
"That sounds nice," Diaz responded. "If I had someone buttering me up, maybe I'd have worked out. You don't even know where I came from. Nobody wants to come out here."
"You don't know anything about me," St-Pierre said.. "You think I was born rich? I've worked really hard. You have no idea."
"You've worked hard on your backflip," said Diaz.
"If you are where you are and I'm where I am, it's your fault, because you didn't succeed," said St-Pierre.
"I'm not jealous," said Diaz. "You did the right s***. You had a year on me. You won that fight. I was right behind you. I don't mean to be disrespectful. I don't have anything against you. I think you've done a great job. I think you do a wonderful job. Sure, you're pampered. I don't have anything against that. If I had the money and had the right people on my side, I'd be doing it, but I'm over here. Try that when you're 21 until you're 32. It's a b****."
An exasperated St-Pierre responded at one point saying he couldn't even understand what Diaz was saying. And then shot the dagger, saying that he could speak English, which is his second language, better than Diaz, who only knows one language, could.
After another long rant by Diaz, St-Pierre responded, "I don't understand half of what he said."
Diaz then complained about the story being portrayed in television ads, mad that St-Pierre allowed Dana White to say how he's never seen anyone so disrespectful, and how Diaz deserves a beating.
""He doesn't have enough reason to fight me?," asked Diaz. "I'm the No. 1 martial artist. I deserve to get a beatdown? You know what, I don't think you deserve to get beat down. I don't want you to get beat down. I want to win the fight."
"I deserve it (to get beat down) for running my mouth to get in the position to becoming something of what you are? You made the statement that I deserve to be beat down. You let Dana White say I'm the most disrespectful person you ever met. You let him say that. I pulled up to a stop light, some woman, a soccer mom, screamed out the window, 'I hope Georges St-Pierre beats your a**.' We're in Lodi (a town near his home in Stockton). I'm living in a small town full of people who hate me. I'm trying to work my way into a fight and now I'm the most disrespectful person and I deserve to be beat down?
"When you say something, everyone believes it," Diaz continued. "Everyone wants to know what Georges says. Everyone wants to look like Georges, be like Georges. Forget Jiu Jitsu. Forget boxing. Let's do the superman punch. Who gave you your black belt. That's disrespectful right there."
"Have you listened to yourself," said St-Pierre after that.
"Fine, for all the fans, I'm this crazy motherf*****," said Diaz. "You know where I'm coming from. You're trying to talk s***. Why don't you just say, `We're going to have a fight?' I don't deserve to be beat down. You think you're going to win. You have good reason. You're No. 1. You're the best. I'm disrespectful this and that. I'm sure you can find worse than me. That's not why we're fighting. It may be why fans think we're fighting, but we're fighting because I'm the right guy."
"You are the right guy," said St-Pierre.
Diaz then took a shot at a mostly quiet Johny Hendricks, who was also on the conference call. Hendricks was the more legitimate top contender, having beaten Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann via knockout in less than one minute each, as well as defeating Josh Koscheck, all in the last 15 months. But Diaz, whose same 15 months was losing a decision to Carlos Condit and being suspended for a year for a second marijuana test failure, is right now the best contender for business. Because of this conflict and how it's been promoted, combined with St-Pierre's proven appeal, UFC 158 figures to do more business than any fight so far this year. And it also figures to do more than any fight that has been announced thus far coming up.
In a sport where there is such a wide variation in business based on what the fans really want to see, those concerns are usually, like here, the ones that will win out.
"You want to work out with Johny and have a wrestling match?," said Diaz. "That's not what people like to see."
"No it doesn't," said Hendricks, who faces Carlos Condit on the same show, when asked if this was bothering him. "I don't know if he's watched any of my fights. When have I taken anybody down? I have wrestling. My background is wrestling. But I have knockout power. Just because I don't use it all, you don't have to use it all to win fights. The most important thing is to win fights. If you have to take people down to win fights, then do it. It's all about getting your hand raised. Fans like that. He has his opinion and I have mine. The only thing that matters is everybody wants to be on top, but there can only be one, and we're all fighting to get there."