Fighting isn’t necessarily fun for Nick Diaz. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
By the time Nick Diaz is face-to-face with Anderson Silva at UFC 183, it will have been nearly two years since the Stockton, Calif., native last set foot in the Octagon.
After such a break, one might think that he would return with a renewed passion for mixed martial arts. Instead, Diaz’s feelings are quite the opposite: His decision to punch the UFC clock again was borne out of necessity, not passion.
That became perfectly clear during a Wednesday media call with Diaz, who was asked by a reporter if he was excited to fight Silva on Jan. 31.
“I don’t enjoy fighting. I don’t use that word [excited] in this sport,” he said. “I use that word like maybe if I’m starving and food’s showing up soon. ‘I’m getting excited now.’ That’s kind of excitement. Or I’m excited to have a couple days off.
“Would you enjoy fighting Anderson Silva?”
During a relatively subdued session that saw him scold media for redundant queries, parody “The Spider” and quote Forrest Gump, Diaz made sure to point out that fighting is a job. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I don’t recommend anybody to be a fighter,” he said. “Fighting is not something that I enjoy doing. It’s something I feel that I have to do. That’s just the way it is.”
The former Strikeforce welterweight champion has not competed since dropping a five-round decision to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 158 in March 2013.
After that bout, Diaz announced his retirement from the sport. He has stayed true to his word for the past year, despite near-constant speculation about his possible return. Today, Diaz claims that his hiatus was just an extended break.
“I didn’t really ever mean to make the statement that I’m retired. You never really retire from martial arts. It just doesn’t happen,” Diaz said. “I’m not doing anybody any favors, and I’m not doing myself a favor by taking a fight that I’m not happy with. I pretty much needed some time off regardless, and you don’t really get time off in the UFC without retiring sometimes.”
Diaz recently signed a three-fight contract extension with the UFC. The deal, along with the proposed matchup with Silva, was apparently enough to lure him back into the Octagon.
“They were offering me fights, and I wasn’t really interested in the fights that they were talking about for pretty much the whole year,” he said. “I pretty much just dealt with aspects of life and it’s been what it is. We’ve been able to sit down and talk about it a little bit.
“I think that I was looking for the biggest fight that I could get myself into, just like always. That’s what I’ve always done since I was 18 years old, and I made it to the UFC.”
While Diaz has been quite vocal regarding fighter pay in the past, he seemed satisfied with the terms of his new UFC deal.
“I can’t complain. I can’t ask for anything more. I’m happy with the deal that I made,” he said. “It’s hard out there, especially when the rest of these guys aren’t getting paid what they should be getting paid.”
A welterweight for the majority of his career, Diaz will move up to 185 pounds to face Silva. He doesn’t expect size to be a concern, as the cut to 170 was often quite difficult for him.
“I’m pretty heavy, and I normally have a hard time making weight. It can be pretty rough making 170 pounds -- especially if I have fights back to back,” he said. “It’s really easy for me to put on weight, so that can happen real quick when you have a small window to try and live life in between a fight.”
The soon to be 31-year-old Diaz, who says he walks around close to 200 pounds, believes weight-class versatility could be one of his strong suits.
“At a time I thought I could fight at any weight. I’m a little bigger than I used to be now, getting a little bit older,” Diaz said. “I always thought I could fight at 160, 170, 185 -- maybe even 155. My brother seems to be able to do it.”
So yes, Silva-Diaz moving from rumor to reality triggered a great deal of excitement around the MMA community. However, no matter what might happen on Super Bowl weekend, do not expect Diaz to derive any pleasure from the action in the cage.
And according to him, any fighter who tells you differently is lying.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody; I’m a non-violent person. I don’t especially enjoy violence,” he said. “...I hate watching people get hurt over and over again.
“Some of these guys say, ‘I just want to hurt somebody’ or ‘I just love it’ .... Sometimes I’m just like, ‘You’re all full of s--t.’”