Seriously, am I the only one?
There are certain unwritten rules about being an MMA fan. I think I conform to many of them. I have no fighting experience, but even though when the fights hit the ground and you can’t really see what is going on, I pretend that I understand the nuances of the Jiu-Jitsu battle that is happening, I watch all UFC cards and try to convince myself that each one is vitally important and that it is well worth sacrificing my time, social life, and (at times) relationship in order to make sure that I watch them all. I hold a vaulted position in my heart for legends of the sport like Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Royce Gracie, and George St-Pierre who not only had a great fight history but helped promote the sport to where it is today. I should become a fan of fighters such as Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva, and the Diaz brothers.
Well, I do all of those things… except one. I am not a fan of the Diaz brothers. In fact that is wrong, I am not a fan of McGregor, but I am actually far less of a fan of the Diaz brothers. They irritate me beyond belief. I cannot comprehend in my tiny mind what makes them such big stars. Why do people love them so much? I think that while they are both tough, mildly entertaining fighters, there are at least ten names far more in need of some of their stardom than they are and who deserve it far more.
I have tried to fathom why they are so popular and these are the reasons I have come up with. I’m sure there are many more which fan boys of the two Stockton natives will come with and remind me, but this is my take on them.
They are both throwback fighters: In the current climate of the UFC and mixed martial arts in general, these days it is far more about competition than about fighting. For the Diaz boys, this is a fight, they bring the “kill or be killed” mentality and fans secretly like the throwback to the dark ages of the UFC and harken back to gladiatorial combat.
The Stockton slap: Even I like the Stockton slap. Who doesn’t like to see a fighter get bad mouthed and then clipped round the ear like a petulant little school child? It is funny, it is amusing. I just don’t think that it seems to be this huge thing that everyone else makes it out to be.
The way they don’t play the game: The UFC, as an organization, likes their fighters to fall in line. In fact any organization likes their employees to fall in line and do what is asked. However, Nick and Nate certainly cannot be regarded as model employees. They are always asking for bigger pay days, not doing what is asked of them, and generally seem to be telling the bosses to f*** off. That appeals to the employee inside most of us who would like to tell our own boss to piss off.
Their swearing: Let’s be honest, swearing when done right can be funny, and Nate’s summary of Connor’s movement training of “playing touch-butt in the park” was down right hilarious.
Here are some reasons I find them less than much-watch television.
Their MMA records: Both fighters’ records show they are really not that good. Starting with Nick, he has a record which currently sits at 26-9. Don’t get me wrong, this is a pretty respectable record. However, if I look at his record more closely, he has wins over 9 people who don’t even have their own Wikipedia page. They may not have been tomato cans, but they were not born fighters. His last impressive win was against Paul Daley which was way back in 2011. After that fight, he did beat B.J. Penn who, in my personal opinion, was starting to look like a shadow of his former self. Following that fight he then lost to Carlos Condit, GSP, and Anderson Silva, although the Silva loss was overturned to a no contest due to Anderson testing positive for androsterone and Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites.
There is no shame in losing to Condit, GSP, and Silva; they are all top-level competitors and, even though he lost, he did so by decision. My problem is, I just don’t believe that he is an elite fighter. Now he has been out for over a year and a half, mainly through a ridiculous suspension. He now thinks he can walk back into a huge money fight, possibly a fight with the returning GSP or a title fight.
My advice: Listen Nick (and while we’re at it, the UFC), you have been out for nearly two years, you have not won a fight since 2011. How about you fight someone in the top 15 and see where we go from there.
Looking at Nate Diaz. He has a record of 19 wins and 11 losses, 5 of whom do not have their own Wikipedia pages. He has beat some top level guys including Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller, Michael Johnson, and most impressively Conor McGregor.
Both brothers have excellent Jiu- jitsu and boxing. They are both incredibly tough, both in great shape. I just do not believe that their skill sets are in line with where they think they sit in the rankings or the fights that they think they deserve. I think they are both beatable by elite fighters quite easily, as long as they have a good gameplan and do not get sucked into the mind games that the Diaz brothers are so good at. If you fight angry against the Diaz brothers, you will get beaten, a fight that Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone found out the hard way.
Their taking of marijuana: Nate Diaz could now be in trouble with for vaping cannabis during a post-fight press conference. Nick Diaz just had a five year ban for taking marijuana, which was extremely too long, thus later reduced to 18 months. The point is, whether you like the rules or not, and I totally agree that it is not a performance-enhancing drug, you can’t smoke, ingest, or be around marijuana if you wish to keep competing, especially in these days of USADA. So why take the risk? It is stupid, and it makes me think the brothers are stupid, which they are not, for potentially having fights and years taken away from the sport in the prime of their careers. When you retire, be my guest, go crazy, but if you want to get paid, perhaps it’s best to stay away?
Nate won the MMA lotto when he came into a fight with McGregor. At UFC 196 he got $500,000 and at UFC 202 he got $2 milion. It is a fact that without McGregor he would have come nowhere near those figures. Is it any wonder that he said he will not fight again until the rubber match happens? The fight prior to McGregor he got $110,000 to fight Michael Johnson. These figures do not show fight of the night bonus or Reebok, or performance bonuses.
My advice: Sit back, enjoy your money, wait for the McGregor rubber match. Win or loose, you will be a financial winner and no one will come close enough to give you that sort of money again.
Interviews: Nick and Nate are poor with their articulation both before and after a fight. “F*** him, f*** you, I’m not surprised mother f***ers” etc. etc. If you listen to someone like Conor McGregor, at least while being over the top, he brings valid points to his analysis of the fight game. Other fighters such as GSP, Chris Weidman, Daniel Cormier, and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, are also as articulate, although perhaps without the bombastic approach of McGregor.
Their fighting style: Both brothers are excellent in jiu-jitsu, but they both like to trade punches with their opponent and engage in smack talking and the odd “Stockton slap.” I’m not sure if this is a direct result of Dana White’s hatred of boring fights, but if you have a clear advantage in a fight, whether it be standing up or on the ground, surely you should use it?
Why did Nate not try to take Conor to the ground earlier at UFC 202? Why did Nate not try to do the same against Condit in their fight? It just does not make sense to me.
They are both durable, high-level fighters. They bring the action, but so do many fighters. Their articulation is poor, their fighting gameplay seems to be poor, and if you are demanding multi-million pound fights I just think you need to be one of the best in the world, which I do not believe either of the two are.
Conclusion: I don’t hate on the Diaz brothers and I am not a McGregor fan boy (or of anyone else, to be fair). They are good fighters, but they are no better than any top 10-5 fighter in the welterweight or lightweight division. They are doing an outstanding job of maximizing their revenue. However, I believe that they believe that their value is far higher than it actually is.
(Christopher King of Arundel, England is a new MMATorch contributor. He got hooked on MMA after watching UFC 114 featuring “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans and from there, he says, “I spent a ridiculous amount of money and time watching every event from UFC 1 up to the present so I could understand the history of the sport, the fighters, the weight divisions and everything else in between. It was the style of fighting that drew me in, in order to see what martial art was the most effective, and from there, the fighters themselves, their story, their training and the sacrifices that they go through.” Follow him on Twitter – @ChristofKing)