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Posted on September 9, 2011 by Jack Thurman
The big story in the MMA world in the past few days has been the ongoing saga of Nick Diaz. The most recent development in the career of one of the sport’s most talented–and least ‘business savvy’–fighters came earlier this week when Diaz was scheduled to make an appearance at a UFC mandated press conference to promote his forthcoming welterweight title fight against Georges St. Pierre.
Diaz didn’t show at the event and quickly Dana White, the potty mouthed autocrat who likes to think he’s ‘the man’ in the fledgling sport, sprung into action. He pulled Diaz from the main event replacing him with a ‘company man’, Carlos Condit. It wasn’t the first time White had served as judge, jury and executioner for a fighter’s career. Even Diaz’s fans and supporters suggested that professionalism dictated that he help promote the fight. Still, it was a strange situation–personally, I’ve been a fight fan first in boxing and later MMA since before I could walk and I couldn’t recall a fighter losing a championship bout for not helping to promote the fight.
There’s a reason that White’s move was unprecedented which we’ll discuss in a moment. After Diaz was yanked from the card and presumably cast on the scrapheap of the UFC’s ‘palooka-ville’ the situation got even stranger. Less than 48 hours later, Diaz was *back* on the card–not against GSP but in a fight against BJ Penn that had been afforded co-main event status. It’s a compelling fight, no doubt, but the entire series of events left MMA fans scratching their heads–the UFC had punished Diaz by moving him from a championship fight into a ‘co main event’ against a legitimate legend in the sport. The UFC had nixed one of the first truly compelling main events in some time–one that would have delivered the biggest PPV audience of the year and one that actually had some buzz in the promotions rapidly cooling Las Vegas home market–for a less competitive championship fight and a ‘superfight’?
My primary function in life is that of a sports handicapper. I live and ply my trade in Las Vegas and have connections not only in the state’s casino industry but in state government. A number of sources are telling me that Dana White put his company in a very compromising position with the Nevada Athletic Commission due to his handling of the Diaz situation. The quick return of Diaz to the card in a high profile fight was ‘damage control’ mandated by a promotion that didn’t want to ‘go to war’ with the most powerful athletic commission in the United States and threaten the regulatory oversight of the Nevada state government in the process.