Elite XC lightweight contender Nick Diaz provided his hometown fans in Stockton, Calif., with an exciting early second round technical knockout win over Thomas "Wildman" Denny last Saturday night during Elite XC: "Unfinished Business."
The question now is: What is next for the Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt?
On the surface there are two very obvious answers to that question, both of which involve world titles. Either Diaz will take on Hayato "Mach" Sakurai (32-8-2) in Japan at DREAM 6 for the company's welterweight gold, or he'll finally get his redemption fight against Elite XC lightweight champion KJ Noons (7-2).
So which fight is going to happen?
Diaz has made it clear that he enjoys competing in Japan -- where he feels the art of this sport is better appreciated and the rules favor more of a traditional martial arts style. He was already supposed to have fought Sakurai at DREAM 5 two weeks ago, but that fight fell through when Diaz learned he was instead going to fight in Stockton for Elite XC.
It seemed obvious that Diaz would have much rather taken on "Mach" for a world title than a mediocre Thomas Denny in a non-title affair, but there's more to that story than meets the eye.
Not only was he fighting in his hometown an exciting idea for Diaz, but there's also some hesitation on his part to compete for DREAM since the Japanese based company has yet to pay him a single dime for his May win over Katsuya Inoue at DREAM 3.
The financial woes for DREAM have been made apparent in the news recently, but not paying your fighters is another story. Nick Diaz -- or any other fighter for that matter -- can't have anything held against them for not wanting to fight for free.
So, that leaves Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons II for the Elite XC lightweight belt, right? Well, we know Diaz wants that fight, but does the champ? It's become pretty apparent recently that either he or the promotion does not.
According to GracieFighter.com, Diaz's win over Denny last Saturday has convinced Elite XC officials that he deserves the next shot at Noons' strap. Sounds good, sign it up for October 4, right?
Not so fast ... Noons still has to accept the fight even though he has been adamant in the past, saying that he can't pick and choose his opponents because as the champ has to fight the best.
It's time to find out if that statement is true once and for all. If it's not -- and Noons does indeed turn down the fight with Diaz if it's offered -- then who knows when and against who we'll see "Diablo." fight next.