Saturday Night's Mania Event: Nick Diaz's wacky and wild ride through the UFC

How do you describe UFC welterweight fighter Nick Diaz?

Crazy is the first word that pops into my head. I realize that's an unfair characterization, mostly because it's far too dismissive, but that's the result I get from a word association game.

UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre once called him "fake crazy," essentially acknowledging the fact that Diaz's behavior, while erratic, is mostly artificial, or at least it's played up to a degree not seen in most. There's no real way to prove this but it's difficult to argue.

For his part, Diaz maintains that he's not crazy, it's everyone else who is out of their minds.

All we can go on is what we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears. To that end, Diaz's track record speaks for itself. Since making his way back to the UFC from Strikeforce, where he reigned as the welterweight champion, his career has been an up and down roller coaster ride.

We here at MMAmania.com were there every step of the way to document the insanity. From the moment he was booked to fight Georges St. Pierre at UFC 137 to the day we learned he failed his UFC 143 drug test, we've had it covered.

There was so much that happened in such a short time span, I thought it would be interesting to go back and document the timeline of events that took Diaz from the peak of the sport, ready to challenge one of the pound-for-pound greatest fighters of all time, to the depths of despair, about to be suspended for one year for getting busted smoking pot.

Strap in, folks, this is going to be quite a ride.

May 1, 2011: We'll start this tale on the first day of May of last year. It was the day after UFC 129: "St. Pierre vs. Shields" where "GSP" had just put Jake Shields in his place with only one operating eyeball. The significance of the victory was masked by poor performances from both men but it opened the door for Diaz to slide his way over from Strikeforce for a superfight against St. Pierre, something Dana White openly acknowledged was possible for the first time on this day. Even Shields said he was hoping that was the course of action UFC would take.

May 6, 2011: While Diaz was openly calling for a fight against St. Pierre, he was still under contract with Strikeforce. The terms of his deal dictated that he could pursue opportunities in boxing if he so pleased, which was something he had been pining for long before he was ever calling out any French-Canadians. Diaz was flirting with multiple potential opponents for his first foray into the squared circle and on this day it was revealed that he found a taker to sign on the dotted line in the form of former IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff Lacy. It appeared as though a superfight -- and maybe Diaz's MMA career -- were going to be put on hold indefinitely.

June 1, 2011: Various reports of different potential boxing opponents for Diaz hit the web in the month proceeding this day, many of them simply posturing on the part of the Diaz camp to get a sweet deal to come over to the UFC and it was finally announced that he had signed an exclusive contract with the world's largest fight promotion and all the boxing talk went bye-bye. Not only that but he was given the fight against Georges St. Pierre for UFC 137, which was scheduled to take place on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas.

June 9, 2011: When it was announced that Diaz had signed a new UFC contract, it was said that he would be able to fight inside both the Octagon and the Hexagon, if he so chose. But that logic fell away quickly because what's the point in having him come to UFC to fight the champion in his division only to tuck tail back to San Jose if he were to lose? So on this particular day it was revealed that Diaz had officially vacated the Strikeforce welterweight title and, for all intents and purposes, became the exclusive property of the UFC.

Sept. 6, 2011: All was quiet on both fronts for a months, as St. Pierre and Diaz retreated off to Canada and California, respectively, to prepare for what promised to be the biggest fight of the year. Plenty of words were exchanged in the meantime but never in a press conference style setting, which was supposed to happen on this day in Toronto. It didn't, though, because Diaz no-showed the proceedings. This was the first sign of the pending shit storm. St. Pierre wasn't happy about interrupting his training to do all the promotion by himself but, more importantly, Dana White's unease with working with Diaz was growing worse every day.

Sept. 7, 2011: The very next day, the UFC held another press conference, this one in Las Vegas, and, once again, Diaz failed to show up. It was revealed by White that his people spent hours upon hours trying to hunt him down to get him on a plane. Hell, even his own team -- including his coach Cesar Gracie and brother Nate Diaz -- said they couldn't find him and reports were even circulated that Nick escaped out the back door of Cesar's house. Tall tale? Who knows. The result of this blatant insubordination was a very pissed off Dana White announcing that Diaz was removed from the main event of UFC 137 and would no longer be fighting St. Pierre. Instead, Carlos Condit, who was booked on the same card to take on B.J. Penn in the co-main event of the evening, would step up to the plate. He flew out just hours later to start doing media, making Diaz look even worse.

Later that same day, White initially appeared to flirt with the idea of outright cutting Diaz, expressing a strong discontentment with the entire situation. This, of course, was not the first time Diaz and the UFC had been at odds, as he had been released from the promotion years before for his inability to "play the game" as White called it. Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed and he was not released.

Even later this very same day, Diaz filmed a bizarre video from the front seat of his car -- while he was driving, no less, and screaming at other drivers on the road -- expressing his discontent with the situation and mock apologizing for "missing the beauty pageant." He maintained throughout the video that the whole thing kind of sort of felt like a conspiracy, with UFC expertly maneuvering him out of his boxing contract and into an exclusive deal with them with the promise to fight St. Pierre before ripping him from the fight. This ignores, of course, the fact that he put himself in this situation, but I digress.

Sept. 8, 2011: Even after everything had gone down and White had expressed as clearly as possible that he was disgusted with Diaz's actions, he hinted at "something big" being in the works for him. Indeed, word quickly got out on this day that Diaz would still fight on the UFC 137 card but he would do so against B.J. Penn in the co-main event, occupying the slot Carlos Condit had vacated when he stepped up to fight St. Pierre. An already hectic and bizarre situation became even more so with fans totally unsure of how to digest all this.

Sept. 14, 2011: While Diaz had found a new opponent in Penn, he had yet to fully move on from the ordeal with St. Pierre and on this day started unloading his entire payload at the welterweight champion, calling him a "little bitch" for not trying to salvage their fight. His line of thinking was that "GSP" didn't stop White from taking Diaz out of their scheduled contest more or less because he was scared and didn't want the fight to begin with.

Oct. 12, 2011: Due largely to fan outcry supporting Diaz and the Stockton slugger's continued refusal to let the issue die, White announced on this day that if Diaz could defeat Penn at UFC 137, he would once again be thrust back into a title shot. It would come against St. Pierre only if the champion successfully defended his belt against Condit. Even after all the nonsense and headaches caused, the goal was still attainable.

Oct. 18, 2011: On this day it's announced that Georges St. Pierre suffered a knee injury and he would not be able to compete in the main event of UFC 137 against Carlos Condit. "The Natural Born Killer" is ripped off the card because no fight made sense for him at that time and St. Pierre's recovery timeline was just a few months. Diaz vs. Penn was then promptly promoted to the main event, putting Diaz right back where he started at with much less at stake and a much smaller payday awaiting him.

Oct. 19, 2011: Just one week after finding out he could fight for the title again if he could win his next bout, Diaz once again found himself in hot water. This time, he showed up 45 minutes late to the UFC 137 conference call. This is perhaps even worse than a press conference no show because this requires no travel. In fact, all it requires is an functional telephone. He eventually made it but a growing tension was rising once again.

Oct. 27, 2011: On this day, Diaz openly admits for the first time that if he could take it all back, he would have ran with the boxing contract instead of hooking back up with UFC. His interests were rooted in money, mostly, namely the fact that he could make more of it inside the squared circle (or so he thought) but it seemed clear the demands of the job he was being asked to perform were too much for him. The cracks in the armor were visible for all to see at this point.

Oct. 29, 2011: After all the insanity, the day to stop all the talking was here. Diaz managed to make it through all the pre-fight festivities like open workouts and the press conference and weigh-ins and all that for the chance to climb inside the cage and do what he does best -- kick ass. And that's exactly what he did, besting B.J. Penn in a three round unanimous decision win. "The Prodigy" started strong but faded fast under the relentless pressure Diaz put him under. It was yet another career defining performance from the California native and he used the momentum to quickly call out Georges St. Pierre, who was in attendance. "I don't think he's hurt, I think he's scared, " remarked Diaz, much to the delight of all the fans in attendance.

As it turns out, that call out was enough to piss St. Pierre off on a level not seen before, at least according to Dana White, who told everyone later that night at the post-fight press conference that "Rush" sought him out and told him he wanted to fight Diaz, no matter what he had to do to make it happen. So White found Carlos Condit, told him he was taking a backseat and the rematch was booked for UFC 143, the promotion's Super Bowl weekend event. Once again, it was on like Donkey Kong.

Dec. 7, 2011: Unfortunately, bad luck struck again, as this day brought word that St. Pierre had once again injured his knee and this time it was serious. He would be on the shelf for at least 10 months time with a torn ACL. Diaz was booked to fight Carlos Condit, who was also scheduled for the card in a co-main event fight against Josh Koscheck. The two would battle over an interim welterweight title due to St. Pierre needing such a long recovery period.

Jan. 21, 2012: Dana White perhaps tips his hand a bit on this day, revealing that St. Pierre had reportedly told him he still badly wanted to fight Diaz and was pulling for him to defeat Condit at UFC 143 so they could set up the fight everyone wanted to see. White even said if all went according to plan and St. Pierre's rehab was moving along at the pace it was during this time, the bout could be put together over the summer.

Feb. 4, 2012: In what can best be described as disappointing and somewhat controversial, Diaz ended up losing a unanimous decision to Condit in the main event of UFC 143 on this day. The bout went all five rounds and for the 25 minutes the two were in the cage, it was as close as a fight can be. By the time it was over, the cageside judges felt Condit had done enough to win, leaving the Diaz vs. St. Pierre fight dead in the water.

Immediately after the conclusion of the fight, Diaz told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview that he was done with MMA because he "doesn't need this shit." He complained about the scoring system, his pay and the fact that the judges were too incompetent to see that he was the aggressor in the fight and he should have been the rightful winner. He was so disgusted with the whole thing he said he was taking his ball and going home.

Feb. 7, 2012: Despite Diaz abrupt retirement, his coach, Cesar Gracie, went on a social media campaign to get an immediate rematch with Condit. The first fight was controversial enough to warrant one, after all, and this would give St. Pierre more time to heal his knee. UFC brass were sold on the idea and apparently Condit was, too, as word got out on this day that the rematch was agreed to and they were to sign contracts for it in the coming days.

Feb. 8, 2012: The very next day, Cesar Gracie came out and said the rematch would not actually be taking place, scrapped due to some unforeseen circumstances. He would not, however, elaborate on exactly what they were. Rumors started swirling and the worst was assumed. As it turns out, it was true.

Feb. 9, 2012: Where there was smoke, there was fire, and word got out on this day via an e-mail from Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Executive Director Keith Kizer that Diaz had failed his drug test at UFC 143 for marijuana metabolites. Word of this circulated far and wide, even reaching the Times Square Ticker in New York (with no context, no less). The rematch with Condit was off and Diaz, who had popped positive in the same manner in Nevada back in 2007, was now facing a year long suspension. He said he was surprised by the positive result, thinking he had flushed his system properly before the test to pass like he's done so many times in the past. Alas, this time it was not to be.

And that brings us to today (Feb. 18, 2012). Diaz is currently awaiting his day in court, which looks like it will be April 9. Even if he gets a reduced suspension, he's likely going to be out for no less than six months. If applied retroactively from the date of the test failure -- which is usually the case -- he'll be back no sooner than August.

What a wacky and wild ride, huh?

As for the rest of the players in this story:

Georges St. Pierre is still rehabbing his knee injury and making more and more progress every day. His target return date is no sooner than November but depending on how things go, he could be out even longer. He's stated during his rehab that he still badly wants to fight Diaz and even pleaded with him not to retire. Kenny Florian was even quoted as saying St. Pierre told him he "would give up his welterweight title to fight Diaz."

Carlos Condit is in the midst of recovering from a public relations nightmare, as he's taken hits from all sides in this entire ordeal. That stems mostly from the strategy he used in his fight against Diaz but also in the manner of which the rematch plans and method of information release was handled. He's since stated that he'll wait for St. Pierre to recover and will not take a fight in the meantime, something Dana White agrees with.

B.J. Penn, who himself retired after his loss to Diaz, has talked some trash to the man who battered him at UFC 137, even challenging Cesar Gracie to a street fight. Nothing has come to fruition, of course, and he hasn't even fully made the decision on whether or not he's done fighting.

As for Dana White, he's still got bad shit happening to him every day.

Well, Maniacs (those of you who made it this far), it's been quite the journey. We here at MMAmania.com have enjoyed covering it every step of the way. And we'll continue to do so.

Sound off in the comments with whatever thoughts or memories you may have from all this madness.

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