[Image via photos.lasvegassun.com]
Although fans may want to blame Carlos Condit for spoiling a potentially fantastic title-unification bout between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz, no one is more at fault than UFC President Dana White.
Let's rewind the clocks back to last year, September 7th, to be exact, when Dana White cut Nick Diaz from a title fight with Georges St. Pierre at UFC 137. Up to this point, the UFC had taken extreme measures to get this fight going. Not only was Nick Diaz hot off the heels of a thrilling victory over the recently exiled Paul Daley, but the Stocktonian was also angling for a boxing match against former IBF super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy. Due to Strikeforce's loose contract measures, such a thing almost happened, prompting Dana to intervene directly. In short order, Diaz was folded into the UFC with an immediate "Champion vs. Champion" title shot against Georges St. Pierre.
As some people might say, that's when Nick Diaz started being Nick Diaz.
After skipping two press conferences, Dana White shocked the MMA world by cutting Diaz from UFC 137, replacing him with Carlos Condit, who was originally slated to fight B.J. Penn (and would later be slotted to face Josh Koscheck at UFC 143). Many people thought that it was ridiculously extreme, even for the easily-riled UFC president. Others said it was simply Diaz at fault, proving that he couldn't handle the magnitude and pressure of a super-fight against GSP.
Now that UFC 143 is in the books, the common consensus is that GSP vs. Condit will pale in comparison, both action and revenue-wise, to what GSP vs. Diaz would have gained. Many don't even agree that Diaz lost the fight. And bizarrely, some people are even entertaining the idea of a rematch, such as Bloody Elbow's Kid Nate:
It will give Diaz a chance to adjust to Condit's tactics. A truly great fighter would have been able to respond in-cage but I'd like to see what Diaz and his team come up with given a few months to prepare. Diaz' entire flat-footed arm-punching style is a response to his frustration with the way MMA fights are judged on the ground and his serial losses to better wrestlers in the UFC. I look forward to seeing if he can adapt to Condit's game plan and if so, how.
But one thing that seems completely lost in the debate is that the blame for GSP vs. Diaz being lost to chance isn't Diaz's fault, nor Condit's or even Greg Jackson's. If you want to point the finger at anyone for ruining the most entertaining GSP match in years, no one is more to blame than Dana White. Although the UFC's incessant game of match-making Russian Roulette hasn't yet cost them other high-profile fights (Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans, Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva II), Dana's immense ego robbed fans and fighters alike of the match that we all really wanted.
And make no mistake, the UFC would've preferred Diaz had won. GSP openly talked about his desire for Diaz to win, doing some truly uncharacteristic trash-talking of his own. Even the UFC Primetime shows unambiguously teased a GSP vs. Nick Diaz title fight, making Condit look like the third wheel on a forgone conclusion.
Although many people, myself included, scored the fight 48-47 in Nick Diaz's favor for Rounds 1, 2, and 5, the fact remains that Condit out-struck and out-danced the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion instead of getting sucked into a brawl. Blaming him for winning on points isn't completely fair. Moreover, asking him to fight a rematch against Diaz is disingenuous to the title picture — do that, and it becomes clear that the UFC is willing to "fix" a match outcome in the interest of favoritism, and not to correct a "controversial" judge's decision.
[McKinley Noble is a former staff editor at GamePro and an MMA conspiracy theorist. Follow his Twitter account for crazy talk, 1990s movie references, and general weirdness. Or you could just stalk him on Google.]