[Image via cagereligion.com]
As the rest of the fights came and went, things got more awkward as the commentators themselves started to wonder aloud on broadcast where Diaz was. His opponent, top-ranked multi-medalist Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion Braulio Estima, stood on the mats waiting, only to find out that Nick Diaz was a no-show. Everyone in the crowd audibly, briefly, and loudly booed at the news, and a visibly furious Estima (in an inspired bit of self-promotion) said he'd go to MMA to challenge Diaz himself.
Reactions among fans are divided, to say the least.
Should we really have expected Nick Diaz to show-up for a high-pressure fight against arguably the best BJJ practitioner in the world? Is there something more sinister that prevented the Stocktonian from getting to Long Beach? Or did we all know, somewhere in the back of our minds, that this could happen with Diaz involved?
No matter what the answer is, one critical thing can't be overlooked: Nick Diaz didn't show up for a fight.
It's the first time it's happened (so publicly, at least), but that makes it all the more worse.
Right now, the image of the scrappy fighter who never backs down from a fight may be tarnished.
When Diaz was pulled from a fight against UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 137, it was ultimately Dana White and the UFC's decision. Every time Diaz has been late for a media call, it's been brushed off, because everyone knows that he'll be there for the weigh-ins and title fights. Eventually, everyone is familiar with the pattern — don't count on Diaz to show up on time (or at all) for anything but the weigh-in and the fight.
But this time, it's a little different. Everyone was in the dark up until the moment the fight was supposed to happen. Not only did Nick Diaz no-show a superfight against a famous BJJ world champion, he no-showed an event where his purse was being donated to a children's hospital.
Until all the information is on the table, you have to wonder what to do as a fan.
For everyone who paid the $9.95 price tag to stream the event, an exciting night of technical BJJ matches just got soured by the main event never happening. Each person is well within their rights to ask for their money back. St. Jude's Children's Hospital is well within their rights for an explanation, at the very least.
For everyone who likes Nick Diaz regardless of his antics, is Diaz's first no-show for a fight justifiable? Can you brush it off as Diaz being Diaz? Can the amount of Internet hype and media attention that Nick Diaz brought to this small event possibly be worth the resulting fallout?
For whatever the reason, Nick Diaz just burned bridges with a large chunk of the BJJ community, his camp (unsurprisingly) has no idea where he is, and tons of grappling-slash-MMA fans were left high and dry on a Saturday night when they could've gone out to go see the The Avengers or The Hunger Games.
Can you chalk this up to "Diaz Gonna Diaz" — or does this make you think twice about being one of his fans?
Personally, I'll withhold judgement until all the facts are out, but not happily.
Of his mind? RT @CesarGracieBJJ: Nick is out— McKinley Noble (@KenTheGreat1) May 13, 2012
Whatever the case, one thing remains the same. All of us hardcore fans are still talking about Nick Diaz, even when he isn't showing up for a fight. Fan or not, it's hard to deny that much.
[McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and former writer for GamePro, PC World and Macworld. Follow his Twitter account for crazy talk, 1990s movie references, and general weirdness. Or you could just stalk him on Google.]