By now you should know that Nick Diaz is not retiring and Carlos Condit's next fight will not be against Georges St. Pierre. Instead, a rematch has been booked with the papers set to be signed and the bout officially announced this Friday (Feb. 10, 2012).
We don't know when and we don't know where but we do know that it's happening. And according to UFC President Dana White, "Carlos wanted it."
This seems like an odd declaration, especially considering the fact that Condit's representatives were absolutely singing a different tune in the immediate aftermath of the UFC 143 main event this past Sat., Feb. 4, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were saying Condit was going to wait for St. Pierre to get healthy because why risk losing out on the shot to unify the titles? After all, they felt the result of the first fight was definitive.
There are plenty who disagree, including Diaz, of course, but his entire camp, as well. That includes Cesar Gracie, never one to mince words and a guy we can always count on for a sound byte or two. He campaigned publicly for a rematch, rallying the Stockton troops and social media blasting those with influence enough to make a rematch come to reality.
And now it's happened.
Unfortunately, this may be sending the wrong message, in more ways than one.
Before Diaz vs. Condit 1, Dana White had been saying that St. Pierre's rehabbing was so far ahead of pace that he could return in the summer and he would have no problem making the fight between Diaz and the welterweight champ at that time.
Then Condit spoiled the party, just like he said he would, and suddenly St. Pierre's injury is still bugging him and he re-injured his knee jumping up watching UFC 143 and now he's still going to be out until late this year.
Because of the promotional tactics employed in the lead-up to Diaz vs. Condit, we can safely assume that the powers that be wanted Diaz to win the fight. Who can blame them? With Georges St. Pierre showing some fire we haven't seen from him since the Matt Serra rematch, hype was building to a fever pitch for GSP vs. Diaz, the good guy vs. the bad guy. With Brock Lesnar retired, this would have been the UFC's best -- and likely only -- chance to have a pay-per-view crack the million buy mark.
But Condit screwed that up by teaming up with Greg Jackson to create a strategy that Diaz had no clue how to deal with. A strategy fans the world over despised and decried for its lack of action. "The Natural Born Killer" has made his name by being just that, a man who brutalizes his opponents before finishing them off with no prejudice.
Not a guy who "runs away from a fight" and "plays the game" just to "win on points."
So when that happened, fans revolted and Diaz took his ball and went home. This, of course, put the UFC in a highly undesirable position. A 28-year-old potential superstar had just quit, a championship bout they wanted to put together disappeared into thin air, the guy who took said superstars place is getting smeared in the media (both by pundits and even fellow fighters), and the champion on the sidelines, St. Pierre, is apparently saying he'll give up his title just to fight the superstar who just quit.
Creative solution? Rematch.
This sets a dangerous precedent, though. Essentially, it's the UFC admitting that the outcome of the first fight was not what they desired and they're making the fight again in the hopes they get what they originally hoped for. It would be naive to think otherwise. Dana White himself admitted to scoring the fight for Condit and feeling as though there was no controversy. And really, that's the only reason to make an immediate rematch of this nature, if the result of the first fight wasn't definitive.
The good news for UFC is they can make the argument that it wasn't, even though the mouthpiece of the organization said it was.
The other issue with making this immediate rematch is the UFC has now become the parent who caved to the crying child that didn't get his way. After losing to Condit, Diaz went from a bad boy boxer to an immature fighter and stomped off in a huff, proclaiming he was done.
Now that UFC has come calling with the promise of a rematch to make it all better, what does that say to the rest of the talent on the roster? That if you cry long enough and hard enough -- and find a little bit of support from an online community that adores you -- you'll get your way.
As our friend Zach Arnold at FightOpinion.com opined, we're basically being asked to forget the outcome of the first fight. But now that the rematch has been made, it raises a simple question Arnold touched on:
I understand why Carlos Condit wouldn't mind a rematch with Nick Diaz - because he thinks he can beat him again. I understand why Nick Diaz wants a rematch. What I don't see is how the rematch is going to produce a dramatically different outcome unless Condit gives up the Greg Jackson counter-strategy that we saw at UFC 143 and decides to go for broke in order for Nick to have a better chance to knock him out.
So, if you hated the outcome of the first fight and the way the judges scored it, what makes you inclined to believe that you want to see the rematch if the fans were bored with the way the fight played out the first time?
And therein lies the rub. What on Earth makes anyone think a rematch will look any different? What information do we have to make us believe Diaz will come with a dramatically different game plan, one good enough to counteract the game plan Condit will surely resurrect?
The biggest criticism of Diaz throughout his career has been his inability to adjust. Indeed, instead of figuring out the best strategy to defeat what Condit was doing in the first fight -- even something as simple as using footwork to cut off the cage to force exchanges -- Diaz threw his hands up and started trash talking in the hopes that would coax his opponent into engaging on his terms. When that didn't happen and he lost, he quit.
Unless he suddenly becomes a different person by the time they step inside the cage to do it again, we're likely looking at five more rounds of the same thing we witnessed at UFC 143.
Who knows, maybe this time the judges feel the pressure and side with Diaz. But if it's another close decision would they do a third bout? Sadly, the feeling is that if Condit wins, it will be considered. If Diaz wins, he'll move on straight to St. Pierre, no matter how he gets there.
Is the wrong message being sent here? Yes. Will it matter to MMA fans? I doubt it.
Am I wrong?