Of course Nick Diaz – oh he of the entertaining mouth and even more entertaining fighting style – wants to come back now that Georges St. Pierre is gone and instead there are bangers like Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler at the top. Of course.
And why not? Now no one is going to lie on top of him, whispering into his ear sweet nothings in a French-Canadian accent. As UFC 171’s main event between Hendricks and Lawler showed, those types of fighters are a thing of the past, a relic of days gone by. Today’s welterweight champion and contenders will stand and throw leather – which is just how Diaz likes it.
As Diaz told MMAJunkie before the event, he’s ready to come back. Watching “Bigg Rigg” and “Ruthless” stand before it each other, discarding nearly all pretenses of circling away for the sake of being in the pocket, in punching range to block, parry, counter, chip away and land that bomb, that had to have only steeled the Stockton Bad Boy’s resolve. That was his kind of fight they were having. They weren’t running, refusing to engage like Carlos Condit once did to Diaz long ago. They weren’t trying to stifle each other with takedowns, like GSP did to him (well, Hendricks did execute takedowns, but no one will accuse him of impregnating Lawler like they would if it had been St. Pierre in there). They were having an MMA-boxing match, and a damn good one, too. And when it comes to MMA-boxing, Diaz is one of the best.
Can Diaz talk his way into a title shot? He’d have to. He doesn’t much deserve one based on his recent merits of as a UFC fighter. Since returning to the Octagon in 2011, he’s fought three times and only one once, a drubbing of BJ Penn back at UFC 137. Since then he’s lost to Condit the moving target and GSP the blanket, and that last match was exactly a year ago. Maybe Tyron Woodley or Hector Lombard have earned a shot, but Diaz has done the farthest thing from earn it. No, Diaz is going to have to use his mouth to get a date with Hendricks – which, as we all know, is something Diaz could do.
If Hendricks and Lawler’s performance means anything, it’s that the Age of the Smothering Canadian is truly over, and Woodley and Lombard’s stand-up heavy performances last night only reinforce that. The time is right for Diaz to return to the Octagon, because it is in THIS kind of cage where he’ll excel.