Veteran fighter and perpetual supervillain Nick Diaz did an amazing thing at UFC 183 on Saturday night: He clowned Anderson Silva, the man who two years ago was considered the greatest middleweight on the planet. From his usual non-stop trashtalk and gestures, to actually lying down on the canvas and beckoning the Brazilian to “come at me, bro,” the former Strikeforce welterweight champ was a constant onslaught of antics while in the cage. And it worked! In pro wrestling parlance, he helped Silva “get over”, and made for an entertaining comeback fight for the returning legend.
But! The bout ended in a clear decision loss for Diaz, marking the third “L” in a row for the Stockton bad boy. That’s right, Diaz is now win-less since his destruction of BJ Penn at UFC 137 in 2011, which makes one wonder if, though he has style a-plenty, is there any substance left to his game?
The facts are thus:
- Since returning to the ranks of the UFC after a stint as Strikeforce’s shining star, Diaz has beaten only Penn. Granted, Diaz rarely fights, but winning just a quarter of your UFC appearances is not a good batting average.
- The flipside to that coin is that Diaz has faced only extremely elite competition, and his losses came not by stoppages, but by decision. His opponents have been Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit – three gentlemen who are far from scrubs.
- Diaz is getting old, and his mode of combat isn’t made for older dudes who are slowing down. Throwing two billion punches and whittling down the enemy to a knub works for spry youngsters. Old men can’t pull it off.
- The trash-talking rule-breaker persona Diaz cultivated early on now has a life of its own. This is great for the UFC, who can market him effectively as a “heel” to whatever star needs a boost, and it means Diaz will always have a job. But what about an easier fight? When will Diaz get one of those? Probably never, since there’s little reason for the UFC to waste him on a budding up-and-comer (and there’s also the fact that Diaz says he only wants “big” fights). Consequently, it’s possible we may never see Diaz win in the Octagon again.
When Diaz turned on the shenanigans in the opening seconds of the Silva bout on Saturday night, the thrill-ride kicked into high gear. But when all was said and done, he had nothing for Silva other than some ineffectual kicks and a cross that the Brazilian never failed to roll with. It seems the fighter who took out Paul Daley, Evangelista Cyborg and Frank Shamrock in violent and dramatic fashion is gone.
Now all we have left is Nick Diaz the entertainer.