How good is Nick Diaz? Right now I’d have to say pretty damn good! I was in San Jose this past Saturday night and was impressed with how well rounded a fighter Diaz is. My first memory of Nick Diaz came when he shocked the MMA world with a 2nd round KO of Robbie Lawler at UFC 47. Diaz was just a kid at that time and he seemed to have a huge future in front of him. I don’t know what caused the train to come off the tracks but following the win over Lawler, Diaz went 2-4 in his next 6 fights losing to guys like Joe Riggs, Karo Parisyan, Diego Sanchez, and Scott Smith along the way.
Diaz was just 22 and all of a sudden his future seemed more bleak than bright. A failed drug test at Pride 33 prior to a TKO loss to KJ Noons, and you had to wonder how much longer Diaz would be around.
Just as I don’t know what caused Diaz to struggle, I don’t know who (or what) gets credit for his turnaround. All I know is Nick Diaz is back on many best pound-for-pound lists after winning 9 straight, defeating Frank Shamrock, Marius Zaromskis, KJ Noons, and now “Cyborg” Santos in that stretch. I’m not even sure “defeated” is a strong enough word, I almost feel like I should change that out to “beat up” since that’s really what Diaz has done over the course of the win streak.
I know the excuses.. Noons was a blown up 155 pound fighter, Shamrock was old, and Santos was over-matched. These are all legit theories and have to be considered, but I don’t think any of these apply for guys rumored to face Diaz in the coming months. Paul Daley, Tyron Woodley, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and even former boxing champ Fernando Vargas.
Daley has crushing power as shown in his win over Scott Smith, and will be a major test to Diaz’s solid chin. Woodley is a former Division 1 wrestling champ, who also has KO power. Mayhem Miller fights at 185, but this is a fight that has to happen considering all the trash talk between the two fighters and Vargas has been in with some of the biggest names in boxing and wants to fight Diaz in a boxing match, not a cage. Outside of the quiet Woodley, the pre-fight hype with any of the other three should be excellent, and the stare downs during weigh-ins and referee instructions should be must see TV.
That’s all good for selling tickets, but what will happen after the door is locked and the bell is rung? I have to admit it’s hard for me to pick against Diaz in any of these rumored fights. I could see Diaz avoiding the power of Daley, taking the fight to the ground and submitting the hard-hitting Brit. I think his experience would be too much for Woodley, and I just think Diaz is a better fighter than Miller.
I have no idea if Vargas has re-charged his batteries during his retirement, but he was a shadow of his former self during his final nights in the ring. Diaz clearly out boxed KJ Noons when they met in October. I’m not implying that Noons is the level of boxer that Vargas WAS, but I’m pretty sure KJ is better than Vargas is TODAY and that’s what matters to me when trying to predict these fights.
It’s hard to believe that Diaz is just 27. You could tell me he is 37 and I might have believed you. I was one of the guys that wrote him off and am happy to say I was wrong. Will I be wrong in my predictions? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter, what does matter is more great fights seem to be on the horizon for an already stacked 2011.