Hot Tweets: Nick Diaz’s possible return and how things have changed in MMA over the past 15 years


Sup, hooligans!

Hot Tweets is back! This edition falls on a rare weekend in MMA. (Yes, KSW happens and yes, KSW can be viewed, but it is so rarely seen in North America that it feels like an off week). We are happy to answer any questions you may have. This week, it turns out, that means a lot of Nick Diaz questions. Apparently, it’s 2010 again.

Pitter, patter!

Nick Diaz and a 2022 title shot

ICYMI: Nick Diaz revealed he’s targeting a return to the cage in 2022 and has Kamaru Usman in mind.

HAHAHAHAHA! You must be new here. Welcoming to your first day in MMA, Zak. We need more people like you. You are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and full of optimism. It is wonderful to feel young again, and to believe that UFC will embrace meritocracy over chasing the all-consuming dollar. While I don’t think Nick Diaz will be given a shot at the welterweight title, it’s not impossible to believe that.

I’ve repeated it before but nobody cares whether Leon Edwards gets a title shot. It is amazing how few people actually care. Even Jon Fitch — boring, tedious Jon Fitch — had people clamoring for him to get a crack at GSP after he strung together eight wins. However, Leon’s only family members who are doing this right now is, I presume, his immediate relatives. He doesn’t force people to do so. But you know who does? Nick Diaz. People still love Nick Diaz, despite the fact that he hadn’t won any fights in more than a decade or the six-year hiatus he had and the fact that his appearance wasn’t great after he returned, This is why I was asked a lot of questions about him during this low week in MMA. People care, regardless of the reason. For the UFC and Kamaru Usman in particular, this matters more than merit.

Very seriously, if Usman does defend his title in a rematch with Edwards, that will probably do 400,000 pay-per-view buys — a respectable number indicative of the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. But if he fights Nick Diaz, he’s pulling 750,000 at least. Sure, some people will wring their hands about how this is a blatant miscarriage of justice, but far worse things happen on a near daily basis in this sport, and we all just keep moving. Every day brings another issue, controversy or event to be focused on. And when Usman and the UFC are counting the extra millions made from all the extra people who tuned in, they certainly won’t care.

The truth is that Nick’s desire to fight is the greatest obstacle to Diaz’s title shot. This is not due to the UFC refusing to permit it. Diaz has said he wants to fight again every few months for the past seven years, and he’s only actually done it once (something I’m still shocked happened). Diaz will fight once again, I am certain. But to think that if he does fight again the UFC wouldn’t entertain the idea of a title shot, well, you haven’t been paying attention.

Nick Diaz’s next fight

First, I’d like to refer above to my belief that Diaz will not be coming back until such time as he actually is back in the cage. In a fantasy world in which Diaz fights again, I believe Michael Bisping would be the ideal fight.

Now, there are about 500 different hoops we have to jump through to make this happen. This fight is, in truth, the best. Both guys are big names, both are far beyond their best years, there are legitimate paths to victory for either man, and the mic work would be tremendous.

Yes, Bisping would have to come out of retirement, and yes, he has one eyeball, but if the UFC came to him with that fight, he’s un-retiring for it, and there’s always some commission who simply doesn’t care and would license him (Texas comes to mind). It’s the ideal fight for Diaz. One that doesn’t involve Bisping getting too brutalized, but still compelling in many respects.

Demian Maia is also available. They can also jiu-jitsu together. He would like to fight one more time before he goes. This is a nice consolation prize.

Nick Diaz vs. Chris Weidman

I have no idea why this fight came to mind for you, but the answer is Chris Weidman. The answer has always been Chris Weidman. The answer will always be Chris Weidman. Weidman would win at any stage of their careers if Diaz or Weidman had matched up. The fight would be almost identical to Georges St-Pierre against Diaz. However, Weidman will win because he is stronger and bigger. Even now, coming off a horrifying shattered leg and a terrible string of fights, it’s not like Nick is going to one-shot Weidman on the feet. We’re talking one-way traffic from start to finish.

Valentina Shevchenko

The flyweight champion is making waves about getting another crack at the bantamweight strap this year and, frankly, after she dispatches Taila Santos at UFC 275, that’s probably what’s next for her. So as for my most wanted Shevchenko matches it goes like this.

  1. Winner of Julianna Pena vs. Amanda Nunes. Had Nunes beaten Pena, Nunes-Shevchenko 3 would far and away be the answer. As it is, Shevchenko winning her second belt, that’s what I really want to see. Shevchenko is my favorite to win over any woman, and she will be the winner of this division after beating Santos. This is her chance to be a part of history.
  2. Miesha Tate. This is likely to occur if Tate defeats Lauren Murphy. Tate is a huge name in the sport and one of the few women of merit near her weight-wise that Shevchenko hasn’t fought. The Shevy Truck runs her over, but it’s still a good fight.
  3. Cris Cyborg. This will not happen, which is a shame. However, I would love it. Both can compete in any phase and both women are amazing athletes. Cyborg is larger, but Cyborg seems a bit more skilled, powerful and shopworn. This would be insanely dope. And given how little chance I give any other woman on the planet of stopping the Bullet Train, this would be a far more compelling fight to me than Manon Fiorot (who is great, but has as much of a chance of beating Shevchenko as Lauren Murphy did).

Bellator MMA

I wish I could, but they refuse to listen. It is my great hope that they will listen to me next month when I bring some of the best ideas to Atlanta. Bellator, though, they may be a lost cause.

Dustin Poirier

More like “Dusty” Poirier, because he’s on the shelf for so long, amirite?!

I’m sorry.

It’s Dustin’s fault. In situations where the question is, “Who is doing the bad thing, Fighter X or the UFC?” Nine times out of 10, the answer is the UFC. Poirier has done all he can do. He’s accepted multiple fights that have been offered to him (assuming he’s telling the truth, and there’s no reason to believe he’s lying) and even said he was willing to fight Colby Covington, a man he point blank said he didn’t want to fight, so long as the UFC would put him back in play. And still, he’s not competing this summer.

It’s genuinely mind-boggling why the UFC is willingly shelving one of their bigger commodities. While I am sure they have reasons for this, I think those reasons may be stupid. Poirier, an intriguing fighter and hugely popular, wants to fight. In the words of Lt. Aldo Raine, “Oblige him!”

Having Fun

Personally, the idea has never appealed to me. Other organizations have done it (ONE Championship does it frequently), but it always falls flat for me, largely because if I wanted to watch kickboxing fights, I’d just watch actual kickboxers do their thing instead of watching Contender Series randos get their Remy Bonjasky on. Despite that, I believe UFC should be more playful with promotion and offer other options like the “BMF” belt.

The UFC should have learned from the BMF belt that it doesn’t mean you have to be in a hyper-structured environment where titles and all things are secondary. You can have that, and that’s cool, but you can also just do cool s***. It makes no sense why there aren’t one to two grand prix each year for non-ranked fighters. Instead of doing a bantamweight GP that takes up the top 10 of the division for a year like Bellator does, do one with some underpromoted prospects. This would build stardom by creating a compelling story, and the winner could get a trophy or a car. This is the easiest way to increase stakes in fights otherwise forgotten. Plus, the winner can forever be the 2022 Lightweight Grand Prix Champion, or whatever. There is zero downside, but the UFC hasn’t done it.

The biggest example of this sort of promotional constipation is the MVF title that never was. Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez were fighting for “Most Violent Fighting” title. A promotion that was worth its salt would have made it possible to give the winner a crown-of-thorns trophy. It would have been so sick, this unique, badass thing that elevated the fight. The UFC doesn’t want to try these things. There is an almost endless amount of options.

The State of MMA

For context, I’ve been an MMA fan for nearly 20 years now. I remember some kid in school showing me the Randleplex, and I thought it was the single coolest thing I’d ever seen (and still is aside from the Grand Canyon — holy s*** that place is something else) and that was the start. I found the Sherdog forums, got sucked into that whole world, and I’ve been here ever since. So my fandom started a little before The Ultimate Fighter and the UFC becoming a mainstream success, and I have to say, things are INFINITELY better today than they were back then.

Fights today are almost exclusively better than they were in the mid-2000s, because fighters are much better. Sure, you’ll still get a dud every once in awhile (here’s looking at you Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas) but on balance, the average undercard scrap at a Fight Night, relevant or not, is still substantially better to watch than some of the main card stuff we used to get. Another factor is that we now get the undercards! Not so long ago, you couldn’t see the undercards. This was because the main event was moving too fast that the stoppage was necessary. Nowadays, I am able to watch almost any fight ever. I would have given myself paper cuts under the fingernails to have that sort of access in 2005 (hell, I even remember when you could watch prelims on Facebook and that was a huge deal. Damn, I’m old. )

It’s not just the quality and availability of the sport that is so great now, though. Very seriously, the fact that, at least broadly, people respect MMA is so phenomenal, and those of you who aren’t old-as-dirt fans can’t really fathom it. MMA, even though it was a largely similar sport, was viewed by many as a low-class thing and was only practiced and watched by psychos and degenerates. It’s why basically every UFC event for a decade had Joe Rogan essentially making the case for why this wasn’t human cockfighting. It’s almost priceless to let the sport be on its merits without having to defend it at every event.

As for the things I hate in comparison to “the good old days,” they’re small in comparison. It’s difficult to be a true hardcore fan when there are so many events. This is my biggest complaint. Although it may seem trivial, there are people in UFC who can’t be picked out from a group of just two who’ve seen five UFC fights. And I’ve literally seen every single UFC event ever! But with the sheer volume they produce, the monochromatic nature of their production (uniforms), and the UFC’s lack of interest in promoting anything other than the biggest events they have, it all bleeds together. This is, however, a minor issue.

*Personally, I am extremely fortunate to hold the job I have. Every day I get up and discuss fights. If you told me I would be doing that back in 2005, I would not have believed you. MMA was not going to become a major sport back in those days. It was a niche sport that was only accessible by internet geeks and was on the brink of collapse. But 17 years later, it’s a global juggernaut. Although there are still many issues (fighter pay and health care), the sport is still a global juggernaut. Here’s to another 17 years.

Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. You can send them to me, and I will answer those I love the most. Let’s have fun.