Sports

Nick Diaz not looking for UFC titles as much as he is for big paydays

Nick Diaz doesn’t care what you or Dana White and the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization think of him.

He’ll show up when he wants – and only if he wants – to events that have nothing to do with actually stepping into the Octagon.

No-shows are common with Diaz. He’s paid to fight – not to talk – he reasons, and if you don’t like that, well, then so what?

Just keep paying him.

The Stockton resident is being paid a lot of money (the amount has not been announced) to fight former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva as the headliner for UFC 183 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

“It’s the biggest fight I’m going to be able to do,” Diaz said. “I’m not out there to win a belt. I’m not out there to be the baddest dude in the world, although (my career) started off that way. But you don’t make it this far if you have a whole lot of quit.”

Diaz, 31, is 26-9 with one no-contest. He dropped out of Tokay High School in Lodi early in his sophomore year and has had only one job – working for a collections agency – other than being a fighter.

He said he wasn’t a thug, shaking down people who owed money. He worked for a short time as a technician for the agency building office cubicles. But for the second half of his life, Diaz has been smacking people in the face, throwing them to the ground and trying to choke them out. It’s what he does best and it’s what he’s paid good money to do.

Diaz was a no-show in Las Vegas for Wednesday’s open workouts, something the UFC loves to schedule to help sell tickets and pay-per-view orders. The prevailing story was that Diaz missed his flight. Other reports had him already in Sin City and the no-show was just a marketing ploy.

But Diaz doesn’t come across as a guy who would agree to do something like that. Missing a plane or a connecting flight? That’s happened before, but not on purpose, and certainly not to please White, UFC’s president, who can appreciate Diaz’s bad-boy image from a promoter’s standpoint. And Diaz admits the rebellious image has been earned by his own doing.

“Usually I’m not the first one to step out of line,” Diaz said. “Nobody really did this before. They didn’t know what to say or how to act, so people were out there doing all sorts of things. A good 15 or 20 of my fights have really been confrontational and I’m sure really entertaining for the fans.”

You either love that about him or you want his opponent to pummel him. Diaz doesn’t really care. Or does he at this stage of his career?

“I’d rather not be portrayed as the evil villain, especially in this fight,” Diaz said. “You can say all this stuff you want about who is the bad guy. A lot of time it comes down to the demo. A lot of times you’re fighting a guy coming from San Francisco, or even Sacramento. This is Northern California. Or guys from L.A. But I’m fighting against another country, so you can’t paint me as the bad guy.”

Silva is a 39-year-old native of Brazil now living in Los Angeles. He’s 33-6 and considered by many to be MMA’s best fighter ever. But in his last appearance at UFC 168, he snapped the tibia and fibula of his left leg and lost via TKO to current champ Chris Weidman. After a 13-month recuperation period, he hopes beating Diaz will earn him a title shot against Weidman.

“First of all, I’m very happy to be back because I didn’t fight for one year and now I’m very excited because it’s my legacy, it’s my dream, and the new Anderson is back,” Silva said through an interpreter during a media conference call last week. “So more experience, more technique, I’m faster, stronger and happier. And UFC is giving me one more chance to show my job, and when I go inside the Octagon, I go to work. I go to show you, for my fans, my job, and my talent.”

Diaz lost by unanimous decision to Georges St. Pierre in a welterweight fight at UFC 158, his last outing in early 2013. Afterward, it became news that Diaz failed another test for marijuana metabolites. That earned him a year-long suspension, which turned into a 22-month, self-imposed semi-retirement. Last November, Diaz was charged for DUI in Lodi near where he and younger brother Nate, also a UFC veteran, operate an MMA training gym.

Since the St. Pierre loss, Nick Diaz turned down fights against Carlos Condit and Michael Bisping.

“I’m not out to prove that I’m the best out there. I’d probably be fighting at 170 still,” Diaz said. “It’s a lot of hard work to fight three guys at 170 to make what I made my last fight (the St. Pierre fight). I wasn’t going back to fighting contenders for a title shot again. Not that I wasn’t confident that I could win. I wasn’t motivated for what was on my contract, to be punching through those guys who are working their way to what I’ve been through three or four times.”

Diaz has been in the fight game too long, has fought some of the best fighters in the world to not get the biggest fights or earn some of the best money. It takes guts to take the abuse to the body that he does, he said. So pay him.

“You know, if you’re going to take a fight, you’re going to take punches, regardless. I’ve had a lot of fights. So to keep doing this, that takes some (guts),” Diaz said during last week’s media conference call. “But, I mean, everybody who’s fighting – it’s hard for them in their own ways. It’s a big show and now we’re fighting for big money. It’s a big deal. It’s going to be – it takes a lot for somebody. So that’s just how it is.”

Mark Billingsley covers MMA for The Bee. Reach him at editorwriter@att.net or @editorwriter001.

UFC 183

When: Saturday, early prelims 3:30 p.m., prelims 5 p.m. (FS1), main card 7 p.m. (pay-per-view)

Who: Nick Diaz vs. Anderson Silva

What: Five-round middleweight bout

Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas

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