Remember all the joy and warm fuzzy feelings that swept over you yesterday after news broke that Alistair Overeem would be facing Brock Lesnar at UFC 141?
Well, prepare for the collective kick to the crotch as widespread disappointment swept the MMA community when UFC President Dana White announced this afternoon that former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz will not be fighting reigning UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137 next month. It seems White was left with little choice as Diaz has essentially gone AWOL over the last couple of days.
Trouble began to brew on Tuesday as Diaz inexplicably pulled a no-show at a scheduled press conference in Toronto to hype UFC 137. White, who was more than a little upset, was assured by Diaz’s manager Cesar Gracie that his charge would definitely be in attendance this afternoon in Las Vegas for the scheduled press conference. Of course, Diaz again inexplicably pulled a no-show. Left with little alternative, White immediately announced Diaz’s replacement as Carlos Condit who will fill in on short notice to take on GSP at UFC 137. To those of us who have been fans of Nick Diaz for a while such erratic and irrational behavior is nothing new. In fact, it was head-scratching moves like this that had kept the UFC at bay with Diaz for so long.
"I'd had my reservations about Nick Diaz for a long time," White confirmed at this afternoon’s presser. "You've heard me use the term 'play the game.' All I asked him for was this much. When he signed, I said, 'Let me tell you what kid, add up all the purses of you career, this will be biggest fight of your life.' You have the opportunity to fight GSP and win the welterweight title.”
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The stoic and cordial St-Pierre seemed equally confused about Diaz’s actions.
"I just don't understand why someone doesn't show up to an opportunity like this," said St-Pierre. "I just can't believe it. It's amazing; it's crazy."
White admitted that losing Diaz is a huge blow to this promotion in terms of hype and money. Having spent around $15,000 dollars just on airline tickets for the various media gatherings that were to have taken place. For Diaz, this is just another example of perplexing behavior that has taken the luster off of some of his noteworthy career accomplishments. White would go on to say that Diaz had been staying with Gracie but had snuck out the “back door” and was not responding to his manager, the UFC, or his brother Nate.
While Carlos Condit is certainly a deserving challenger, it would be a lie to say that a ton of the buzz surrounding UFC 137 has dissipated with the loss of Diaz. White would tell the press that Condit was so appreciative of the title opportunity that he broke down and cried before immediately hopping on a plane to Vegas. While Condit and St-Pierre are teammates at Greg Jackson’s gym both fighters assured everyone that they have no issues fighting each other.
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Tickets for UFC 137 went on sale today and White said that anyone who purchased tickets in anticipation of a St-Pierre-Diaz bout would be entitled to a refund, though he didn’t think many would take him up on the offer.
Uncharacteristically, it was St-Pierre who had the best line of the afternoon regarding the afternoon’s shocking news.
"Maybe [Diaz] is here and he is going to come out and say, 'This is a prank,'" St-Pierre mused. "Are you trying to prank me?"