Unfortunately professional MMA athletes have made the news headlines once again for all the wrong reasons and this time it’s thanks to Nick Diaz.
Nick was arrested at 2:20 a.m. in California on Saturday September 6, and for the second time within the past 12 months, charged with suspicion of DUI. In addition, he was charged with obstructing a police officer, trying to destroy evidence and also driving with a suspended license. According to reports Diaz tried repeatedly to make himself vomit on a number of occasions ahead of providing a breath sample in a desperate bid to avoid prosecution. Diaz was subsequently released later that morning and will appear in court in the coming weeks.
The UFC issued the following statement: “We are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering the facts. We understand that there is a legal process that will now take place and that Nick Diaz will have the opportunity to address the situation in the near future.”
A fairly generic public response from the UFC but I would expect there was some very colorful language thrown around within UFC headquarters, particularly from Dana. Nick is scheduled to fight Anderson Silva, the greatest MMA fighter of his generation, in his long anticipated comeback. The Diaz v Silva fight is one of the most important events the UFC will promote in 2015 and both the UFC and the fighters stand to profit hugely as a result. Yet, unbelievably, Diaz thought it ok to jeopardize all of that by being stupid enough to risk life and limb by getting behind the wheel under the influence.
I don’t know the underlying reasons behind Nick’s behavior, or why he portrays the bad boy image with the proverbial chip on his shoulder but it’s not good for the sport. Nick has twice been arrested for being DUI and he is a known user of marijuana; having tested positive for the substance in the past and served a year long suspension as a result. Nick needs to remember that he has chosen a path that affords him a career in the public eye, a career that has led him to a world championship belt with Strikeforce, and also a slot on the roster of MMA’s biggest promotion; the UFC.
Young fighters and fans alike will look up to Nick and he needs to be mindful of that at all times both inside and outside of the Octagon. He needs to set a much better example of how a professional MMA athlete should conduct themselves.
Nick once again risked both his own safety and the safety of others when he got behind that wheel. That is unacceptable and it remains to be seen how Dana handles this latest Diaz controversy but there is probably too much revenue at stake for the Silva fight to be cancelled at this late stage. However, should Diaz lose the fight, which I fully expect him to, then it may well be his last paycheck from the UFC.
MMA fans, from armchair level, right up to the UFC’s supremo Dana White have spent years preaching to the uninformed that MMA is not a no holds barred fight contested by bare knuckle brawlers but in fact a legitimate, sanctioned sport contested by highly trained professional athletes. Professional athletes that display the courtesy, integrity, discipline and respect that we come to expect from years of martial arts training. The sport does not need guys like Nick, or any others, undoing all that hard work.