Outrage over Nick Diaz’s five-year suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission for testing positive to marijuana has spread far beyond the confines of the mixed martial arts community.
Celebrities have chimed in. The hashtag #FreeNickDiaz circulated throughout social media. A White House petition was created that exceeded the amount of signatures needed by a considerable margin.
Although celebrities and petitions garner attention, the opinion of the fighters has been almost uniform. Heavyweight contender Ben Rothwell became the latest voice of dissent about the length of Diaz’s suspension.
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“I’ll sum it and just say that it’s absurd. That’s what happened. We all like watching him fight and five years is ridiculous. I hope that through the fans’ help that we’re going to help reduce that or make some changes to it,” said Rothwell during the UFC Fight Night Dublin Q&A.
“There’s some people that have done a lot worse and gotten a lot less time, so hopefully common sense prevails and this whole thing will get fixed,” he said.
The latest fighter that has, by most accounts, done worse and got a lighter sentence is stripped WSOF champion Rousimar Palhares. Like Diaz, he has been busted on multiple occasions, but his infractions have been for holding submission finishes well beyond the referee declaring the end of the fight, which could result in severe injury.
Whether or not Diaz’s sentence is reduced has yet to be determined.