That has long been the plea of UFC president Dana White in trying to get Nick Diaz back into the Octagon. That’s all the fighter from the 209 needed to do, play the game “this much.”
But upon returning to the UFC, initially to challenge welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, Diaz missed booked flights and important promotional obligations, causing the UFC brass to demote him.
After an outstanding performance against B.J. Penn at UFC 137, however, he was given a second chance. He put in another solid effort, this time in losing a controversial decision to Carlos Condit at UFC 143.
Sure Diaz was upset with the decision, threatening retirement, but then playing the game came back to bite him once again. Diaz failed his post-fight drug test, coming up hot for marijuana metabolites, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“We invested a lot of money in him. He came off looking incredible after that series,” White said in a Fuel TV interview. “People who didn’t like him liked him. It’s very frustrating.”
But then “frustrating” is a word that Nick Diaz tends to wear as tightly as his triathlon speed suit.
“Going into this fight, I had a talk with Nick. Nick, play the game this much. And playing the game that much means don’t smoke marijuana around any of your fights, don’t do anything illegal, show up to some press conferences,” said White. “I’ve been very lenient with Nick Diaz.”
It’s never been a secret that Diaz uses marijuana. He has a medicinal marijuana card in California, allowing him to legally use the substance. He is not, however, exempt from the restrictions athletic commissions impose upon marijuana use by fighters.
“The Nevada State Athletic Commission does not allow you to smoke marijuana. You cannot have traces of marijuana in your system,” White explained. “It’s pretty simple. There’s a list of drugs that you can and can’t do. Marijuana is one of the can’t dos.”
The positive drug test result will likely keep Diaz on the sidelines for quite some time. He’s already served a six-month suspension and had his victory over Takanori Gomi taken away in Nevada for testing positive at Pride 33 in 2007. A second offense in the state isn’t likely to earn him much leniency from the commissioners.
After dealing with the punishment he receives from the NSAC, the question then becomes, “Was Diaz serious about retiring?” Is he frustrated enough with what he deemed a bad decision by the judges and dealing with athletic commissions and all the necessary evils that accompany stardom in the fight game that he will just hang up his gloves and walk away?
“I doubt he’d retire. Nobody has called me and said he wants to retire,” said White, although he has no special insight into what is going through Diaz’s mind at this point.
“This is what he does,” he explained. “He’s a fighter. Whether he likes it or doesn’t like it, the whole love and hate thing, Nick Diaz was born to fight.”