At least that’s how it was in the mind of Nick Diaz when he stepped away from fighting, while the rest of us said he was retired. In his mind, he was on sabbatical.
“I didn’t ever really mean to make that statement that I’m retired. What I meant by that whole thing is you never really retire from martial arts, that just doesn’t happen,” said Diaz during a Tuesday conference call with the media.
“What I meant to say is I’m retired from climbing the ropes. I’m definitely not going to take easy fights. I’m not doing anybody any favors and I’m definitely not doing myself any favors taking a fight I’m not happy with. That’s where I stood with my whole retirement game plan,” he continued.
“I just pretty much needed some time off and you don’t really get time off in the UFC without retiring or getting hurt, and I guess I don’t break easy like some of these guys.”
Diaz didn’t want to be just another fighter, taking whatever fight fell his way as dictated by the rankings. He wanted big fights. Big in pay and big in stature.
Diaz recently signed a contract extension with the UFC that puts him back to work in the type of fight he’s wanted; not a title fight, but a super fight. Tuesday’s call was part of his call back to work to start the promotional ball rolling for his comeback fight with Anderson Silva on Jan. 31, 2015, at UFC 183.
Diaz says the new contract is what he wanted; he has no complaints. But don’t think he’s all smiles when it comes to climbing back in the cage. It’s not fun time for him.
The Octagon isn’t Diaz’s idea of a playground.
“Would you enjoy fighting Anderson Silva?” he responded when asked if it was fun for him to finally return to the cage and get the types of fights that he’s wanted all along.
“I don’t recommend anybody to be a fighter. Fighting is not something I enjoy doing. It’s something I feel I have to do. That’s just the way it is.”
In his mind, Diaz is a martial artist, not a fighter. Fighting is his job description, not a definition of his character. He’s a martial artist in the gym, on his time. When he steps in the cage, when the clock starts ticking, that’s when he’s a fighter.
“I don’t enjoy fighting. I don’t use that word in this sport. I use that word like maybe I’m starving and food is showing up and I’m excited now. Or I’m excited to have a couple of days off,” he explained. “I don’t know, people are confused with that term when it comes to fighting. That’s how I feel about that.”
So why now? Why did Diaz return if it’s not fun for him? It’s not exciting for him?
“I can survive without fighting. The thing is, I want to do the best I can like everybody else,” he put it simply.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody. I’m a non-violent person. I don’t especially enjoy violence. I hate watching people get hurt over and over again; it’s not something I enjoy to do,” he said.
“I do what I do because I’ve got to do it.”