Just 24 hours after Nick Diaz hit the skids, forcing UFC president Dana White to pull him from the UFC 137 main event with UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, the former Strikeforce welterweight champion is back on the fight card.
He’s still out of the title opportunity, but Diaz will remain on the card, basically swapping opponents with Carlos Condit. He’ll now face former lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn in the co-main event.
It’s been an odd turn of events over the past couple of days, with Diaz blowing off enough of the PR responsibilities of a main eventer to get him pulled from the fight. Condit, who was slated to fight Penn on the same fight card, quickly agreed to step into the title bout, leaving White to find an opponent for Penn.
He did so rather quickly.
“Dana just offered me a deal I can’t refuse. Pretty sure I’m still fighting on Oct. 29th,” Penn teased Thursday afternoon on Twitter. And a few short hours later, it was a done deal.
“This is crazy, but here we go again!” tweeted White. “You wanted it, so you got it. Penn vs Diaz (Oct 29th) in Vegas.”
So the revamped card will put Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit in top billing, while Diaz gets demoted down to a just-as-tough fight in the co-main event against Penn.
The question that immediately pops to mind is “Why take the risk of putting Diaz in with Penn when he already sabotaged his fight with St-Pierre?” Simple, the card isn’t banking on the co-main event; the card hinges on the tremendous drawing power of GSP. The main eventers are the primary figures that the UFC relies on to sell the UFC 137 fight card, and they know they can bank on GSP and Condit to do just that.
As a co-main eventer, Diaz gets to be right where he wants to be, in a big fight, but without as much demand on him to promote the card.
So now what happens if Diaz pulls off the win over Penn and puts himself in prime title shot position? Only time, and a not-so-easy victory over Penn, will tell.