Nate Diaz broke nearly each regulation of self-promotion at Friday’s UFC 263 press convention, however that’s precisely why the welterweight is likely one of the largest stars in fight sports activities and the final of a dying breed.
Diaz was hidden off to the aspect, shrouded in shadows and smoke from the joint he lit up midway by way of the presser, and barely answered questions, content material to let middleweights Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori, who conflict in Sunday’s (AEST) most important occasion, take centre stage with their forwards and backwards bickering.
And but Diaz, who returns from an 18-month hiatus to tackle Englishman Leon “Rocky” Edwards, stole the present in his personal surly, rough-hewed, completely genuine and undeniably charismatic method.
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“I’m pumped to fight a worthy opponent, that’s what I’m here for,” Diaz stated.
“It’s love everywhere I go, I love the support, I love the whole s— man, this is great. This is great these guys are doing their thing … real fights, that’s cool. Every fight is going to be the baddest motherf—er you’ve ever seen.”
The quotes aren’t dynamite, however when Diaz says them they work. It was his identify the group chanted earlier than and afterwards, he’s the one who has completed the rounds on ESPN and the other main media retailers this week. He is the star of this present, the most important identify on the town.
In a fight sports activities market that is more and more dominated by the likes of the Paul brothers, for whom life is an prolonged YouTube vlog with the strains between what’s actual and what’s not so blurred they could nicely not exist, Diaz is a welcome salve.
Diaz does not jockey for likes, subscribers and followers and has no real interest in promotion, which is exactly why he’s so good at it regardless of not having any of the normal points used to spice up a fighter’s profile.
The Stockton native isn’t eloquent and quick-witted, like his everlasting foe Conor McGregor, preferring blunt-force insults that all the time come again to how he, really, “doesn’t give a f—.”
His fights are by no means boring, however there’s lots of entertaining fighters and few of them attain Diaz’s stage of star energy.
He does not boast an undefeated report, having gone 20-12 over his profession and he doesn’t combat typically, with solely two bouts within the 5 years since his two thrilling clashes with McGregor, nor has he held a UFC title.
But what Diaz does have is authenticity and an absence of posturing that’s turn out to be so uncommon in a enterprise dominated by manufactured pictures. It’s the essential tenet of being cool — he acts like he doesn’t want your consideration, solely it’s not an act.
He acts the identical method now, with the identical perspective, as one of many sport’s largest stars as he did again when he first got here into the UFC in 2007, and he stored that identical vibe by way of preventing continuously in locations like Omaha, Nebraska or Oklahoma City, removed from the brilliant lights that now shine on him.
Nothing about Diaz has modified since he beat McGregor in March of 2016 — it simply confirmed the sporting world what they’d been lacking.
Diaz is a heavy outsider towards Edwards, who’s wrestling-based fashion and measurement have been anathema to Diaz previously. But that once more is a part of Diaz’s appeal.
Edwards is a nightmare for the elite welterweights — he’s the most effective on this planet, however his low profile makes the risk-reward of dealing with him a prospect many attempt to keep away from.
But not Diaz. The measurement of the problem is why he needed it.
In Diaz’s world, a fighter solely loses when he’s stopped and Edwards (18-2) has by no means been overwhelmed inside the gap, which is why Diaz needed him within the first place.
A fighter’s report shouldn’t be protected and mollycoddled — this recreation, as Diaz is so fond of claiming, must be kill or be killed.
Perhaps Diaz will be stomped into the bottom for 5 rounds by Edwards on Sunday, or perhaps he finds a approach to get the upset. Either method, he’ll be again as a result of he’s the true factor.