Reminder: Nick Diaz was ahead of his time in the fight against marijuana suspensions | Opinion
Six years ago today, Nick Diaz stood outside the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas shortly after being told he would not fight for five years.
In all honesty, I never expected him to speak to reporters - myself included - after the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced its draconian decision to suspend one of the sport's greatest stars for an absolutely absurd time simply because he was positive for marijuana was tested after his UFC 183 collision with Anderson Silva.
Oh, and let's not forget the $ 165,000 fine that came with it.
Why should he speak to the media? After all, he didn't even actually speak to the commission, instead choosing to properly enforce his fifth amendment 27 times while questioned by the notoriously tenacious Commissioner Pat Lundvall. Flanked by attorneys Nick Granath and Lucas Middlebrook, a clearly uncomfortable Diaz gave us what we've ever had the closest to a Dave Chappelle sketch during an NSAC session.
However, when we later climbed out of the conference room to get a comment that I expected would never come, we were told that Diaz would actually speak if we waited patiently outside. Even at that point, I imagined his team was trying to hold us up just long enough to let Diaz get in the car and race away.
A few minutes later, just as I was convinced we had been deceived, Diaz came up to him and gave his now famous monologue. The most frequently chosen single quote from the 12-minute self-talk is a classic.
"I know all the fighters and they're all on steroids," Diaz said before staring straight into the cameras. "Your motherfucks are on steroids."
It is important to remember what happened in MMA in September 2015. The UFC's anti-doping program was only a few months old, and questions still remained about how effective the US Anti-Doping Agency would be in its work. As it turns out, USADA's reach turned out to be quite powerful, and the number of sanctions the agency imposed in its early days gave Diaz’s claims some credibility.
But just a month before the hearing Diaz was suspended for five years for using marijuana, the same commission suspended former UFC middleweight champion Silva for a year after testing positive for several banned substances, including two, at the same event anabolic steroids. It hardly seemed like two fair decisions, and that fact had not escaped Diaz.
"This commission, everyone, they did everything they could to keep me from being at the top of where I should be," said Diaz. "These people up there are nothing but a bunch of crooks."
Diaz isn't always the most effective communicator, a fact he doesn't miss out on. But there were so many parts of that particular speech that I found particularly important outside of the most popular clip. The first was the emotion he pushed back when he talked about how his suspension would not only prevent him from competing but would also prevent him from becoming a licensed cornerman for his brother Nate Diaz.
"My brother has a fight ahead," said Diaz. “You're telling me I can't even corner my brother when he goes in - this is not a sport. This is war. This is warfare. This is a war game. He goes in to fight for his life. I can't even stand next to him.
“You have now not only taken away my money, but also the right not only to stand up for what I believe in, but also for my little brother. I can't even go and help my little brother. "
Shortly after battling back a quick tear, Diaz also offered an incredibly honest look at his upbringing, focusing on topics that only seem more relevant today to both school bullying and the anxiety that comes with it.
"They made me sweat in a little court hearing and I was supposed to be sweating bullets in a gym to train for a fight," said Diaz. “That feeling I just got from being in this room for too long is exactly why I became a fighter. That's why I left the classroom. That's exactly why I didn't make it to high school. I've had little gangbangers trying to start with me. I had little fights here and there. I couldn't attend.
"The other day someone said to me, 'Oh, you could have gone to college if you wanted." I said,' Really? 'I said,' I got pulled out of school. I was withdrawn from three or four high schools. You tried to put me on drugs. Then the teacher will say, 'Oh, yes, yes, I'm sorry he did this today. He didn't take his medication. ”Then kids next to me say, kids say,“ Oh, what's wrong? You didn't take your medication today? 'And I say,' F * ck. What? ’That wouldn't work."
"Dangerous" Nick Diaz feels "unstoppable" in UFC 266 rematch with Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler expects Nick Diaz to "try and hit my ass" in the UFC 266 rematch.
Public opinion was firmly behind Diaz in the months that followed. So steadfast was the rally that the White House was even forced to provide an official response after a petition to lift its suspension received more than 115,000 signatures.
Following an appeal, Diaz's order was later reduced to an 18-month suspension and the fine was reduced to $ 100,000. Unfortunately, that didn't matter to the fans, as Diaz stayed on the sidelines despite being eligible to participate.
Now, six years later, Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC) will finally rejoin the Octagon and next week will meet former rival and fellow MMA legend Robbie Lawler (28-15 MMA, 13-9 UFC ). UFC-266 event in Las Vegas.
During the time Diaz was gone, the state of Nevada legalized recreational marijuana use, and the NSAC decided to stop punishing athletes for detecting tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system. If similar rules had come into force in 2015, one wonders how Diaz, who was in his sporting heyday at 32 when he was banned, might have had a different career.
“I'm the biggest draw,” Diaz said in 2015. “I'm the best fighter. I've been fighting for a while. I've thrown more punches than anyone else in the sport. I've dodged more punches than anyone else in the sport, and that's the bottom line. That's really what it's about. "
We hope that Diaz can pick up where he left off and that the wisdom of his messages will continue to be heard, even if they are not always immediately apparent.
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American mixed martial artist
American mixed martial artist
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