Something unexpected occurred at last month’s UFC 158 press conference in Montreal, Canada.
Nick Diaz not only showed up, but he showed up on time with a positive attitude.
As most MMA fans know, Diaz was a no-show for the UFC 137 press conference. This resulted in Diaz losing his title shot against Georges St. Pierre on the card’s main event. From there, things went from bad to worse for him. He quickly followed up that blunder by testing positive for marijuana. This resulted in Diaz being suspended from MMA for one year, retroactive to Feb. 5, 2012.
After serving his suspension and spending almost a year outside of the UFC spotlight, no one knew what type of Diaz would return at the UFC 158 press conference.
UFC President Dana White was pleasantly surprised with the Diaz he saw. A few days after his encounter with him, White commented to a group of reporters about the new, more thoughtful Diaz. When asked if he was impressed by Diaz’ behavior at the UFC 158 press conference, White said something that showed the changes in him.
“Yeah, and with the fans, he hung out and took pictures and signed autographs for the fans…There is no doubt Nick Diaz is uncomfortable in that situation. He doesn’t like it, but he stepped up and was a pro, and did what he had to do,” he said.
That is high praise from White, who publicly stated he would never trust Diaz again after his failed drug test.
St. Pierre fans might also be warming toward Diaz. During the UFC 158 press conference, he even went so far as to retract a disrespectful statement he previously made about St. Pierre. When addressing his comment he made about being unimpressed with St. Pierre’s performance against Carlos Condit, Diaz humbly stated: “I didn’t mean to criticize. I thought it was a great fight and I was impressed with the show.”
Diaz seems to have figured things out. He appears to have matured and is doing what it takes to expand his fan base. While his new attitude may not help him in the cage against St. Pierre, it may help him extend his career in MMA’s top promotion.