Nick Diaz has been one of the craziest athletes in MMA over the past decade, but asking for a fight with Anderson Silva suddenly made him look like the smartest and most reasonable man in the sport.
Besides keeping his name in the national headlines while serving a suspension for his testing positive for marijuana metabolites in a post-fight urinalysis in Feb., this move should also put him in the good graces of fight fans and UFC brass because he's willing to jump to a different weight class just to put on an exciting fight "that matters."
Gracie Knows Best
"This week we had a great talk and he made it clear to me that he is ready to get back in the cage," Diaz's coach, Cesar Gracie, said in a Yahoo! Sports report. "Nick Diaz will return."
Most fight fans knew Diaz's retirement wouldn't last long. The guy is a beast and a gym rat. Nick Diaz needs to fight, and the MMA community sorely misses him. It's as simple as that.
"As far as future opponents, Nick has stated that he would like to take fights 'that matter'," Gracie added. "Since GSP will be fighting Condit, he has to look elsewhere. He will respectfully ask for a fight with Anderson Silva, a fighter he respects and would like to challenge. Silva's camp has been speaking of a fight with GSP, possibly even at a catchweight. Nick will take that fight in a minute but has told me that should Silva decide not to drop at all, he will move up to 185lbs to face the Champ."
Gracie knows better than anyone what Diaz is thinking about, so these comments can't be discounted as just speculation.
Let's be honest here: The UFC is a business and they want to put on the fights that fans want to see.
After the long-awaited rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, the only fights that would live up to that would be a tilt between Silva and either Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones or Nick Diaz.
Silva already said that he won't fight Jones, and St-Pierre would need at least a year to pack on the muscle needed to properly bulk up to 185 pounds. Silva doesn't have that much time on his side, as he's closing in on his 38th birthday, so the only match left that makes sense is against Nick Diaz.
Even if one of the top-level middleweights is ready to step in against Silva, fight fans wouldn't be as amped up as they would for a bout between the Brazilian legend and Diaz, St-Pierre or Jones.
Chris Weidman still needs a few more bouts under his belt before he's going to get a crack at the title, and Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch don't have exciting enough styles to excite most MMA fans. Silva's camp also recently called the rest of the middleweight competitors a bunch of "amateur kids," not exactly a glowing endorsement to grant one of them a title shot.
I can definitely see the tilt between Silva and Diaz going down in Feb. of 2013, as Super Bowl weekend historically features the top fight cards of the year.
If Silva doesn't fight until then, his six-year-long win streak will still be in tact, and Diaz will be coming off a year-long hiatus. Diaz is a winner of 11 of his last 12, and he has the trash-talking skills that could sell the fight just as easily as "Silva-Sonnen II." This is a fight that has to happen.
Should Nick Diaz fight Anderson Silva? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.