In a perfect world, the Stocktonian bad boy, returning from a yearlong suspension after testing positive for marijuana metabolites, would meet his promotional obligations with at least half the vigor with which he trains and fights. But White knew that wasn’t even a remote possibility.
“Nick Diaz shows up for fights… he fights his ass off. He’s not a big fan of pre-fight promotion, but you have to do it,” White said in early January, knowing full well that the best he could hope for is dragging Diaz kicking and screaming to at least some of his promotional obligations along the way.
The subject of Diaz came up, off handedly, again on Saturday night in London when White met with reporters following UFC on Fuel TV 7 and was asked about fighters that would make interesting video blogs, in the vein of the ones the outspoken UFC president has a huge audience for on YouTube.
Of course, everyone immediately thought Diaz would make interesting vlogs.
“Nick Diaz would be an interesting Countdown show, too,” White shot back sarcastically, “if we could get him to show up for those.
“Imagine how good his Countdown show would be. You think his video blog would be great? How about if he had a professionally shot, by professionals, the best in the business, the best at cutting and producing features on athletes. Imagine how (expletive) good that would be.”
The Countdown shows are a UFC promotional staple used to drive interest in upcoming fights.
Many critics of the UFC using its Primetime series to promote the upcoming UFC 157 headliner between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche commented that Primetime should have been reserved for St-Pierre and Diaz.
Primetime is a much more intensive, three-week, behind-the-scenes documentary of the UFC’s marquee fighters to promote some of its biggest bouts.
In a perfect world, Primetime would be a perfect fit for a bout the caliber of St-Pierre vs. Diaz, but the UFC hasn’t event been able to keep Diaz on track for Countdown, which doesn’t require as much of a time commitment as does Primetime, where cameras follow the fighters around 24/7 for three weeks.
“First we gotta get him to show up for the (expletive) interviews and then we can do it. How many has he missed, four? Three. He's missed three,” White revealed.
“So we've got a crew rolling around Stockton not doing a (expletive) thing. It costs us a lot of money and we can't properly sell the fight or Nick Diaz.”
White was able to at least get Diaz to the kick-off press conference in Montreal, which drums up initial interest and jump starts ticket sales.
But he knew that it wouldn’t be smooth sailing. It never is when Diaz is involved.
Diaz blew his first shot at St-Pierre in late 2011 when he no-showed a press conference, sending White into a white-hot rage that resulted in him pulling Diaz out of the fight.
White’s not concerned that Diaz will do the same for the fight. Fighting, not promoting, is his passion. As White said back in January, Diaz “fights his ass off.”
When the Diaz camp learned of White's assertion that the fighter had missed three Countdown interviews, they insisted that Diaz did not blow off the interviews, he simply didn't know about them.
“Dana is mistaken. There is no ‘crew rolling around Stockton' and Nick did not ‘miss' three interviews,” Jonathan Tweedale, a lawyer with the Nick Diaz camp, told MMAWeekly.com on Sunday.
“In fact, several earlier dates were arranged without Nick's knowledge and with no notice to Nick. When Nick learned what had happened, I assisted him in arranging a date and time directly (Thursday, Feb. 14). Nick arrived early and was in good spirits at that Feb. 14 date – the one and only date he knew about in advance.
“Nick requires things to be done in an organized and orderly manner. That is the kind of professional he is.”
Diaz started the promotional game off on the right foot with the UFC 158 kickoff press conference, but it was destined to be a bit of bumpy ride at some point, although now, it seems, things are back on track and we're headed for a Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz showdown at UFC 158… and even a Countdown show along the way.