When Nick Diaz announced his retirement from MMA this past March following a loss to UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre, it didn’t seem like anyone took him all that seriously. Sure, there were the inevitable “Diaz Retires!” headlines all over the internet for a few days, but for the most part, people chalked it up as another instance of Diaz being Diaz. He’d pulled a similar stunt after his loss to Carlos Condit barely a year earlier and was back inside the Octagon in no time. The retirement was considered an outburst after a disappointing fight, not anything to be taken seriously.

Fast-forward seven months and not much has changed. Diaz remains retired, but his name pops up in a rumored fight on what seems like a bi-weekly basis. His own teammate, Gilbert Melendez, went on record this week and said that, for the right offer, Diaz would likely come back to fight. In an interview with Fighter’s Only, Diaz himself admitted that retirement doesn’t exactly mean he’s done for good .

“It’s kind of hard to retire from MMA, there’s always something to do,” he said. “I am always going to be around it, like my brother is in training camp right now because he has a fight coming up so I am training with him. I don’t mind taking fights if it’s a big fight that people are going to make a big deal out of. If not, then it’s not really worth it to me. I’m not trying to do too much right now. I don’t know if I like the way the sport is turning into something different from when I got started. And I think it’s a good time for me to take it slow as well.”

That doesn’t sound like someone itching to get back into the Octagon. However, it opens the door just enough to get everyone to start creating dream fights for Diaz again. Although UFC President Dana White has gone on record several times and confirmed that Diaz wants to remain retired, he hasn’t hesitated to throw a few offers at the UFC veteran regardless of the fact. White was talking about the possibility of booking a fight between Diaz and Lyoto Machida as recently as a month ago, and when Michael Bisping let it be known that he was open to fighting Diaz at middleweight upon his return, White was quick to give that fight his blessing as well.

Inside the cage, Bisping and Diaz seems like a match-up made in heaven. “The Count” has never been shy about getting into a kickboxing match, but he’s at his best when he’s controlling the tempo of the fight and picking his opponents apart from the outside. It’s a fun contrast of styles compared to Diaz, who is about as aggressive as it gets when it comes to strikers. Diaz loves to push forward and use his unorthodox angles and punching combinations to pitter-patter his opponents into oblivion. As well as these two match up against each other, it’s almost a miracle that we made it this long before a proposed fight was brought up.

As fun as a fight between these two in the cage sounds, the war of words between Bisping and Diaz is the fight fans should be salivating over. Bisping is one of the best trash-talkers in the entire sport, and like most guys who use verbal warfare to their advantage, he only pushes harder when he feels like he’s getting under the skin of his opponent. That seems like a mere formality once the notoriously easy to rile up Diaz starts hearing the insults pile up, and a provoked Diaz is always good for a sound bite or two of his own when the cameras come on. Adding to the fun is the Diaz tradition of trying to find a way to genuinely dislike his opponent heading into each bout, motivation that should be easy to come by against the perennially villainous Bisping.

As anyone can see, this fight is an easy sell. It’s stylistically a great fight, and it gives two of the UFC’s most popular fighters a chance to get closer to earning a shot at the middleweight title. Throw in the amount of hype the fight should receive during promotion and it’s a no-brainer. It makes sense for the UFC, it makes sense for Bisping and it even makes sense for Diaz—if he actually wanted to come back.

In the same interview where Diaz confirmed he could potentially return under the right circumstances, he basically ignored a potential match-up with Bisping by saying, “I’m not looking at anyone specific.” That’s not exactly promising. A few days later at a press conference before UFC 166, Dana White said that although he “loves the fight,” Diaz doesn’t want to get back into the cage yet. There goes that idea.

Situations like the one with Diaz are frustrating for fans. Everyone realizes that Diaz is an enigma and doesn’t act in the way that most fighters (or people for that matter) do, but he’s still an immensely talented individual. Both in and out of the cage, Diaz is a solid addition to the UFC roster, and there are at least half a dozen huge fights out there for the Stockton native. He’s one of the most entertaining fighters in the world, yet, for reasons that most people can’t understand, he’s refusing to fight.

The fans and the media may choose to ignore him and his own teammates may choose not to believe him, but Diaz’s decision to decline a bout with Bisping is a clear indicator that he’s not going to fight anytime in the near future. Diaz can talk about waiting for the right fight all that he wants, but if we’re telling the truth, offers as good as this one with Bisping probably aren’t going to come that often.

Diaz may think he’s deserving of a title fight or a potential No. 1 contender’s bout, but the UFC isn’t going to see things that way. No one else in either the middleweight or the welterweight division represents a big enough star to drag the elder Diaz brother out of retirement. If Bisping or Machida isn’t enough to convince Diaz to fight, what good is offering Vitor Belfort or a Carlos Condit rematch going to be? Outside of a potential fight with Anderson Silva, should Silva lose this December, there isn’t a single fighter that could provide Diaz with the amount of hype that a bout with Bisping offers.

The longer Diaz decides to remain on the sidelines, the more unlikely it becomes that the Stockton native will become a true contender for a UFC title again. And while, at 30 years old, he’s still relatively young, Diaz has a decade’s worth of mixed martial arts punishment attached to his body. With the style he’s had over the course of his career, it may be closer to two decades’ worth of punishment. Diaz can’t afford to sit on the sidelines any longer, and now he’s going to let what appears to be more of a prolonged hiatus than a true retirement last for far longer than most fans thought possible. Whether he realizes it or not, Diaz’s refusal to take fights at this stage of his career is effectively going to end it.

If Diaz was to take a fight against a guy like Bisping or Machida, he might be able to string a few wins together and get back into title contention. Instead, he has decided to wait for a bigger fight that isn’t going to come. The retirement that no one took seriously may have actually been the beginning of the end for Nick Diaz.

Photo: Nick Diaz (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  • Nick.R.Diaz,Loved by few hated by most,missed by all,wee don’t know what’s going on? Just ponder if or when he steps back in the cage? This dude is the most popular Mexican in the sport of MMA. He did everything most people dream of but never accomplish. Who had any real good thing’s to say about him,not many! But to fight anybody in the cage like he’s done,is amazing! No doubt that his name is worldwide known and his loyal fans’ can’t get enough! Where have you seen someone like him? One of a kind in his own right. He fights the way fights should be,it’s no wonder people follow the style is very exciting! True warrior without him ufc isn’t the same. Too bad he was robbed against that fake pretender!”Condit” what a mockery! It’s so evident what took place the pattern in guida’s fight against Maynard it’s no coincidence! The Greg jacko camp plan”run” make sure to run every round! Coward mode. Nick Diaz never ran from no one,that’s why he’s one of the best the world has seen.