Georges St-Pierre is the biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport, and a multiple-time Canadian athlete of the year. But with a title fight a day away, the pre-fight media conference, and the media scrum following it were dominated by Nick Diaz.
“He is a fascinating human being, very tough to figure out," said UFC president Dana White. "What’s important to most people he doesn’t care about. He’s a very unique individual. This is a guy who doesn’t give a s--- and doesn’t play by the rules, he isn’t the norm.”
“At one point it drove me crazy. But now, it’s not like I came into this fight not knowing what was going to happen.
"When you saw me at the press conference back in Vegas (at UFC 137 in 2011) I was pissed, and now? You have to assume. You have to prepare for things that are going to happen. I’d never seen somebody not show up for the press conference before, it’s never happened. So obviously the first time I was very pissed off. Now that it’s happened, I know what I do when people don’t show up for a press conference - you don’t show up for a press conference, you don’t fight.”
White did add that missing the open workout was insufficient reason to pull Diaz from Saturday's title fight.
“I don’t want to diminish the open workouts," said White. "But you pick and chose your battles. I would prefer him to miss the open workouts than the press conference. Everybody wants to focus on the open workouts, but I think he’s done a pretty good job leading up to this fight... considering he’s Nick Diaz.”
However, a second positive test for marijuana would apparently be enough to end Diaz's current run in the UFC.
"I would say we would probably have to," said White when asked, adding "wouldn’t you agree?”
Diaz himself did not seem overly concerned about the test.
"I think I tested, like, for metabolites or a nanogram or something," said Diaz of his failed test at UFC 143. "So I just did a little more than I did last time. I'm sorry if I don't pass the test. But I think it should work out - I've passed plenty of them before, unless they just weren't testing me? I wonder how much they test people around here?"
White made it clear that he hold no animosity towards Diaz.
“I don’t think Nick Diaz is a bad guy," said White. "Nick Diaz has never been in trouble in his life. He has no police record, he has none of that stuff. He is a martial artist, he is everything he says he is. He’s just got this... let’s call it unique personality. I’ve never come across anybody like him. I think he has a distorted view of how people look at him. It’s crazy s--- like today that make people think he’s the villain.”
White expressed no ambiguity about Diaz' trainer and manager Cesar Gracie.
“I think Cesar Gracie is a huge part of the problem to be honest with you,” said White. “Cesar comes out, first of all the tweet that he tweeted*, second of all comes out and says well the guy who is producing it lives up here in Northern California so how much could this really be costing them? I mean this f---ing guy has no clue about production. And to come out and say something that asinine is unbelievable. Yeah when we send a crew up to shoot these things, what do you think, we’re sending up, like a guy with a f---ing camcorder? We’re sending the guy who shoots those features has been working in the sports world for 30 years. And the crew he’s got around him is good too.”
White declined to say whether he thought Gracie was a suitable manager for Diaz.
“I don’t make those decisions," said White. "That’s up to them. Obviously as far as a trainer goes, Cesar Gracie must be a damn good trainer cause look at the camp he’s created, you know. But Cesar Gracie likes to play bulls--- games that drive me crazy. But as far as a trainer, he’s their trainer, that’s their guy and obviously he’s a good one or they wouldn’t be where they are today.”
White was asked if he thought Cesar was acting, presumably to create opportunities for his fighter.
“Do I think it’s an act? No. I think Cesar’s a dick,” said White. “That’s what I think. I think Cesar does some stuff that’s just bulls---, you know what I mean? I don’t think it’s an act or a shtick or anything else.”
Cesar however appears to have had experiences with Diaz that White might empathize with.
"It used to drive me absolutely crazy," says Cesar. "Like, I couldn't sleep at night."
"I finally learned that I really don't have that much control over it. With Nick, I don't think he's trying to disrespect anybody or be unprofessional. I think he's just uncomfortable with media and with people trying to delve into his personal life or make him open up... He hasn't learned how to relate that way."
"If Nick hadn't been there, things could have been a lot different for Nate. There weren't a lot of opportunities for them to go to school, to college. There were financial issues and family issues. Fighting was really the best thing that could have happened for both of them."
In an interview with BloodyElbow's Stephie Daniels, Gracie defended himself against the remarks.
"It's kind of childish really," said Gracie. "And it came out of left field. I think it started when I had mentioned the thing about possibly upgrading Nick's plane ticket from coach to business class. I had tweeted that because I thought these fighters that do the main event fights, and make the promotions millions of dollars, they need to be treated a little bit better. I thought it was not a big deal on my part to point that out. It started with that.
"I think later, it was something he said about Nick and Nate being late to their interviews, costing the company over $50,000. I questioned that a little bit, and talked about it in an interview. They got their stuff done. They were a little late with it, but costing $50k seemed a little ridiculous.
"It just kind of set Dana on a rant about those two things. This is a free country, and people can have their own opinions. If he wants to try to act like a baby about it, that's his prerogative. I've always been cool with Dana, so this kind of came out of left field for me.
"To address the issue about me being part of the problem, the thing he has to understand, and I think, for the most part, he does understand, that the Diaz' are gonna do what they're gonna do. I can't make them do something different. I will tell them what they need to do, I'll say what Dana wants them to do, but as far as making grown men do something that they don't want to do, it's very difficult, and there's nothing I can actually do about that. I think Dana knows that, so I don't really understand why he's trying to put a spin on it, saying I'm part of the problem, as if I'm the one telling them not to do something, which is absolutely ridiculous, and the farthest thing from the truth."
*When Cesar no showed he open workout, Cesar tweeted "we asked @danawhite if we could reschedule open workout. @nickdiaz209 wants to be at his best for this fight." The tweet has since been removed, and Gracie tretweeted Diaz' explanation "Would of been happy to show for the fans but UFC got me here at 12 last night Gorge lives here!"
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